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Nine Plays Your High School and College Students Will Love To Perform

By On The Stage
theatre students comparing scripts

High school and college are hard, but theatre doesn’t have to be. As you’re planning your play selections for the academic year, here are nine excellent plays that high school and college-aged students will love reading, watching, and performing.

Our script partner, Stage Rights, sweetens the deal by offering these plays in an Education School Bundle with one price for up to six performances.

HALIBUT HIGH

Playwright: Jon Jory

Run Time: 75 min

Cast Size: 23F, 12M, 1F/M

Category: Play

Genre: Slice-of-Life - High School/College

Synopsis: Everyone has a story, most especially teenagers. Halibut High is a kaleidoscopic slice-of-life look down the hallway and behind the gym of an All-American high school. Lives intersect, personalities clash, and the hopes and dreams of students are given voice in this look at what lies beyond the stereotypes of the kids at Halibut High.

Other details: Each of Halibut High’s acts can stand separately and be played as one-acts.

Teacher’s Note: Students will love how the play speaks to their current experience. Due to the large cast size, this would be a great opportunity for a large Acting Class, and if split as two One-Act plays, these would be ideal selections for a Beginning Directing class final project. 

 

HIGHLIFE

Playwright: Jon Jory 

Run Time: 80 min

Cast Size: 27F, 9M

Category: Play

Genre: Slice-of-Life - High School/College

Synopsis: Told as a series of short plays, Highlife explores the tumultuousness of kids about to take the next step into adulthood. The first act is through the prism of that All-American ritual, the pajama party. The second act tackles break-ups, gossip, and what happens moments after the tasseled caps land on the ground.

Other details: Educators can alter the running order of the scenes — creating infinite possibilities!

Teacher’s Note: This play is a great conversation starter about the bridge between high school and what comes next and how students can begin to navigate adulthood. Due to the large cast size, this would be a great opportunity for a large Acting Class. The eleven scenes make this play an easy pick for a Directing Class if the teacher wants to assign scenes in the same genre. 

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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST

Playwright: Jon Jory (Adaptation)

Run Time: 30 min

Cast Size: 7F, 3M

Category: Play

Genre: Comedy - High School/College

Synopsis: When two friends, both with alter egos named "Ernest," attempt to woo women who claim to only love men named Ernest, what follows is a hilarious satire full of deception, byzantine plots, and confused identities. 

Other details: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, quite possibly the most popular English stage comedy of all time, has been given a fresh new one-act adaptation by Jon Jory for schools that expands opportunities for actresses. 

Teacher’s Note: The Importance of Being Earnest is a great opportunity for students to practice comedic timing and delivery. This shortened version would be a fun selection for an Advanced Acting scene study and a good challenge for a Directing Class final project.

 

THE LEGEND(S) OF SLEEPY HOLLOW

Playwright: Jonathan Josephson (Adaptation)

Run Time: 65 min

Cast Size: 3F, 3M (Flexible)

Category: Play

Genre: Comedy/Horror - High School/College

Synopsis: You know one version, the popular version, of Washington Irving’s tale of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow— but wouldn’t you like to know what really happened on that fateful night that Ichabod encountered the Horseman? This play reveals all from the point-of-view of the one character who was there and knows the whole truth: Ichabod Crane’s horse, Gunpowder.

Other details: Directors can cast between 6 - 17 actors, and there are suggestions for doubling roles. 

Teacher’s Note: This is the perfect play to start with students in the fall term to put them in that Halloween spirit. There is also a fun opportunity for a set designer to create the world of Sleepy Hollow.

 

THE SECRETS OF WILDEST NEVERLAND

Playwright: Jon Jory

Category: Anthology Play

Genre: Comedy - High School/College

Run Time: 1hr 30min, flexible

Cast size: 23F, 13M, 4 F/M

Other details: This very loose adaptation is flexible for a 30 or 40 minute One Act or a full-length play with a 10-15 minute intermission. In any case, the final play must be Adieu.

Synopsis: Find out what happens when mermaids, Smee, and some cranky crocodiles have their say. Here's a look at the world of Peter Pan and what goes on when no one is looking.

Teacher’s Note: Student actors will love the opportunity to go deeper with familiar characters with their analyses and objectives that are not in J.M. Barrie’s original play. There are also opportunities for multiple directors for this one piece as well as something for emerging dramaturgs to sink their teeth into. It’s also great for a Beginning Directing class. 

