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List of large cast plays by female playwrights

  • 1.  List of large cast plays by female playwrights

    Posted 07-29-2019 18:56
    We are playwrights in an online support group of women theatre artists offering the EdTA Forum members a list of published high-school-suitable plays that have (mostly) large casts with major roles for females. We've added information -- publisher, cast size, synopsis -- to save you time. Plays are listed in the order they were posted to our FB page. Some of the plays will be familiar to you; others are probably new. Thanks so much for supporting plays by women.

    The "Honor Roll" list of plays.

    WOMEN OF LOCKERBIE by Deborah Brevoort. (Dramatists Play Service). Full Length. Flexible set. Cast size: 5 women, 2 men. May be expanded with Greek-style chorus, permitted by the author) Synopsis: A mother from New Jersey roams the hills of Lockerbie Scotland, looking for her son's remains that were lost in the crash of Pan Am 103.

    RADIUM GIRLS by D.W. Gregory (Dramatic Publishing). Cast size: 5 women, 4-5 men, with doubling. May be expanded to 30 or more. Synopsis:  Inspired by a true story, Radium Girlstraces the efforts of Grace Fryer, a dial painter, as she fights for her day in court.

    LETTERS TO SALA by Arlene Hutton. (Dramatists Play Service). Full Length. Flexible Set. Cast: 12 women, 4 men. (doubling, flexible casting up to 21 women, 5 men) Synopsis: Adapted from the book Sala's Gift by Ann Kirschner and based on a true account, LETTERS TO SALA is a remarkable story of a young girl's survival during wartime Germany. Five years. Seven Nazi labor camps. Over 350 hidden letters. Sala Garncarz Kirschner kept her secret for over fifty years, but everything changes when Sala reveals the cache to her grown daughter, Ann, and her teenage granddaughters.

    AS IT IS IN HEAVEN by Arlene Hutton. (Dramatists Play Service). Full Length. Flexible Set. Cast: 9 women. (flexible casting up to 12 or more women) Synopsis: A religious community is changed when a non-believer has an ecstatic experience. The 1830's Shaker society of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, is set in ordered ways. Their once dramatic form of worship has by now developed into routine. The arrival of Fanny upsets the harmony; Fanny sees angels in the meadow, and soon all the young women are receiving spiritual "gifts" of songs, drawings, ideas and giggles, completely disrupting the community. The set is as simple as the Shakers: benches, baskets and laundry. Hymns sung a cappella punctuate the scenes of the play, which ends with a joyful explosion of Shaker singing and ecstatic dance.

    THESE SHINING LIVES by Melanie Marnich. (Dramatists Play Service). Full Length, Comedy/Drama 2 men, 4 women Total Cast: 6, Flexible Set

    110 STORIES by Sarah Tuft. (Playscripts). Full-length. Cast size: 8-26, gender and race flexible. Set: minimal. Author gives permission to edit out expletives. SYNOPSIS: "From the first crash at the Towers to a last goodbye at Ground Zero, 110 Stories takes us through 9/11 as told by those who were there. Based on interviews, this docu-play weaves together stories not shown on the news, from people we can relate to...a mother, a photojournalist, an ironworker, a chiropractor, and a homeless man who saved lives that day. Their unflinching, freaked-out and occasionally funny accounts take us back to when 9/11 was unimaginable, capturing the shock and horror of the day as well as the resilience of New York City in its aftermath. Remaining apolitical, 110 Stories memorializes September 11th by humanizing history to reveal our innate compassion." 

    SALVATION ROAD by D.W. Gregory. (Dramatic Publishing). 90 mins. For 16 performers (4M/12F), expandable, a few roles gender neutral. Two guys, one rusty old Honda, 24 hours to save a girl from her guru. When Cliff Kozak's hip older sister falls in with members of a fundamentalist church, she suddenly cuts off the whole family as "toxic." A year later, an unexpected sighting of Denise propels Cliff and his best friend Duffy into the heart of a deepening mystery. Is Denise a victim or an accomplice in her own disappearance? And where exactly do you draw the line between faith and fanaticism?

