These teen-lead contemporary dramas are not the standard “teen-issues” plays that appear in theatre classrooms, and are in no way reminiscent of classic characters (e.g. Emily Webb) found in audition rooms and monologue books. Instead, this collection of contemporary dramas offers meaty, darker material for actresses 14-26, as well as college-aged actresses.

  1. Pretty Theft – In Pretty Theft, Adam Szymkowicz applies adventurous storytelling to craft the world of two strong young women on the brink of adulthood. Featuring some dark moments and challenging scenes, this play offers rich roles for student actors.
  2. Mirror Mirror – Sarah Treem (HBO’s IN TREATMENT, A FEMININE ENDING) wrote this innovative dark comedy based on Snow White, only the heroine is a Transgendered teen. Originally produced at the Yale School of Drama, this poignant, progressive play raises many issues facing young adults today in a unique and artful way.
  3. Fall – The protagonist of this Susan Blackburn Prize-winner is 14 year-old Lydia, who after being forced to attend a swing dance camp with her parents, falls for the older Mr. Gonzales. A complicated love story in the vein of Paula Vogel’s How I Learned To Drive, this drama by Bridget Carpenter explores first feelings of love.
  4. Milk Like Sugar – This powerful, female-fuelled drama awed L.A. and New York audiences in 2011, winning playwright Kirsten Greenidge an Obie, the Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, and the San Diego Critics Circle Craig Noel Award for Outstanding New Play. Offering five strong roles for actresses of color, Milk Like Sugar is a powerful tale of one young women’s attempt to rise above her socio and economic conditions.
  5. Hazelwood Jr. High – Originally produced by The New Group in 1998, this true-crime drama helped launched the career of actress and 90’s “it-girl” Chloe Sevigny (KIDS, HBO’s BIG LOVE). This haunting play tells the story of the murder of 12 year-old Shonda, by a group of older teens. Dark and powerful, Hazelwood is a perfect selection for young producers looking for meatier coming-of-age story.
  6. Sick – The two young actors at the heart of this dramatic comedy take audiences through a hilarious journey as they wait for their test results at a local clinic. While there, they are haunted by their previous sexual encounters, and confronted with the realities of their futures. Developed by the class of 2007 of the New School for Drama, Sick is a hilarious ensemble piece with an eye-opening message and is one of the first published plays by the author of Oorah! and Be a Good Little Widow.
  7. Stunning – Sixteen year-old Lily knows nothing beyond the Syrian-Jewish community in Brooklyn where she lives a cloistered life with her much older husband. Soon an unlikely relationship with her enigmatic African-American maid opens Lily’s world to new possibilities – but at a huge price. David Adjmi’s daring new work shifts from caustic satire to violent drama as it exposes the ways we invent and defend our identities in the melting-pot of America.
  8. Crooked – Fourteen year old Laney arrives in Oxford, Mississippi with a twisted back, a mother in crisis and a burning desire to be writer. When she befriends Maribel Purdy, a fervent believer in the power of Jesus Christ to save her from the humiliations of high school, Laney embarks on a hilarious spiritual and sexual journey that challenges her mother’s secular worldview and threatens to tear their fragile relationship apart.
  9. Millicent Scowlworthy – A girl found murdered in the cellar on Christmas morning. A massacre at the high school. The grownups of the community want to forget, but the children have begun to meet in the middle of the night to remember. Nine teenagers gather at an overgrown memorial and reenact the story. Millicent Scowlworthy was supported by a residency and public staged readings at the 2002 O’Neill Playwrights Conference of the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, Waterford, CT.
  10. We Are Not These Hands – Ever since their school blew up, Moth and Belly have taken to stalking an illegal internet café in the hopes of one day being allowed in. They take particular interest in Leather, a skittish older man doing research in the café. Leather is a self-proclaimed “freelance scholar” from a foreign land with a sketchy past and a sticky secret. Leather begins to fall head over heals in love with Moth… but what about Belly? This play explores the effects of rampant capitalism on a country that is ill-prepared for it.

Honorable Mentions: A Rey Pamatmat’s Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them, David Rabe’s An Early History of Fire, and Megan Mostyn-Brown’s girl and The Secret Lives of Losers.

Print Friendly