Here is the introduction to the parallel print volume, 1/2/3/4 for the Show: A Guide to Small-Cast One-Act Plays, published by Scarecrow Press, Inc., ISBN 0-8108-2985-1. The following explains organizational principles of the print volume, many of which also apply to this on-line iteration.
The term one-act alludes to the published/unpublished, produced/unproduced text of a dramatic performance entity short enough to stand alone but generally given as part of a larger bill onstage or in other media. It sometimes also alludes to the image record of such an entity for any transmission or playback medium (which opens the field of half-hour TV dramas). Its relationship to the full-length play is analogous to the short story-novel relationship.
A few other definitions may help the reader. Throughout this guide, one-act, play, playscript, and script are synonyms, to alleviate repetition. Abbreviations for cast size and gender are joined into one term, such as 1m (one male), 1f (one female), 1m3f (one male and three females), and so on.; offstage voices and extras are usually noted but not counted in cast size. The Glossary of Genres helps to explain theatrical jargon. Annotations in the Source Directory for Scripts and the Bibliography frequently include subjective comments intended to help the user.
Interpretation: The title is "All Strange Away." The genre is drama. The author is Samuel Beckett. The cast size is one. The gender of the role is male. The play comes from Rockaby and Other Short Pieces, in which appear three other small-cast one-act plays that suit a bill on which this play might appear. The vendor is Samuel French, Inc., which tags it by the number 18643. The script is in the special theatre collection at North Salinas High School, where it is available for reading (see page 259); the accession number there is 27753. No International Standard Book Number is available.
Interpretation: The title is "Eat Cake." The genre is drama. The author is Jean-Claude Van Itallie. The cast size/gender is one male and one female. The play comes from Seven Short and Very Short Plays, in which are five other small-cast one-act plays that suit a bill on which this play might appear. The vendor is Dramatists Play Service, Inc., which tags it by the number 4726. The script is in the special theatre collection at North Salinas High School, where it is available for reading (see page 259); the accession number there is pb65. Neither International Standard Book Number nor Library of Congress number is available.
Library of Congress numbers appear in
this guide only when no identifying International Standard Book Number
is available and when the Library of Congress number is available.
Interpretation: The author is Keith Miles. The title is "Dostoevsky." The genre is drama. The cast size/gender is one male and one female. The source is Russian Masters, in which volume appears one other small-cast one-act play that suits a bill on which "Dostoevsky" might appear. The vendor is Samuel French, Inc. That company tags the play by the number 20092. The script is in the special theatre collection at North Salinas High School (in Salinas, California), where it is available to the public for reading (see page 259); the accession number there is p2511. The International Standard Book Number is 0-573-60049-X.
Interpretation: The author is Horton
Foote. The title is "The Prisoner's Song." The genre is drama. The cast
size/gender is two males and two females. The source is The Tears of My
Sister/The Prisoner's Song/The One-Armed Man/The Land of the Astronauts.
The vendor is Dramatists Play Service, Inc. That company normally does
not cite International Standard Book Numbers, and here tags the play by
the number 2022. The International Standard Book Number is not available.
Interpretation: The genre term is bizarre comedy. Definition of the term is next. A specific example from the Title Index follows the definition.
Interpretation: The genre term is black
comedy. Definition of the term is next. A specific example from the Title
Index follows the definition.
The primacy of having appropriate talent
for any role should be self-evident; a director would never attempt the
play Hamlet without having an actor capable of playing Hamlet. On the other
hand, actors need to stretch in order to grow, and a caring director will
cast an actor who is nearly ready, who can grow into a role by the time
the play opens. Each of the eighty plays has a plot synopsis and evaluation
to assist casting and production. The synopsis captures the step-by-step
forward motion of the story. The evaluations variously consider the Aristotelian
elements of plot (plausibility and effectiveness), character (credibility
and progression), thought (themes), diction (language), music (aural poetry),
and spectacle (visual esthetics). Also, they consider production challenges.
Bennett Cerf, in At Random (1977), tells of an unprepared commitment by America's foremost playwright. Eugene O'Neill's drinking often led to blackouts; in fact, in 1909 his first marriage had resulted from one. He woke up in some flophouse with a girl in bed next to him, and he said, "Who the hell are you?" and she said, "You married me last night." [Donald Hall, ed., The Oxford Book of American Literary Anecdotes, New York: Oxford University Press, 1981, p. 230.]
An artistic commitment, as does marriage, severely commits time and energies. May this guide help the user find the most appropriate script to enjoy a felicitous commitment or, maybe, even to live happily ever after.
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Page updated April 13, 1996, October
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