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  • It's tiring to see the same predictable plays performed again and again at competitions. When a new play breaks onto the competition scene, a breath of fresh air rejuvenates the actors, crew, judges, attendees and, especially, the teachers who direct.

    Our team has carefully curated a list of the most refreshing, stand-out new plays for competition that have yet to make a splash, allowing your troupe to be ahead of, and lead, the trend.

    The following one-act plays have minimal staging requirements, follow competition guidelines, have gender-flexible and/or expandable casts, and are highly engaging, largely undiscovered and all-around unforgettable pieces for student actors.

    Click each title below for more information about each play, including a synopsis and an excerpt.


  • complete_history_of_theatre_abridged_one-act_version_cover_cr8000.jpgThe Complete History of Theatre (abridged) (One-Act Version) With a successful premiere at the San Diego International Fringe Festival, this educational, smart and equally bonkers tribute to all styles of theatre pays homage to well-known works and theatre greats throughout history. Quick-witted and lighthearted, this comedy has a small cast of 3 (2m., 1w.) with the option to add up to 10 actors of either gender, making it an excellent choice for small and large casting requirements.

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  • off_road_cover.jpgOff Road Dealing with themes of grief and loyalty, as well as excitement and confusion in romantic relationships, this new play penned by a high-school student for high-school actors is completely accessible, relatable and totally real. With a small cast of 4-5 actors, there are perfect opportunities to showcase a strong female and strong male actor.

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  • a_long_trip_cover_lm7000.jpgA Long Trip After successfully making its debut at several competitions and festivals around the U.S., this incredibly moving 12-minute one act recalls the memories of an elderly couple (one of them suffering from dementia) as their history is acted out onstage alongside the present. This short play offers excellent and emotionally challenging roles for 2 men and 2 women, especially for the female actor playing the elderly woman. This play is also super easy to stage with 2 chairs being the only set pieces.

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  • future_here_cover_fg1000.jpgFuture, Here This avant-garde drama with a gender-flexible cast of 5 actors is about an experiment involving five randomly selected kids who are sent to live in an unincorporated village until they are 18 with only smartphones and a steady stream of news and pop culture headlines connecting them to the outside. This play works as a very effective social commentary, and the author allows the headlines in the script to be updated to reflect current and relevant information in order to keep dialogue timely. This one act is performed with only five chairs and an optional table.

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  • why_we_like_love_stories_cover.jpgWhy We Like Love Stories Staged at the 2019 International Thespian Festival with only a handful of small wood crates, a bouquet of flowers and a Ziploc bag of grapes, this fast-paced, 25-minute show pays lip service to a heart-wrenching phenomenon that tends to occur in our teenage years: you like somebody, but they don't like you back; or someone likes you, but you don't feel the same way. Either way, it's complicated. Written by Stephen Gregg, author of long-time competition-winner and judge-favorite This Is a Test, Gregg's new one act features a small, completely gender-flexible cast of 4 actors.

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  • ghosts_in_the_machine_cover_one-act_.jpgGhosts in the Machine (One-Act Version) With a gender-flexible cast of 7, this 40-minute one act presents interesting challenges to a performing group with its unorthodox visuals and story presentation. At its core, this play explores our society's entanglement with technology, particularly our phones. Ghosts in the Machine underwent professional development at First Stage in Milwaukee and would make a groundbreaking competition piece.

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  • 146_point_flame_the.jpg The 146 Point Flame This 40-minute tragedy sheds light on the horrific Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 in New York City. As four young women contend with their quickly approaching and unavoidable deaths, actors onstage trade places and step into different roles acting out flashbacks of important memories and scenes, featuring intimate looks at their dreams, feelings and fears. The cast is expandable with 4-12 women and 1-7 men. This piece is also relatively easy to stage, highlighting a minimal set with atmosphere being of more importance than what is physically on the stage.

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Complete History of Theatre (abridged) (one-act)

Not what you were looking for? Check out our Past One-Act Competition Winners, UIL-Approved Plays, and All High School One Acts for more high-quality titles to choose from.