Composers and their stage works 


Alphabetical Order.

Play. Michael Frayn
M4 (30s-60s) F3 (20s, 30s, 50s). A library.

The library office of a provincial newspaper is a scene of utter confusion - the cluttered chaos of the room matching the lives of its staff. It is also a scene of warmth and light-heartedness. In comes Leslie, a new young assistant with a passion for organisation who transforms the office and the lives of its inhabitants into something orderly and neat - and also arid and colourless. An announcement that the paper is to close leads to a struggle between chaos and order.
ISBN 0 573 01600 3


Play. Peter Shaffer
M12 (30s-70) F3 (20s, 30s). Extras. Interior and exterior settings.

In old age, Salieri recalls his successful career as Court Composer, his hatred of Mozart, and how he contrived the brilliant young composer's demise. A musical genius, Mozart died neglected and impoverished while the mediocre Salieri lived in a blaze of fame and praise. Period 1823 Vienna and in recall, 1781-1791. First presented at the Royal National Theatre.
ISBN 0 573 11015 8


Comedy. Tom Griffin. 5 men, 4 women. Interior.

Following the opening night of the Timberly Troupers' musical about undertakers, Dorothy and her slightly daft husband, Charlie, host a gathering of actors and friends. The chic opening night party is in another part of town but into Dorothy's living room comes a guest list that includes Nathan (a recently divorced high school teacher who is also a very bad ventriloquist), Wayne (better at loving than acting), Jennifer (who has a sure shot at Hollywood stardom), Ernie (one of the Troupers' actors filled with ham and spite), Irene (his out-of-patience wife), Mona (who was in love with Wayne but has since moved on to someone else) and Paul (a well-known drama critic and friend of Dorothy's who has just broken his rule of never reviewing community theatre). When Paul has a heart attack he drops his not-yet-published review before being taken to the hospital. The actors read it and confront the harsh reality of a pan. Dorothy's sweetness and patience rise above Ernie's bitter tirade, and the others trade barbs and insults as they try to control their emotions. The party becomes the setting where the dreams, loves, failures and successes of this group are explored with bittersweet humour and the relationship between risk and need is touchingly depicted.
ISBN: 0-8222-0022-8

The Amazing Activity of Charley Contraire and the Ninety-eighth Street Gang

Comedy/Fantasy : Roy London. 5 men, 4 women. Unit Set.

The story is the odyssey of Charley Contrare, who leaves home while still a boy and spends a lifetime seeking to "find" himself; to know who and what he really is. While his mother waits at home, and then eagerly packs her bags hoping to join Charley in Hawaii, we meet Charley at ages 16, 30, 60 and 90. In this free-flowing fantasy world, filled with theatrically vivid episodes from Charley's various "pasts," each Charley challenges the reality of his alter egos - until, at last, the true Charley arrives, releasing his mother from her long vigil, and setting right the kaleidoscope of "amazing activities" which have comprised his multi-faceted life.
ISBN: 0-8222-0023-6


Drama. Romulus Linney. 5 men, 2 women. Unit Set

Freely adapted from Matthew Lewis' 18th century gothic novel, The Monk, Ambrosio, the play, deftly transposes our own contemporary concerns about sexuality, desire and abstinence on to the original novel's voluptuous setting and, atmosphere. As the monk Ambrosio confronts temptation, first in the form of a seductive young male novice, and then in a young woman who begs Ambrosio to be her confessor, a mysterious fisherman named Don Pedro looks on. Is he, as Ambrosio suspects, really the devil, offering up inducements for Ambrosio to renounce his vows? Is this vision of the devil simply a case of delirium brought on by Ambrosio's life of denial? Is either answer part of a plot by the Inquisition to shore up their own power? Ultimately, the crux of Ambrosio's dilemma lies in the realm of spirituality, where what distinguishes fantasy from reality has yet to be decided.
ISBN: 0-8222-1320-6