 

SHERLOCK HOLMES, SLEUTH MEETS FATHER BROWN, DETECTIVE

Playwright: Jon Jory (Adaptation)

Run Time: 35min

Cast Size: 4F, 2M, 4 F/M, 4 Ensemble

Category: Play

Genre: Mystery - High School/College

Synopsis: A prison escape in Chicago! A daring bank robbery under the streets of London! Having stumped the local authorities in both cities, these mysteries are left up to the greatest minds on either side of the Pond to solve. When the intuition of the world-famous detective Father Brown meets the deduction of super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes, these criminals don’t stand a chance!

Other details: Adapted from the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and G.K. Chesterton, this compact caper will delight students and audiences alike. Many roles are listed as gender-neutral.

Teacher’s Note: This one-act play leaves room for more open casting, and it is also a great way to introduce students to the source material and other great mystery plays. It’s also a fine selection for a Directing Class project or One Act Festival.

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SUPERHERO TOWN

Playwright: Jon Jory

Run Time: 75 min

Cast Size: 11F, 4M

Category: Play

Genre: Action/Comedy - High School/College

Synopsis: Superhero Town mashes up the mundane world of suburban life with the thrilling world of superheroes. In Act I, a young girl dreams of living a normal life as a landscape gardener, but the Scarlet Sisters have other plans. In Act II, we follow the matriarch of a superhero family as she juggles the demands of her family while trying to save the planet as only a mom can.

Other details: Each act of Superhero Town can stand separately and be played as a one-act.

Teacher’s Note: A fun play in a unique genre, Superhero Town is perfect for student directors to tackle in a One Act Festival or a Directing Class final project, with plenty of roles for actresses.

 

ALL MY DISTANCES ARE FAR

Playwright: Leda Siskind

Run Time: 1 hr 30 min, no intermission

Cast Size: 4F, 3M

Category: Play

Genre: Drama - High School

Synopsis: Over the course of a school year, six inner-city high school students are forced to speak with the new school counselor. Through a series of monologues, we meet a diverse group of students including: Ruby, a foster kid who struggles with sobriety as she ages out of the system; Wade, whose Asperger’s poses a unique problem for him when he develops his first crush; and overweight Marcy, an aspiring poet devastated by a cruel prank. Their struggles challenge the experience of the school counselor, who discusses her work in therapy sessions of her own. Beautifully drawn, funny, and heartbreakingly poignant, All My Distances Are Far turns the audience into a silent confidant as each character struggles to make it to the end of the school year.

Other details: The action takes place in a huge, urban 8th through 12th grade middle and high school in a large city, throughout the fall, winter, and spring quarters. The play is performed without intermission. The students address the audience as the unseen therapist and The Therapist addresses the audience as the unseen supervisor.

Teacher’s Note: The play’s themes of high school life, depression, therapy, abuse, addiction, bullying, and Autism can open the doors to multiple class discussions with students. This play lends itself well to monologue study in an Acting Class as well as a school assembly production.

 

FRIENDS LIKE THESE

Playwright: Gregory Crafts

Run Time: 1 hr 30 min

Cast Size: 2F, 3M

Category: Play

Genre: Drama - High School

Synopsis: In this honest and poignant look at adolescence, Garrett, an outsider, navigates the tumultuous halls of his school with his best friend Diz, a self-proclaimed freak. They escape the day-to-day tortures of high school in a game-world called Haven, where they slay monsters and save maidens. When Garrett catches the attention of Nicole, a popular cheerleader with an honest heart, it upsets the status quo. Jealousy and betrayal force Garrett to confront past mistakes and question who his real friends are. This gut-wrenching new play unswervingly explores the tragic consequences of bullying that have left us staggering as a nation time and time again.

Other details: This play takes place in more than half a dozen different locations with several quick changes. The production can be done with a set as simple as a table and three folding chairs arranged in different configurations to represent each place. A projector can be integrated into the production to accent each location and provide a richer backdrop. The story is set a year after the Columbine Massacre. 

Teacher’s Note: Due to the sensitive nature of this play and the action in it, this is a great play for both a fight choreographer and an intimacy director to instruct students how to play through these scenes safely. 

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Tags: school theatre

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