Small-Cast One-Act Guide Online

This site is migrating to a new design.

Check out our progress here!


This site lists one-act plays for four or fewer actors, accessing worldwide over one thousand unpublished and published scripts in multiple languages in various media. Small-Cast One-Act Guide Online is a free resource for playwrights, actors, dramaturgs, agents, producers, publishers, students, and librarians. It encourages the production, publication, perusal, preservation of scripts.

"What's the point of a play that no one ever sees?"
--David Eliott Brown (Scottish playwright, 1964-2005)
"And to be a playwright today is to be a Willy Loman, where you take your plays in a suitcase and go anywhere."
--John Guare, responding to Arthur Miller in a round table,
The New York Times, September 24, 2000

Your visit is number  since April, 1995.

Anyone e-mailing, telephoning, or writing a playwright or agent for permission to read or use plays should begin with a clear, adequate self-introduction and pertinent information about intentions.

Small-Cast One-Act Guide Online encourages paying living playwrights. Remuneration for script use enables them to continue their creative output. A handy chart explains free use of scripts through public domain. Another chart amplifies conditions.

Playwrights should read News Flashes for addresses to send scripts for production or publication or competition.

Librarians have a special theatrical role: to keep scripts available for stage and study. For this, librarians can e-mail individual playwrights for archival copies.

Tips on organizing and conducting your search

Usually, the author index and the cast size/gender index are the best places to start your search.

To find plays with specific themes, use Google's site search capability to search within
Small-Cast One-Act Guide Online. Enter the search terms you're looking for, followed by the word "site" and a colon followed by the domain name. For example,
prison twin would find scripts involving prison and twin. Or, "first encounter" 10-minute would find 10-minute scripts involving first encounter.

The table of contents (10K) itemizes this Website's sections, as does the table of contents in the counterpart print volumes.

The acknowledgments (7K) list recognizes helpful persons and institutions.

The foreword (6K) presents a significant testimonial.

The preface (24K) explains purpose, perspective, scope, discoveries and possibilities, and origin of this site.

The introduction (15K) describes the parts of the site.

The author index (269K) lists authors' names with their plays cited here, giving genre and cast/gender identification, and the date the citation was posted online. Use this index if you want to see a list of all included plays by a given author. These playwrights are available almost always via e-mail connection from within the play descriptions. If not available through e-mail, they or their agents are available via the supplied telephone, fax, or postal addresses. Clicking alphabetical tabs at the top of the index can speed your search.

The cast size/gender index (297K) sorts all plays cited on this Website by number and gender of actors. Use this if you seek scripts of a particular cast size and gender. Clicking cast size/gender tabs at the top of the index can speed your search.

The title index (277K) names and links all plays cited here. Use this if you already know the title of a given play. Clicking letter tabs at the top of the index can speed your search.

The glossary (22K) explains common and uncommon terms used to classify plays by genre. The Webmaster invites expansions to these definitions and invites new terms.

The bibliography for playwrights (13K) provides helpful references for casual or serious authors.

The playbills by themes (37K) section offers programs built on themes. Sources for the plays named here are available in the complementary print volume or from the Webmaster.

The eighty script analyses (11K) section points to script analyses in the counterpart print volume.

The source directory for scripts (27K) names and annotates play publication houses, giving addresses.

The success stories (63K) of this site are growing. Mention your successes to the Webmaster.

The form for submitting a new citation (15K) handily allows playwrights, agents, and publishers to list here at no cost published/unpublished, produced/unproduced plays in any language. Indeed, non-English-language script citations are most welcome. Use this form to submit citations of one-act plays involving four or fewer actors (with possible extras), yours or anyone else's. Give complete information (with particular attention to the required e-mail address), as the Webmaster constructs the individual citations from your data, synopses and comments.

The form for ordering1/2/3/4 for the Show (9K) enables prompt purchase of the print guide, volumes 1 and 2.

The present Web links (57K) lead to extensive playwriting resources available elsewhere on the Internet. Most of these sites relate to the creation, production, and distribution of small-cast one-act scripts in all media. They include playwriting resources, production resources, publishers of print scripts, and publishers of electronic scripts. Other interesting links appear at the end.

The adding new Web links mechanism facilitates your sending suggestions to expand the present Web links.

The guest book (5K) invites you to register comments about the site.

The disclaimer (6K) addresses site reliability and pertinent legalities. The devil is in the details, as they say.