The America Play

Drama. Suzan-Lori Parks. 3 men, 2 women. Unit set

Once upon a time there was a theme park called the Great Hole of History. It was a popular spot for honeymooners who, in search of "post-nuptial excitement," would visit this hole and watch the daily historical parades. One of these visitors was a man who has now come to call himself The Foundling Father. He was a digger by trade - a grave digger - and he was struck by the size of the Hole and the pageantry of the place. He returns home with his wife, Lury, a woman who keeps secrets for the dead, and together they start a mourning business. Unfortunately, our hero can't get the Great Hole pageantry out of his head; the echoes of history speak to him and call him to greatness. At rise we meet this Foundling Father. He has left his wife and child and gone out west to dig a huge replica of the Great Hole of History. In the hole sits our hero. He is dressed like Abraham Lincoln, complete with beard, wart, frock coat and stove pipe hat. He tells us the story of his own life (in the third person) and tells us that he has become a very successful Abraham Lincoln impersonator! He's so successful that people actually pay a penny to re-enact Lincoln's assassination, using our impostor-hero and a phony gun. Eventually the Father dies and the second act sees his wife Lury and 35-year-old son, Brazil, a professional weeper, visit the hole to dig for his Father's remains. Listening to the past through her deaf-horn, Lucy hears echoes of gunshots and lurid stage-shows. When they dig up the Foundling Father's body (he's alive) they decide they have to lay him to rest for good. In the play's last image, his son is trying to climb a ladder our of the Hole of History while the Foundling Father sits starkly on his own coffin, refusing burial.
ISBN: 0-8222-1423-7

American Buffalo.

Drama. David Mamet
M3 (young, 40s). A junk shop.

In a Chicago junk shop three small-time crooks plot to rob a man of his coin collection which came to light when the collector found a valuable 'buffalo nickel' in the shop. The three plotters fancy themselves as businessmen pursuing the genuine concerns of free enterprise. In reality, they are Donny, the stupid junk shop owner; Bobby, a spaced-out young junkie Donny has befriended; and Teacher, a violent, paranoid braggart. But their plans come to naught and are futile, vulgar verbal exercises.

The American Clock

Arthur Miller : Drama 10M 5F Open stage

A brilliandy theatrical, kaleidoscopic view of America during the early years of the depression. At the centre of the action are the Roams, a wealthy family whose fortune has vanished in the stock market crash but whose story is amplified and illuminated by brief glimpses of other characters' lives. Moving deftly from scene to scene, some funny, others poignant, the play ultimately becomes a deeply moving evocation of a fascinating period of American history and of the indomitable spirit of its people. An immense success during the recent National "Theatre production.

"A spell-binding theatrical event" Sunday Times.
"After far too long an interlude, Miller is back in touch with his best subject, the failure of the American Dream, and back on top of his talent" New York Times

The American Dame

Play/out. Philip C. Lewis. 2 men, 3 women, but cameo parts can be assigned to as many as 20. No Set

The author describes a "play/out" as "an entertainment where actors announce a theme and then play it out." In this case the theme is the saga of American Womanhood set forth through material drawn from a wide range of sources. The general format is a series of contiguous skits and readings, done without scenery and employing only the "simplest of props and snatches of costumes."

In setting forth his study of American Womanhood (and how she got to be what and where she is) the author begins at the beginning - with Eve and the apple. From this earliest hint of what was to come he moves on, in historical sequence, through biblical and Elizabethan times and, drawing closer to home, to the lot of Indian squaws and Puritan and Colonial ladies. Supplementing his own sprightly imagination with vivid excerpts from journals, biographies, letters, plays, newspapers, sermons, and even trial extracts he constructs a well-defined and amusing picture of his ever changing yet always intriguing subject. As times (and mores) move on, the author sharpens focus on his subject with witty examinations of the first American working girl; the educated woman; the frontier wife; the suffragette; the bloomer girl and the clubwoman. The men may be reluctant to admit it, but "The American Dame" is on her way to becoming an equal partner with the male. In fact before the cycle is complete the admission is finally and grudgingly made that perhaps women are the superior sex after all.
ISBN: 0-8222-0028-7

An American Daughter

Drama. Wendy Wasserstein. 8 men, 6 women. Unit Set

Set in Washington, D.C., An American Daughter focuses on Dr. Lyssa Dent Hughes, a health care expert and forty-something daughter of a long-time Senator. When the President nominates Lyssa to a Cabinet post, an indiscretion from her past is discovered. The media turns it into a scandal which imperils her confirmation and divides her family and friends. Lyssa is forced to make a decision: continue to pursue the post and face an ugly Senate hearing; or decline the nomination, becoming a sacrificial lamb for the President. Partisan politics in the American nation's capital, however, are nothing compared to the personal politics in Lyssa's living room, where complicated relationships unravel with her father, husband, and her best girl-friend - not to mention the awkward encounters she has with an exuberant, neo-feminist author, and a relentless TV journalist.
ISBN: 0-8222-1633-7

American Dreams

Play Studs Terkel, adapted for the stage by Peter Frisch. Drawn from Terkel's best-selling book American Dreams: Lost and Found. :
4 men, 2 women. Unit set

