Exciting, challenging or fun plays for young people to enjoy and develop their skills
ActUp's student drama plays are fun, exciting opportunities for young people of all ages to perform on stage. Minimal directions, lots of speaking, non-speaking and support roles, different subjects and range of storylines add to acting opportunities.
Longer plays (60-75 mins) are perfect as a main production, shorter plays (15-20 mins) offer lots of beginner roles. Perform two or three plays together to create a varied production.
Lots of variety and great for the audience to watch too! Each of the following plays below has a play title, cast number, indicative (only) age level, length, description and director comment (if performed).
Cast and time: 7 children, 15-20 minutes.
Description: In a fruit market the fruit sellers are trying to sell different coloured fruit eg purple bananas, to a customer.
Director/Teacher comment: This is a fun, funny and witty little play. Children got a kick out of thinking about the different coloured fruits and the fact that they were the ones selling them, and trying to be serious about it. Once again characters can be developed as little or as much as you like. Having different characters as fruit sellers for variation. It is simple yet humorous, with the opportunity to develop own fruit props. The end of the play children threw fruit lollies into the audience, appreciated by the audience and children alike. I noticed they kept a couple back for themselves!
Cast and time: 16 children, 25-30 minutes.
Description: Different fairy tale characters meet in the bedroom of the three bears house, catch up on past history and learn that buying gold dust lottery tickets is the modern way of spinning gold in the hope of winning fame and fortune.
Director/Teacher comment: Looking for fame and fortune and a fun filled play to perform? Then look no further than this. A mixed up fairytale with a happy and financially fitting ending. The three little pigs are in the bear’s house and rumpelstiltskin has the winning lotto ticket! This play has a good amount of lines for children aged from 5-11 years. It has a good pace with nice timing. The only trouble is Papa bear has gas; porridge tends to disagree with him. The children will enjoy the different take on the old classic fairytale characters providing humour and enjoyment for both actors and the audience.
Cast and time: 12-15 children, 15-20 minutes.
Description: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves are going on a road tour with the Three Little Pigs. While practising their dance routine Dopey falls into a book called Twisted Traditional Fairy Tales. What follows is an adventure within the book.
Director/Teacher comment: Think you can get it all in one play? Pigs might fly right? Wrong. This is a rip snorter of a play. The children loved performing and laughed at the jokes, well for a while anyway. As for myself I laughed at the jokes every time and the audience were in fits of laughter. This play gives the director a lot of scope to work with depending on the children’s acting ability. The combination of fairytale characters (with a twist), the humour and just the right amount of dialogue makes this play one of my favourites. A pleasure to direct, the children loved rehearsing and learned their lines very quickly which I believe is a tribute to the play and the writer. You can’t go past this one, it really brings home the bacon.
Cast and time: 9 children (include more or less), 15-20 minutes.
Description: Imagine a pet shop selling hens that lay bricks or dogs that tap dance. This play is set in a pet shop with a difference as the owner sells a myriad of unusual and fun pets.
Cast and time: 15 children, 15-20 minutes.
Description: The elves have finished their Christmas work. But they soon discover that the the addresses for delivering all the presents for Christmas is missing. They call Inspector Inspector and Assistant Inspector to help find the thief.
Director/Teacher comment: You can give this one a big tick! Tis the holiday season and holidays are being planned. Time to relax. Think again, time to add another thing to that ever growing Christmas ‘to do’ list. The box of presents for 2011 has gone missing. Call the police detective and his assistant, surely they will solve it…..hmmm maybe not! Who stole the presents? The cleaners who are pretty darn shifty or was it the delivery person? This play is hilarious. The children loved it. They loved the variety, the twists and turns and the unexpected. Great for a wide range of ages from 5years to 12years.The audience laughed the children took ownership of their characters and the silly seasons performance went off with a bang, just like a Christmas cracker! Easy to direct with a good amount of lines and excellent pace. This gets one big tick from me and the children.
Cast and time: 16 children, 25-30 minutes
Description: School friends visit the zoo except Walli who has an asthma attack. Friends are sad that Walli can’t be with them visiting the zoo. They decide that since Walli couldn’t come to the zoo then the zoo can come to Walli.
Cast and time: 4 young people, 20-25 minutes.
Description: Two friends are playing with the basketball. A group of four bullies approach them.
