If trying to find a play for a cast of 3 or 4 is difficult, it can be just as hard trying to find a play to cast an entire class or year group in. So many plays have a handful of substantial parts surrounded by a few satellite roles that offer little challenge. The plays listed here should help you give everyone a shot at developing a role with some challenge and substance to it.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens adapted by Gary Owen
This is the first play adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel from an award-winning playwright who remains close to the original text but significantly updates the humor and fleshes out in spoken dialogue many of the important character passages from the book. This adaptation is not the stuffy stereotype of Victorian England but is unconventionally humorous, gritty and not at all tame in confronting poverty, greed and issues of unfairness in society: themes that will strikingly resonate with modern audiences.
This adaptation and the large size of the cast make it the perfect edition for the thousands of school performances which are held across the country each year during the holiday season. Unique to this adaptation, playwright Gary Own fills in the missing details in Scrooge’s background to explain his miserliness: how he was sent to a workhouse as a boy, starved, beaten and nearly worked to death. The Constable character from the workhouse then haunts Scrooge and appears every time he chooses money over humanity.
This version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, adapted and abridged by director Carl Heap, preserves the core of Shakespeare’s plot, retains the original language, yet is presented very much with the target age group in mind
And Carl Heap’s inspiring introduction will help readers, teachers, and practitioners to imagine, produce, and stage their own version
‘…in the night, imagining some fear, How easy is a bush supposed a bear!’
With all the dark undercurrents of the traditional fairytale, Shakespeare weaves in farce, slapstick, romance and revelry into some of his most lyrical poetry to create what is perhaps his most joyous play
A Christmas musical show featuring an Advent Calendar with characters and objects appearing from the windows, taking the form of a journey towards the light at Bethlehem in an otherwise dark world
The play runs about 45 minutes and can be staged in almost any space using just simple props, or else a formal set with lavish costumes
Casting is also flexible and almost all parts can be play by either male or female
And the option to double-up, redistribute lines, and use additional musicians and dancers, makes it an ideal choice for Primary School, Drama School or Church Christmas production where it can be performed by a class, mixed age cast, or by adults for an audience of children
Aesop’s Fable-ous Christmas Tree by Michael Gravois
Aesop’s fables are given a festive spin …
There’s a mash-up of The Twelve Days of Christmas and The Tortoise and the Hare, where the six birds of Christmas compete in a comical race — with the turtle dove winning, of course. And a tiny snow mouse teaches the abominable snowman that little friends may prove great friends. Ebenezer Scrooge realizes that wealth unused might as well not exist. Santa’s elves dream of a life outside the workshop as they sing a “patter poem” about their ideal careers. And even though the eight reindeer panic when Rudolph gets a cold in the nose, they learn that necessity is the mother of invention
These dozen vignettes illuminate important life lessons by re-inventing the classic fables, blending humor, rhythmic elements, rapping, puppetry, poetry, song and storytelling to create a fast-paced, fun-filled show that’s filled with Christmas spirit.
8 to 50 gender-neutral roles
Single set – runs about 60 mins
This new version for stage is so close to the original in intention and feeling that you might suspect that Carroll himself had written it! And yet, it includes many unusual and imaginative staging devices.
A group of performers seeks out Alice in order to provide “her turn” in Wonderland. And, as her adventure unfolds, they play the many characters she encounters and grows to love.
Area staging – cast of 8 to 13 characters
Emil and the Detectives by Carl Miller from Erich Kastner
If Mrs Tischbein had known the amazing adventures her son Emil would have in Berlin, she’d never have let him go. Emil is excited to be taking the train on his own for the first time. He doesn’t like the look of his fellow passenger, the man in the bowler hat. Emil will just have to keep his wits about him and his money in his pocket. But Emil falls asleep and when he wakes up the man in the bowler hat is gone – and so is the money! Emil is determined to get it back. He teams up with a gang of young detectives and so begins a hair-raising chase across Berlin to catch the dirty rotten thief…
Suitable for children age 7 and above
First produced at the UK’s National Theatre in 2013
Erich Kästner was a German author, poet, screenwriter and satirist, known primarily for his humorous, socially astute poetry and children’s literature. For the latter contributions he received the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1960. Carl Miller was the Artistic Director of the Young People’s programme at the Royal Court Theatre from 1997 to 1999. Since 2002, he has been the Literary Manager of the Unicorn Theatre. He was textual advisor on Phyllida Lloyd’s production of Webster’s THE DUCHESS OF MALFI at the National Theatre in 2003.
Roald Dahl’s much-loved story follows the vain attempts of three farmers, Boggis, Bunce and Bean, one fat, one short, one lean, to get rid of the fox who regularly steals food from their farms. They try to kill him by any means possible. Outwitted at every turn, the farmer’s ploys backfire.
FANTASTIC MR FOX devises a plan which will ensure full stomachs for not only his family, but all his friends, who celebrate with a sumptuous feast.