Made up of eighteen monologues connected by brief concerted sections, and divided into six segments (fantasies, nightmares, hallucinations, sweet dreams, broken reveries and visions), the play uses the voices of real people to convey, with striking effectiveness, a sense of what America and its people are, both in truth and in fantasy. Ranging from the rich and famous (Ted Turner, Arnold Schwarzenegger) to the obscure (a farmer, a bellhop, a Hare Krishna disciple) to hard-bitten cynics and hopeful optimists, the diverse monologues weave an evocative tapestry out of the simple truths and cogent observations which emerge when people speak their minds with honesty and candor. And, taken together, the various segments and speeches blend into a moving theatrical experience which is revealing, often very funny, frequently moving and sometimes disturbing - but which always speaks from and to the heart of this great and singular nation in all its richness and diversity.
ISBN: 0-8222-0029-5

An American Millionaire

Comedy Murray Schisgal. 5 men, 2 women. Interior

The hero is the millionaire co-owner of a textile plant who seems to have all that one could wish for - but who finds himself thoroughly miserable. As things have gone from bad to worse his wife (whom he loves) has left him; he is overweight but can't stop eating; his partner has just about given up on him; and, to cap it all, someone is apparently trying to kill him. In an attempt to set matters straight his brilliant law student daughter enlists the aid of her professor (and lover of five years), whereupon the action becomes ever more pell-mell, and even funnier - leading on to a quite unexpected yet characteristically zany resolution.
ISBN: 0-8222-0031-7

American Notes

Play. Len Jenkin. A kaleidoscopic, surrealistic overview of contemporary America, set forth in the bizarre, highly theatrical style. 7 men, 3 women. Unit Set

The action of the play is made up of a series of concurrent actions, some set in a tacky motel, somewhere else, involving a group of disparate, but curiously related, people. There is the young night clerk, Pauline, who studies her high school English Lit notebook while growing increasingly fearful of the unseen and unwanted suitor who lies in wait in the motel parking lot; a raucous carnival barker touting his giant crocodile, Bonecrusher; a pair of seedy bar denizens who occasionally break into song; a dim-witted handyman, Chuckles, who performs pointless errands; a deranged scientist who believes that he is in contact with creatures from outer space; an abandoned woman who waits restlessly for a lover who will probably never return; and a mysterious drifter, Faber, who somehow becomes the catalyst which fuses all these divergent elements into a cohesive, and often wildly funny, whole. And, in so doing, makes the play both an encapsulation of the American myth and, at the same time, a telling commentary on what is right - and wrong - with this myth.
ISBN: 0-8222-0033-3

The American Plan

Play. Richard Greenberg. 2 men, 3 women. Unit set

This thoughtful and mysterious play dissects a portion of upper-class American society at midcentury and finds a troubled young girl's dream of love shattered by her mother's definition of happiness. "Greenberg has created some compelling characters ... The dialogue is lyrical, the characters absorbing ..." -NY Daily News. "How Greenberg achieves the end is nothing less than spellbinding. His characters shift and shimmer like reflections on the resort's lake." -Variety. THE STORY It is the Catskills, in the summer of 1960. By the shore of a lake, Lili Adler, the troubled twenty-year-old daughter of a wealthy German-Jewish refugee, meets Nick Lockridge, a golden young man who looks to her as if "nothing ever happened to him." Over the summer, Lili comes to view Nick as her savior and Nick's fondness for Lili grows; but to Eva, Lili's autocratic mother, Nick is an object of suspicion, and the romance that blossoms between him and Lili is an unfortunate condition that must be indulged before it can be obliterated. Eve. knows she will find out something about Nick which will unmask his unworthiness. To find it, she patiently manipulates Nicks revelations about his past to prove him unfit for Lili. By play's end, time, past injuries, and the imperatives of history will conspire to bear out Eva's dictum that happiness exists "but it's for other people."
ISBN: 0-8222-0034-1

American Primitive (or John and Abigail)

Play. The words of John and Abigail Adams put into sequence for the theatre with addenda in rhyme by William Gibson. 4 men, 4 women, 1 boy, 1 girl. Open Stage.

As the words drawn from their letters, diaries and books reveal, John and Abigail Adams were singular people: proud, loving, articulate, and filled with the dedication and spirit required to share in the forging of a nation. Through their words, with rhymed addenda spoken and acted by the company, the stuff of their lives - and the drama of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress and the Declaration of Independence - are made eloquently and vividly real on the stage. Blending history and humanity into a vital theatre piece, the play offers a lesson for our time, and all time, and a memorable experience to be shared and not soon forgotten.
ISBN: 0-8222-0035-X