nine short plays with all-female casts
by Rich Orloff
FEMALE PERSUASION is a collection of nine short plays (a mix of comedies and dramas) with all-female casts, designed to be performed by an ensemble of between 6 and 31 women. Acclaimed at short play festivals around the world, some of the plays are original stories, and others are contemporary adaptations of classics by O’Neill, Strindberg, Chekhov, Milne and others, occasionally altering genders of the characters but striving to remain true to the spirit of the original.
The plays include:
AFTER BREAKFAST, a contemporary adaptation of the 1916 drama “Before Breakfast” by Eugene O’Neill – Faced with a pile of unpaid bills on her breakfast table, an overwhelmed wife underestimates the cost of getting her husband to face facts. “Keeps us entertained,” wrote The Houston Press. (1 w., 40’s, about 10 min.)
GRAM FOLDS THE LAUNDRY – An elderly woman folds laundry while her daughter irons. What appears to be an everyday conversation leads to a momentous decision by the older woman. Santa Monica Evening Outlookcalled it “a wonderful piece”. (2 w., one 40’s-50’s, one 70’s-80’s, about 10 min.)
ME AND MY SHADOW, a comedic contemporary adaptation of the 1915 play “Overtones” by Alice Gerstenberg – When two estranged women get together after many years, their inner selves keep reminding them of the gap between who they are and who they wish to appear to be. Capital Gazette called it “a gem”. (6 w., 20’s – 40’s, about 20 min.)
THE STRONGEST, a contemporary adaptation of the 1889 drama “The Strongest” by August Strindberg – A self-satisfied woman meets for a drink with a younger woman who had an affair with her husband. In this case, inaction may speak louder than words. (3 w., mid-20’s – 50’s, about 10 min.)
THAT BITCH, a contemporary adaptation of the 1888 comedy “The Bear” by Anton Chekhov – A woman in mourning over her late husband is confronted by her bear of a neighbor about the misbehavior of the mourner’s dog. Sparks fly, revealing a side to the mourner she never realized before. (3 w., 30’s-40’s, about 12 min.)
VOWED AND WOWED, a contemporary adaptation of the 1919 comedy “The Camberley Triangle” by A.A. Milne – An easily confused woman can’t decide between her spouse, just returned from war, and her secret lover. I’ve retained some of the dialogue from Milne’s play, which has quite a different feel when all three characters are female. (3 w., 20’s, about 12 min.)
WHY EMILY NEEDS THAT OUTFIT – A question about whether or not to buy a new dress has existential ramifications. A finalist for Actors’ Theatre of Louisville’s Ten-Minute Play Contest. DramaLogue called it “the high point of the evening”. (2 w., one 40’s or so, one 70’s or so, about 10 min.)
THE WOMAN WHO WANTED HER HUSBAND, a contemporary adaptation of the early 1920’s comedy “A Matter of Husbands” by Ferenc Molnar – A distraught woman confronts a canny actress with evidence that the actress is having an affair with the woman’s husband. The actress interprets the evidence differently. (2 w., 30’s – 50’s, about 10 min.)
A WOMB WITH A VIEW, an adaptation of my own comedy “Last-Minute Adjustments” – A young girl, minutes away from being born, has second thoughts about leaving the comfort of her current home. Then contractions begin. Winner of the Audience Favorite Award, Driftwood Players Short Play Festival. The Edmonds Enterprise called it “an original, imaginative, consistently funny comedy.” (4 or 5 w., ages can vary, about 10 min.)
The plays in FEMALE PERSUASION have been produced at WorkShop Theater Company in New York, Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA, in play contests and community theaters, and in colleges and high schools (especially ME AND MY SHADOW and A WOMB WITH A VIEW).
The full collection of FEMALE PERSUASION has not yet been produced.