Choosing plays for older kids to perform is not always easy – too old for the simpler, shorter pieces to be satisfying but without the experience and range of adult performers this age group is tricky to choose for. We’ve rummaged through our script library and racked out brains to come up with a collection of ten plays we think make a great selection to consider when planning your next high school production.
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Often seen as hard, Shakespeare wrote some the of the very best plays for older kids to perform and A Midsummer Night’s Dream is amongst the most popular. The Dream is a perennial favourite with performers and audiences alike and is a great choice for a summer production, especially if it can be staged outdoors. Requires a large cast and offers major and minor roles so provides an opportunity for a range of experience levels.
- The Glass Menagerie – a mid twentieth century American classic requiring a small, mixed cast. With strong themes of abandonment, imagination and memory it is a thoughtful, intelligent play that will give a cast of more experienced actors plenty to get their teeth into. If you have a strong art department there are great opportunities for imaginative visual staging.
- The Importance of Being Earnest – more than a century after it was written, the wit and humour of Oscar Wilde’s dialogue in this play of late Victorian English class, manners and deception still sparkle and delight.
- Almost, Maine – coming right up to date, John Cariani’s play was first produced in 2004. It is essentially a romcom, structured as a set of interlocking scenes with separate characters, exploring the romantic lives of the residents of the town of Almost, Maine. Sentimental, touching and above all, funny, one of the great modern plays for older kids to perform.
- The Crucible – Arthur Miller’s perennial favourite, exploring dark themes of adolescent obsession, mass hysteria and repressive state control. Offers roles for a large, mixed cast.
- Noises Off – a wildcard this one: Michael Frayn’s eighties farce is complex to stage, hard to direct and a real challenge to perform but is nevertheless a favourite with audiences and performers alike because it is such fun. A play within a play, it tracks the tangled lives of a touring theatre company as they attempt, with increasing diffiuclty, to ensure that the show will go on.
- Antigone – Even after 2,500 years Sophocles play still captivates audiences and performers with its exploration of power, morality and the law. Provides opportunities for a large mixed with challenging roles for the lead male and female.
- The Laramie Project – a controversial play exploring the aftermath of a (true life) homophobic murder and the nature of prejudice in all its forms. Despite (or perhaps because) of the difficult subject matter this is a stunning and powerful drama.
- Mother Courage and her Children – Bertolt Brecht’s challenging play exploring the morality and tragedy of war. The play is set in the 17th Century against the backdrop of Europe’s Thirty Years war. Provides opportunity for a large mixed cast and requires a strong female lead.
- Rumors – Neil Simon was writing purely for laughs here, and it works. Opening with New York’s deputy mayor shooting himself (but not fatally) events escalate through confusion and miscalculation to the point of complete farce. Pure, unadulterated fun.
So what do you think? Tell us your favorite plays for older kids to perform in the comments below.