    RACE, by Jamie Pachino, adapted from Studs Terkel's bestseller RACE: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession. (Pioneer Drama Service, part of the International Plays for Young Audiences anthology.) 90 minute full length features 12 actors (expandable as needed), and a 40 minute version for Young Audiences features 5 actors (also expandable as needed). A racially diverse cast uses the words of Studs Terkel's oral history to paint a picture of race in America which has been performed across the country, including to over 25,000 students.

    O PIONEERS, by Darrah Cloud. (Dramatic Publishing). 6 W 6 M, plus chorus members, adaptation of the Willa Cather novel with music and singing. The story of a young woman whose family emigrates to the Nebraska plains. When her father dies, he leaves her in charge of the family and the land they have staked out. Against all odds, she succeeds, but at a great price. 

    JOAN THE GIRL OF ARC, by Darrah Cloud. (Dramatic Publishing). 2 W, 3 M, Joan as a real teenager who hears voices and believes them, as told by her sister.

    JOAN by Donna Kaz (Guerrilla Girls On Tour Publishing) The story of the young peasant girl who led an army to help crown a king and was burned at the stake for her efforts, the play incorporates Joan of Arc's own words from letters, chronicles and testimony at her trial to create the living story of a fearless teen who was bound by her oath to God. Movement and sound come together, flowing like a live-action montage that switches genres and settings in a flash, resulting in a dynamic and exhilarating play based on historical fact. 60-80 minutes. 2-6+ males, 3-10+ females (6-16 performers possible). Ideal for high schools, youth theaters, colleges and community theaters.

    AND WE WILL SHARE THE SKY by Donna Latham. (YouthPLAYS). Cast size: 8/expandable. Inspired by traditional tales of Nigeria and Senegal, including "How the Sun and Moon Came to Be" and "How the Sun and Moon Came to Live in the Sky." which received the KCACTF Mark David Cohen Playwriting Award.

    FULL BLOOM by Suzanne Bradbeer. (Playscripts). Full Length. Flexible set. 3 women, 2 men. The play has been double cast for high school purposes with the casts performing in rotation. There is also a 45 minute version used in competition; contact the author. Synopsis: Fifteen year old Phoebe Harris is a sensitive and observant girl struggling to find meaning in a culture preoccupied with youth and beauty. After a terrifying experience in which she finds herself the object of gendered aggression, Phoebe is forced to confront her previous assumptions about how to navigate her place in the world. A multi-award winning play that charms with its sly blend of intelligence, poignancy, and humor.

    WAVE by Victoria Stewart. (Playscripts.) 6 f, 6 m (11-20 actors possible) 35 minute one act play - In a high school with as many factions and rivalries as medieval Japan, Rebecca, the school's most uncool girl, decides to throw the party of the year. Wave is a funny and melancholy play about how loyalties and friendships can change in one pivotal night.

    PLAY NICE! by Robin Rice. (Original Works Publishing.) 3f; 1m. Full-length drama. Flexible set. Synopsis: Siblings enlist a homeless girl and use imagination to combate their dragon of a mother. Inspired by Genet's THE MAIDS. Ran Off-Broadway.

    HUMANS REMAIN by Robin Rice. (Blue Moon Plays/Have Scripts.)  5f; 2m; 1 African Dancer. All but one male are mixed race. Ages from young to elderly, but may be played by youthful actors. Flexible set. A powerful, intense, lyrical drama that pits the survival of the White Cliff Kinfolk, a peace-loving isolated society hidden in the New Jersey hills, against the intrusion of a curious journalist from the "outside."

    IT'S OUR TOWN, TOO by Susan Miller. (Playscripts). Drama. 25-30 minutes. Cast: 4-5f, 4-5m Flexible minimal set. In this homage to Wilder's classic play, Emily & Elizabeth fall in love in a small town, and then flash forward to the wedding of their son to their neighbors George & Louis' daughter. A witty and nostalgic exploration of love, loss, grief, commitment, and friendship as seen through the course of everyday life.