This enthralling story by Roald Dahl, adapted for the stage by David Wood, can be performed by a small company of experienced actors supported by a large number of community and child actors
“Another excellent adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s classic by David Wood . . designed to capture fertile imaginations with its appealing storyline and simple language, no wonder it is a hit” – The Stage
“This is a fantastic show to be enjoyed by kids of all ages” – Coventry Evening Telegraph
by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Full Length, Musical / Characters: 9m, 8f
Here is Rydell High’s senior class of 1959: duck-tailed, hot-rodding “Burger Palace Boys” and their gum-snapping, hip-shaking “Pink Ladies” in bobby sox and pedal pushers, evoking the look and sound of the 1950s in this rollicking musical. Head “greaser” Danny Zuko and new (good) girl Sandy Dumbrowski try to relive the high romance of their “Summer Nights” as the rest of the gang sings and dances its way through such songs as “Greased Lightnin'”, “It’s Raining on Prom Night”, “Alone at the Drive-In Movie” recalling the music of Buddy Holly, Little Richard and Elvis Presley that became the soundtrack of a generation. An 8-year run on Broadway and two subsequent revivals along with innumerable school and community productions place Grease among the world’s most popular musicals. “A lively and funny musical–as well as the dancingest one in town…it’s a winner…the songs are dandies [that portray] the early rockers with zip and charm…the sheer energy of Grease carries all before it.” – N.Y. Daily News
by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Full Length, Musical/ Characters: 9m, 9f
ABRIDGED VERSION FOR SCHOOL PRODUCTIONS
Groups who perform for young audiences or produce musicals with young actors now have an ideal version of GREASE for their needs. Shorter and more suitable in content for teens and subteens, this abridged version retains the fun-loving spirit and immortal songs that make GREASE a favorite among rock and roll fans of all ages. Here is Rydell High’s senior class of 1959: duck-tailed, hot-rodding “Burger Palace Boys” and their gum-snapping, hip-shaking “Pink Ladies” in bobby sox and pedal pushers, evoking the look and sound of the 1950s in this rollicking musical. Head “greaser” Danny Zuko and new (good) girl Sandy Dumbrowski try to relive the high romance of their “Summer Nights” as the rest of the gang sings and dances its way through such songs as “Greased Lightnin'”, “It’s Raining on Prom Night”, “Alone at the Drive-In Movie” recalling the music of Buddy Holly, Little Richard and Elvis Presley that became the soundtrack of a generation. An 8-year run on Broadway and two subsequent revivals along with innumerable school and community productions place Grease among the world’s most popular musicals.
Holka Polka by D.M. Larson
Join a good little witch who sets out to save Fairy Tale land with the help of the Big Bad Wolf and Cinderella. This a Fairy Tale Mystery that puts a new twist on some famous fables such as Humpty Dumpty, Pinocchio, Little Red Riding Hood, The Wizard of Oz and Hansel and Gretel – 6+ female, 2+ male, 11+ either and optional extras
Jack and the Beanstalk by Paul Kalburgi
Large mixed cast
The classic pantomime re-imagined!
Sing, shout, boo and cheer as our hero Jack journeys to the top of the beanstalk in search of his fortune and a better life for him and his sick mother
But Jack is not the only one seeking his fortune…
… his wicked Aunt Verruca and crazy new cousin Dame Dilly Dally are hot on his heels!
Meanwhile, on the eve of the Princess of Diamonds’ birthday party, the King of Spades has threatened the entire village of Lillyshaw with a demolition order if his precious golden items are not returned
Jack is guided on his adventure by good and bad fairies Virtue and Jeopardy, but when he finally reaches the top of the stalk things aren’t quite what … or who they seem!
Good wins over evil and he who dares to venture into this strange new world shall be rewarded with riches … and true love!
Complete with Pat the pantomime cow, Tom, Dick and Harry the three palace jesters
And of course, those magic beans!
TO READ THE OPENING SCENES, click here
This version of Macbeth, adapted and abridged by director Carl Heap, preserves the core of Shakespeare’s plot, retains the original language, yet is presented very much with the target age group in mind
And Carl Heap’s inspiring introduction will help readers, teachers, and practitioners to imagine, produce, and stage their own version.
This great value festive Collection offers no fewer than 15 Christmas plays
These humorous, down-to-earth plays each bring a fresh perspective to the Christmas story through such creative devices as imagining the thoughts and feelings of fringe characters (like an innkeeper or a servant or one of the magi)
Or by updating the story with contemporary settings and characters
It also offers a variety of practical material for a range of situations – from shorter plays with small casts and lines that can be easily mastered by younger children to more elaborate pieces with sophisticated themes for older children and adults
The flexible scenes are especially valuable for small congregations that lack the resources to mount large-scale productions
No sets are required, and only simple costumes and minimal props are needed
And with a running time of about 20 minutes each, it’s easy to fit them within a Christmas Eve or Advent Sunday worship service
No Stable Too Small
Love Finds a Way
It Wasn’t the Hilton, You Know
Christmas Eve at Angel School
Because God Said So, That’s Why
No Small Parts
“Unto Us a Child Is Born”
Miracles? No Problem!