Director/Teacher comment: This play deals with the issue of bullying. The play has an excellent message and has a good balance of different characters. While directing this play I let the children take control over the type of ‘Bully’ they saw themselves as. This gave them responsibility for their character and they were able to create a history. There is a great opportunity to incorporate this into a unit of work around bullying and peer pressure. The bullying characters were over exaggerated by the students and were seen by the audience as ‘typical bullies’. The students made these characters seem ‘weak’ even though their words were ‘strong’. This I believe is the challenge in the play and a great focus for the students. The children really enjoyed this play. They found it easy to learn their lines and just long enough to get the message across. Parents loved it. “I saw another side of him” was a comment I heard. “That was great, well done, very believable”. Need I say more?
Cast and time: 32 young people, 25-30 minutes.
Description: In an acting studio the students rehearse activities that they've previously performed. They end with resounding musical songs.
Director/Teacher comment: What a Thriller of a Play. Written for the older age group from about 12 onwards. The play is written so that the students also have the opportunity to include their own ideas. This helped give ownership to their performance. Written at the time of Michael Jackson's death, the students, though hardly old enough to even remember when the song 'Thriller' was released, were touched by his passing and wanted to include this is the theme. However, the play is not directly related to Michael Jackson, rather it is based on the theme of mystery and the unknown. The students loved the characters and I found it very easy to direct. The play gives the director the opportunity to use different levels, groupings and a variety of characters. The blend worked well. You couldn't 'beat it'.
Cast and time: 7+ young people, 60-75 minutes.
Description: The deadline’s rapidly approaching for a group of students to finish their history assignment on life in 60s, 70s and 80s New Zealand. Each act introduces a new decade.
Cast and time: 16 young people, 30-40 minutes.
Outline: After weeks of rehearsal the performance rights for the production are cancelled. All is gloom until it's suggested to create a production that showcases the talent of actual locals within the school and community. With little time remaining all agree that this is a great idea and hold auditions. Suitable for large, multitalented casts (dancing, singing, skateboarding, etc.). top
Cast and time: 26 young people, 25-30 minutes.
Outline: The school sports team win and go through the national finals but unfortunately the school business class loses the sports team. Suitable for large, multitalented casts (dancing, singing, skateboarding, etc.).
Cast and time: 26 young people, 25-30 mins.
Rua, Ilam and King Edward, the potato carriers, must outrun the chipmongers and do business with the coal miners. Perhaps with co-operation they could all live together happily...
Cast and time:32 young people, 25-30 minutes.
Outline: Competition to play in the national Touch Sevens rugby finals is fierce between the teams. Two teams go all out to win but along the way resort to underhand tricks to find out the strength of the opposition. The final scene involves a game of touch being played on stage and amongst the audience.
Cast and time: 6 main roles with many crowd scenes and opportunities for one off dialogue, children/young people, 25-30 minutes.
Description: A stranger agrees to a deal with the King to try to help the Queen to speak. Lots of riddles, period clothing, jokes and crowd utterances.
Director/Teacher comment: Extremely humorous and widely appealing. The children loved the dressing up in period costumes and parents laughed and laughed at the humour. It kept the audience captivated and children eager to perform as it has variety and great pace. This play has some larger roles for more advanced and smaller roles for those at a beginning level. A great play for many to be involved. A great opportunity for those learning to read, and for those more advanced to provide scaffolding and guidance for those children. It was easy and fun to direct.
Cast and time: 14 children/young people, 25-30 minutes.
Description: Set inside a word document within a computer hard drive, Dylan and Emma get caught up with interpretations of fairy tales of Peter Rabbit, Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks as well as meeting a chatterbot which is a internet tool and AVs which are antivirus systems.
Director/Teacher comment: The students absolutely love it! They love the humour, the mix of fairytales and the world of today. The characters are brilliant, the variety is outstanding, with opportunities for larger and smaller roles and the opportunity for some fun costuming. The children had a ball!
Cast and time: 32 children/young people, 25-30 minutes.
Description: Three friends take a wrong turning while walking to school and end up in Horrorville which is a town full of vampires and zombies, dead plants, skeletons and knocked over pots and discarded clothes. The three friends have to escape or become.......zombies.
Director/Teacher comment: This play was not only fun for the performers and the audience, but it was a joy to direct. The children loved the mystery involved and also the chance for trickery and to 'solve' the problem. Costuming was fun and it was an excellent theme for the event of Halloween. The children loved the horror element. The play is written so that the theme is not a scary prospect for children, rather an opportunity to entertain and enjoy the mystery themselves in role.I recommend this play for the ages of 7yrs through to 10yrs.