    TEEN MOGUL by Lucy Wang. (YouthPLAYS). Dramedy. 75 - 90 minutes. 3-13 females, 5-16 males (8-20 performers possible). High school and older performers, and middle school and older audiences. Tracy discovers the only way to save her family, her house, and herself is to rise up and be equal to her talent, not her age.

    READING LIST by Susan Miller. (Playscripts). Drama. 20 minutes. Cast: 3w, 4m Set: minimal suggestion of a Library. Some adult language. Author willing to change for high school productions. "What happens when a place where we once roamed freely for answers to our questions is under siege? READING LIST encounters people who, despite our present social and political climate, come to this place and are moved and transformed."

    GRAY MATTERS by Lucy Wang. (YouthPLAYS)..  Comedy. 10 - 15 minutes. 1 female, 1 male.  High school and older performers, middle school and older audiences. To break his losing streak on the basketball court, Gray enlists the help of feng-shui master Isabel, but helping him win may not be the only thing on her agenda…

    THE EXCEPTION by Olga Humphrey. (Dramatic Publishing). Full Length. Cast size: 4 women, 4 men. May be easily expanded for more roles. Synopsis: A brilliant painter. An influence on Rembrandt and Velazquez. The talk of 17th century Rome. And, most surprising of all, the artist in question was a teenaged girl who was at the center of a shocking trial involving her tutor, in this true story. The transcripts from the trial were used as the basis for this play, which has been done by both high schools and colleges.

    ANTIGONE IN MUNICH by Claudia Haas, (Playscripts). Cast Size: 13-40 (7f, 6m, extras needed for Hitler Youth, artists, students). Flexible staging, full-length. The play chronicles the development of Sophie Scholl from Hitler Youth to witness to activist.

    BY CANDLELIGHT by Claudia Haas. (Playscripts). Cast size: 10 (7f, 3m, extras possible). Full-length, area staging. After 9/11, young people are trying to connect to heal. Their methods include making chocolate truffles, painting murals and visiting each other's religion. Their methods may seem naive but their hope makes anything possible. Based on true stories.

    ANTIGONE X by Paula Cizmar. (No Passport Press.) Full-length. Cast size: 4 women, 4 men; may be expanded to 20 or more. Synopsis: The once-magnificent world is in a state of rage. War. Police violence. Terrorist threats. Demagogues. And Antigone X could be any of us who dares to stand up to unjust laws and demand, instead, the higher powers of tolerance and decency. 

    Set in a world that is exploding with rage, the new king Creon wants to repair Thebes, which is now in a state of ruin surrounded by refugee camps. Antigone X herself is a woman without a home, without a country. Natural laws of decency and love have given way to authoritarian laws that are inflexible and unjust. The dishonoring of the dead plus mass graves and barbaric cruelty are strategies intended to hurt, humiliate, and break the spirit of anyone who falls out of line. In this re-imagining of the play, the two sisters have a stronger presence in the story; Tiresias, the blind prophet, is now a female; and each characters' dreams of a better future are juxtaposed with the state of the world as it is. The play is a meditation on love, power, war, and the scars present in the aftermath of war.

    MEET ME AT THE GATES, MARCUS JAMES by Donna Hoke. (YouthPLAYS). Full Length. Flexible Set. Cast: 4 women, 6-7 men. (ensemble can add any number) Synopsis: When a black, gay high school student finds a pink noose hanging in his locker, he puts it on and all hell breaks loose, especially after the administration steps in and "handles" the problem in a way that makes Marcus an even bigger target. Adapted from the novella of the same name by Chris Crutcher (ALAN Award from The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents for Significant Contribution to Adolescent Literature, ALA Edwards Award, The Writer magazine Writers Who Make a Difference Award, Intellectual Freedom Award from the National Coalition Against Censorship).