And seven more!
Playscripts for Primary Schools moves beyond the traditional end-of-year or Christmas production to show that working together with variously sized groups of pupils can be a valuable curricular activity. The author’s playscripts can be used for many purposes e.g. to reinforce or introduce history topics, for group writing exercises, to build co-operation and problem-solving skills and a way of opening up discussions on any range of topics. The playscripts can also be customised to suit individual schools and location, and to include opportunity for improvisation.
The Christmas Cracker
Mother writes a letter to Santa, asking him to help her children find the spirit of Christmas.Santa sends his Sprite, who travels in an enormous Christmas cracker, and who gives the children five crackers to pull. Each cracker contains a different scene showing people giving at Christmas, and the play ends in the stable where, surrounded by the traditional Nativity characters.
Cast : 38 ( mostly variable m/f ) + shepherds, angels etc
Suggested Age Range : 5 to 8 – runs about 45 minutes
Music : Various Christmas songs throughout
Set : Home; Santa’s workshop; in the sky; the soup kitchen; Bethlehem (One Christmas-style backdrop would suffice)
Who Is Welcome?
This is the story of a group of aliens who, whilst following the Christmas star, crash-land on Earth. Here they meet a variety of characters, pirates, animals, kings and shepherds all travelling to Bethlehem to see the new-born king. Worried that they are either too dirty, strange or wicked, they are relieved to find that all are welcome in the stable.
Cast : 36 ( mostly variable m/f ) + shepherds, angels etc
Suggested Age Range : 5 to 8 – runs about 45 – 50 minutes
Music : Various Christmas songs throughout; a suggested list is provided
Set : In a spaceship; in the woods; the stable, or can be played with a backdrop of woods throughout
Darker than the Disney classic, this is a Jungle Book red in tooth and claw. Packed with great songs and a snappy script, this show knows exactly what the kids want. The story begins with a little boy lost in the jungle. The evil Shere Khan, the tiger, stalks him but before he can kill him, Akela the wolf, and king of the jungle, protects the young boy and takes him in as his own. We follow Mowgli, the boy, as he grows in the wild, learning from his wise teachers, Balu and Bagheera, playing with the monkeys and trying to hide from Shere Khan. As Mowgli grows, he begins to wonder of his life with the men and following a large argument returns to his village where he is faced with yet more alienation and struggle. This is a heart-warming story,that shows the importance of friendship and trust within diversity.
Acting edition from Samuel French
Here are Milo’s adventures in the Land of Wisdom where he’s forced to think about many new things. Milo learns of the argument between King Azaz and his brother, the Mathemagician whose disagreement over words and numbers has led to the banishment of Princesses Sweet Rhyme and Pure Reason. Milo is dispatched to rescue the Princesses from the Land of Ignorance. The knowledge and skills Milo picks up on his journey help him to save the Princesses. When he must return home, Milo’s sorry to leave his friends– but enriched by his experience, he realizes his attitude towards learning will never be the same.
Keeping faith with the original story, the musical contains 10 catchy and lyrical tunes of differing styles. The story is set in a narrative style with cameo scenes acted out. There are 14 main characters, plus many smaller parts and a chorus.
Runs about an hour and is suitable for Junior Schools (8-12)
This delightful stage adaptation combines all the joy and mystery of Kenneth Grahame’s much-loved classic with the lightness of touch and playful theatricality that award-winning playwright Mike Kenny is known for.
Tired of spring-cleaning, Mole leaves Mole End and ventures out to the riverbank, where he befriends the resourceful Ratty, the gruff Badger and the infamous Toad of Toad Hall (Poop-poop!). Together they explore the Wide World, and the Wild Wood, and try to keep Toad out of trouble…!
With ample opportunities for creativity on stage and wonderful character parts for actors, it is ideal for schools and youth theatres, or any drama groups looking for a fresh new version of an old favourite.
Mike Kenny is one of Britain’s leading children’s playwrights, and was included in the Independent on Sunday‘s list of Top Ten Living UK Playwrights. His adaptation of E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children won an Oliver award for Best Entertainment and has toured worldwide.
Winner Tony Award 2011 – Best Play
At the outbreak of the First World War, Joey, young Albert’s beloved horse, is sold to the cavalry and shipped to France. Caught up in enemy fire, fate takes Joey on an extraordinary odyssey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man’s land. But Albert cannot forget Joey and, still not old enough to enlist, he embarks on a treacherous mission to find and bring him home.
Nick Stafford’s stage adaptation of the celebrated novel by the Children’s Laureate (2003-5) Michael Morpurgo leads us on a gripping journey through history.
The Oxford Playscripts series offers exciting and skilful adaptations of a range of modern novels and includes:
- New, innovative activities specifically tailored for Key Stage 3 – 11-14 year old students
- Activities include work on Speaking and Listening, close text analysis and the structure of playscripts, and act as a springboard for personal writing
- Insights into the plays themselves by their popular authors and adapters
- Advice on staging