Cast and time: 15-40 children/young people, 25-30 minutes.
Description: Santa Claus has gone missing. Police, elves and media crews all join in the search to find Santa. Lots of action with interviews, present wrapping, production lines, police interviews, tv crews, radio broadcasts.
Director/Teacher comment: Festive, fun and fantastic with humour, variety and a festive feel. This was so much fun to direct. Scene changes flowed easily and the use of lighting and or freeze frame imaging works well. I enjoyed working with the script as it was written for a range of age groups and seeing the collaboration of performances from all these groups together is very satisfying for both children, parents and for a director. A charming story, with a twist of cheese rolls and mutton pies and of course the left over fruit cake, something we can all relate to. Original and traditional at the same time. This play works extremely well and I thoroughly reccommend it. Suitable for all age groups. Loved it!
Cast and time: 10 children/young people, 15-20 minutes.
Description: It's time for a new carrot nose for the Antarctic Snowman. However, the Evil Penguins smell fresh vegetable and are definitely interested in grabbing a slice of the action. This play is full of crunch as the Howling Huskies and snow friends gather together to distract the Penguins and allow CarrotHead to complete the growing process so that the Antarctic Snowman gets a new nose - or does that happen?
Director/Teacher comment: Aimed for a younger group from 6 through to 10 years. This play has the ability to be adapted to suit the needs of the group. I added some dance moves at the end and included the bird dance as the group travel to see Walli. This worked well. Children love dressing up as animals, and those who prefer a larger role may choose to be part of the group visiting the zoo. You can cater to the needs of individual children with this one. A classic, simple yet effective play. Go bananas!
Cast and time: 6 young people, 20-25 minutes.
Description: Three people operate a stall. Customers discuss the goods being sold. After entertaining conversations customers leave happy but the stall holders are ecstatic with what the customers leave behind.
Cast and time: 16 young people, 25-30 minutes.
Description: There is an argument in a shop. A group of students are standing outside waiting for the bus. This is a series of short 2-4 minutes scripts played out by these students in groups of 2-4 commenting on what had occurred in that shop or what is happening between them at that time. Easy to add extra or remove existing scenes.
Director/Teacher comment: This play is full of humour. Ideal for students aged 13 to 17years. It is whacky and crazy and a load of fun for both actors and audience alike. This play needs to be performed with pace and has plenty of scope for the director to use many techniques and develop these zany characters. With what teenagers call ‘random’ lines this play will leave you…hmmm confused but in a good way. Not everything in this world needs an answer or even an explanation. You will have a lot of fun directing this play and your students will have the opportunity to explore the skill of pausing for laughs and develop a sense of comic timing and the importance of pace. So what is it all about you ask? Who knows? I certainly don’t, and neither will you.
Cast and time: 16 young people, 25-30 minutes.
Description: Three people are comfortably resting in a room when two more individuals arrive and accuse them of a crime. But who has actually committed the crime? All of them, some of them, none of them? Is it a case of mistaken identity? Has there actually been a crime committed? Who lives in the house? Why are they all there?
Director/Teacher comment: An extremely well paced comedy that sees a group of ‘innocent friends’ get away with, well, daylight robbery and even murder. The original ‘who done it?’ leaves the audience wondering, watching and hopefully surprised by the verdict. As a director you have scope to ‘really move’ this play and use all moments accordingly, making the most of the ‘moments’ and enhancing characters. The opportunity for the actor’s to develop their own identity, their own history and individuality, creating the perfect mix. Facials, little looks here and their, the rolling of the eyes, the opportunity to create suspense. A fun and thoroughly enjoyable play to direct, perform and watch. It has the ability to take the audience on a mystery journey that will not leave them disappointed.
Cast and time: 16 young people, 25-30 minutes.
Description: This is a mad cap, fast moving farce involving lots of action, lots of laughs, gumboots, swedes and a reported crime that has occured within the city.
Director/Teacher comment: A real hoot! A fantastically fun farce! Who's dead? Why are they dead? Who has a cell phone? Why does that even matter? Who loves chocolate chippie biscuits and why are there cheese rolls in gumboots? Oh and where does the swede come into it.This is a fun play. Students love the comedy attached. It poses a challenge for them. To keep this farce running, lines must be delivered quickly, and each character has the potential to create their own little world. Most of the characters work well when played 'over the top' and to the 'extreme'. The range in characters mean they bounce off each other well. It will have the audience in fits of laughter, even if they may not even know what they are laughing about!