    TROJAN BARBIE by Christine Evans. (Samuel French). Cast 14, 9 women. Full length. Mostly performed at colleges but has been done by several high schools. An original play inspired by TROJAN WOMEN: Past and present violently collide when Lotte, an English tourist who repairs dolls, is captured while on a tour of current-day Troy and flung back into the ancient camp of Euripides' Trojan Women. (Contains some sexual references but can be edited for high-school performances in consultation with author.

    WILD KATE: A TALE OF REVENGE AT SEA by Karen Hartman. (Playscripts). Comedy/Drama | 85 - 90 minutes. 7 f, 4 m, 3 either (11-14 actors possible: 7-10 f, 4-7 m) "Call me Isabel." A brainy teen with a chip on her shoulder seeks adventure and escape when she enrolls in High School on the High Seas. But soon Isabel, her new pal Quinn, and a rag-tag collection of classmates and crew find themselves swept off course in an extracurricular payback mission led by the boat's strange and formidable captain, Wild Kate. In this fast-paced contemporary adventure inspired by Melville's Moby Dick and the Deepwater Oil Rig disaster, these young sailors are forced to consider whether saving the ocean is worth risking their lives

    ALICE: Tales of a Curious Girl by Karen Hartman (Playscripts) 90 - 100 minutes 2 f, 3 m (5-46 actors possible: 2-46 f, 0-42 m) Set: Flexible. On a hot spring day, Alice leaps from a stifling photographer's studio into Wonderland, a world where cakes talk, cats smoke, and little girls change size. In Part Two, she tries to repeat the adventure by stepping Through the Looking Glass. Alice's second journey is more inversion than fantasy, a place of fleeting memories and mismatched childhood dreams. An invigorating race through the brain of a curious girl, based on Lewis Carroll's Alice books.

    TROY WOMEN, adapted by Karen Hartman (Playscripts) 65 - 85 minutes. 9 f, 3 m (12-20 actors possible: 9-15 f, 3-5 m) Content Notes: Adult language. A list of modifications is available for performers under 18 only. Set: Bare, flexible space. Something to climb at some point. Hecuba and the women of Troy mourn and celebrate their city on the morning after its destruction. Together, they grieve the deaths of their husbands and children as they await their fates at the hands of their Greek captors. With modern elements adapted into Euripides' classic, Troy Women is a chilling, brutal, but accessible portrait of women during war.

    LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, musical. Words by Donna DiNovelli. Music by Rachel Portman. (Broadway Licensing.) Two Acts. 120 minutes. 13 F, 12 M. Synopsis: Set on the vast plains of the American West, Little House on the Prairie is the story of one girl's struggle with the wildness in her soul. Both girl and land fight against the forces that seek to tame them in this epic, complicated story of Western expansion.


    GOVERNING ALICE, EVERYTHING SO FAR and RELATIVITY by C. Denby Swanson, all published by Playscripts. And a soon-to-be-published full-length commissioned by EdTA.

    COLONY COLLAPSE by Stefanie Zadrevac

    Arlene Hutton
    Playwright: Letters to Sala, I Dream Before I Take the Stand, Kissed the Girls and Made Them Cry

    faculty, The Barrow Group, NYC

  • 2.  RE: List of large cast plays by female playwrights

    Posted 07-30-2019 07:54
    Thank you for this!

    Tracy Bourne
    Director/Pathway Teacher
    On Stage Performing Arts Academy
    Kecoughtan High School
    Hampton VA

  • 3.  RE: List of large cast plays by female playwrights

    Posted 07-30-2019 09:10
    This is an incredible list. Thank you so much!

    I hope it is okay, but I've made it into a Google Doc so I can keep track and refer to it later. I've made it open for anyone with the link to view (but not edit) the list: 

  • 4.  RE: List of large cast plays by female playwrights

    Posted 07-30-2019 10:40
    Wow, thank you!!  My goal is to make sure at least half of my plays are by women, and/or adapted or co-written by women.  This is really helpful!  We've already done Radium Girls -- loved it so much.

    Josie Tierney-Fife
    English Teacher/Theater Director
    Gorham, Maine