The general bibliography (42K) indicates the research upon which this site is founded.

Notes about the Webmaster (18K) add perspective.


Wordsss sponsors this site. Webmaster is Lewis W. Heniford,

Last-modified: December 13, 2005, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, U.S.A.


Small-Cast One-Act Guide Online


the more-extensive print volumes

1/2/3/4 for the Show: A Guide to Small-Cast One-Act Plays

vol. 1 [1995] and now vol. 2 [1999]

(Lanham, Maryland, U.S.A.; Folkestone, Kent, U.K.: Scarecrow Press, 1995, 1999), vol. 1 ISBN 0-8108-2985-1, vol. 2 ISBN 0-8108-3600-9

Scarecrow Press, Inc., 4720 Boston Way, Lanham, Maryland 20706, U.S.A.; and 4 Pleydell Gardens, Folkestone, Kent CT20 2DN, England

telephone 800-462-6420 or 301-459-3366, fax 800-338-4550

Review of volume 1 by BookList

This unique reference will be welcomed by speech and drama teachers, forensic coaches, or anyone who produces school or community theater. A series of one-act plays, featuring small casts (four or fewer characters), and written by well-known authors (Cornelia Otis Skinner, Eugene O’Neill, Guy de Maupassant, Elaine May, etc.) are presented for performance consideration These often hard-to-locate plays are first arranged by title according to cast requirements: one male, two females, etc. These entries provide basic bibliographic information, indicate genre, offer suggestions of other pieces that might be paired with them for a thematic program, and give ideas for tracking down the script, either through publishers or library collections. The second section is an author index. The third part provides a glossary of genre terms used in the entries: terms that allude to literary form (“abridgement” or “adaption”, “brief sketch”); physical description (“bare-stage”, “choreopoem”); and literary type (“mystery”, “craft cycle drama”). Each glossary entry includes one example of a play from the directory that fits into that category The fourth section is the feature that really sets this resource apart. “Playbills” offers suggestions for 25 possible theme programs. Three or four plays that relate to such topics as friendships or identity are grouped together, and then 80 individual script analyses follow. The analyses model actual playbills, including title, author, dramatis personae, and detailed plot synopses. “Comment” addresses production concerns regarding staging or lighting considerations, royalties, costuming problems, or cast requirements for accents or tap dancing skills Part 5 provides addresses for publishers. The author acknowledges the difficulty of tracking down one-act plays and discusses electronic sources (e-mail addresses, UseNet discussion groups) as well as print ones. This is followed by an annotated bibliography, the first half of which lists indexes and catalogs actually consulted; the second half suggests sources to consult for additional plays Field-tested in high schools, colleges, and community theaters, the plays range from classic selections to experimental pieces. Heniford, a teacher, actor, and librarian, has produced a guide that will be of interest to any collection that supports a drama curriculum or community theater.

Review of volume 2 by Library Journal, October 15, 1999

Following a successful first volume published in 1995, Heniford­—a drama teacher and librarian—has compiled a second volume that serves as a guide to 2200 one-act plays with fewer than five cast members. The new volume has been expanded by 25 percent. Improvements over the first volume include a synopsis of each play in the author index or main entry section. Additional information about each play—including genre, theme, cast size, availability of scripts (sometimes with an Internet address), and often reviews or comments from other sources—is included in the main entry section. There is also a cast/gender and title index. A number of the playwrights listed may be better known for full-length plays or other works (e.g., A.R. Gurney, Wendy Wasserstein, Moss Hart, Barry Schisgal, O. Henry). Heniford, who has made small-cast one-act plays his life’s work, also offers a web site ( that contains some of the same material included here. This volume will be of use in libraries whose clientele have an interest in producing one-act plays and wherever the web site is not sufficient.­—Christine E. Bulson, SUNY at Oneonta Lib. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Review of volume 2 by Choice, March, 2000

. . . [M]eticulously researched . . . both volumes are valuable; academic libraries supporting theater curricula will want both. . . . Heniford’s volume 3 is awaited eagerly.

Review by Booknews

Drama instructor and director Heniford augments his 1995 first volume with details of a further 2,200 plays. He includes synopses, sets, quotations from other sources, publishers, themes, quotes from reviewers, and even ISBN number to help find available editions. He also indexes them by author, title, and size and gender of the cast. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Both volumes of this guidebook are available in 2-3 days from