Cast and time: 20-36 young people, 20-25 minutes.
Description: Budget cutbacks mean the high school’s performing arts course is to be stopped. Students perform a fashion show to raise funds for the course to continue with a walk off between four competitive individuals.
Director/Teacher comment: Remember the movie Zoolander? Hmmm maybe not. Perhaps Project Runway? Top Model? No, well it doesn’t matter, because this is just as funny and far better entertainment. Think Happy Days. Yes for those of you old enough to remember, if not just 'google it’ as they say. This play is suitable for teens. They loved the idea and were able to adapt to the characters well, I think they even got into watching a couple of Happy Days episodes on ‘Youtube'. Anyway, this is a hugely entertaining script. I like the way characters are grouped. It was easy to direct and fun to develop. The students thought it was a right hoot and acted and reacted well off each other. Especially entertaining the all important ‘Walk Off’. Have fun with this one.
Cast: 12-17 young people, 20-25 minutes.
Description: This play is set in a rehearsal room with contenders wanting to win the air guitar competition.
Rudolph's Deering Christmas Escape
Cast and time: 20-40 young people, 30-45 minutes.
Description: Christmas preparations are going very well with production schedules on time and present making in full progress until shock, horror, boom ..... Rudolph is captured by helicopter flying, deer capture humans who fire a net over poor Rudolph and pack him off to the deer capture pen. The sleigh is off balance, Santa and the remaining deer are upset, and worst of all Christmas is in doubt. What can be done???
Director/Teacher comment: Both the students and I had a terrific time with this play. Fun, witty and not what you would expect. There will definitely be no venison on the menu for Christmas dinner in your house after this play. With the classic reindeers making an appearance and their long lost cousins, (who knew they had cousins?), some good old kiwi farming blokes (with not too many tools in the shed) and of course Santa, this play takes you on a light hearted seasonal journey, full of laughter and the opportunity to add songs and music easily. You will definitely know why they call Christmas the ‘silly season’.
Cast and time: 15 young people, 30-40 minutes.
Description: This play is set in a Disenchanted Garden. Four friends are lost and trying to get home. They take a short cut through what they believe is the Enchanted Garden only to discover it is the Disenchanted Garden. As they try to find their way home they meet a number of familiar characters all of whom seem the opposite of what they should be. What is happening? Will they get home?
Director/Teacher comment: So, you are trying to find your way home. Easy enough right? Wrong. In fact it can be quite confusing, especially if you make your way through the Disenchanted Garden. All is not what it seems as a group of friends try to find their way home. The characters and plot for the play were inspired by children’s ideas, so it is bound appeal. From a super hero tiger, scared wolves and evil trolls that, well, are not evil at all, a gardner that doesn’t like footprints, an evil red riding hood, and a monster that is into peace and non violence it is all a very mixed up, upside down world. The children loved this play. They simply couldn’t wait to perform it. The characters are strong and they easily bounce off each other creating quickly delivered dialogue and the opportunity to create some wild and whacky costumes and even some dance.A dis enchanted garden but a rather enchanting play.
Cast: 16+ young people, 30-40 minutes.
Description: Mr. and Mrs Claus are the owners of Cafe Caffeine Claus. Rudolph is the waiter taking orders to the customers. Blitzen is the waiter taking orders from the customers. People are sitting at tables throughout the cafe having conversations. The other seven files contain the two-hander conversations (2-4 mins each) between different customers in the Cafe: Breakup, Challenge, Date, Goal, Kindle, Holidays and Stars in their eyes. This play uses a range of serious,funny and unusual real life issues and situations that may occur at Christmas.
Director/Teacher comment: Ever wondered what Mr and Mrs Claus do when it is not the Christmas and holiday Season? You guessed it, they run a café of course! And the hired help? Yep, Rudolph and the gang. These days it is all the rage to order a falpamamapamochachino and ‘do coffee’ with friends. This script or mini scripts come together to create one performance with plenty of scope for the teens to adapt and add to characters and storylines, especially Mr and Mrs Claus who create the links. It has opportunities for the students to develop a history for their characters and draw from their own experiences. Highly entertaining with variety to suit a wide range of students.
Performance rights and reading copies
Playmarket is New Zealand's playwrights' agency and script advisory service and manages and issues production licences for all ActUpStar plays. To get reading copies of any of these scripts or to apply for performance rights please contact Playmarket.