One- Act Plays
Is similar to a short story in its limitations.
There is a complete drama within one act. It
is brief, condensed, and single in effect.
One situation or episode is presented,
permitting no minor plots or side actions
that may distract attention for the single
purpose and effect being developed.
Characters are few in number, quickly
introduced, and very limited in character
development. Dialogue and Plot must carry
the action forward smoothly and quickly.
A one-act play is a play that has only one
act, as distinct from plays that occur over
several acts. One-act plays may consist of
one or more scenes. In recent years the 10-
minute play known as "flash drama" has
emerged as a popular sub-genre of the one-
act play, especially in writing competitions.
The origin of the one-act play may be traced
to the very beginning of drama: in ancient
Greece, Cyclops, a satyr play by Euripides, is
an early example.
Elements of One- Act Play
Ask yourself: What is the play about?
Revenge? Self- discovery?
Mind needs to be clear about the theme
Characters, plots, and sub- plots need to
point to and support the theme
Sub- plots might be missing in one- act
Different in one- act play from a full length
In a one- act play, there is only time for
one significant event
Determining place for hero, where all can
be won or lost
Events leading to this, can be included
without being shown to audience
The events that follow must be inferred or
understood by the audience
There is not much area to develop all the
The hero or the protagonist’s character
needs to be more developed and
The antagonist can be developed to
Some other characters can also be a little
bit developed to move the story forward
Economy is the key aspect here
Each line must be crafted carefully to
focus on the theme, the incident and the
character of the protagonist
The dialogues need not be terse, but
concise and full of meaning
Dialogues irrelevant to the plot, must be
altered or omitted immediately
Q. Write a short one- act play which
involves two characters following the
guideline given below.
o First students imagine the situation they
want to write about and write it down on
a blank sheet of paper
o Then they brainstorm the situation to
come up with ideas involving:
o the details of the characters, including their
relationship and the nature of the problem being
explored (two friends, son and father, daughter and
father, husband and wife …),
o the topic they are talking about
o the problem that arises in their conversation
o the time and background of the conversation, i. e. the
o how the play starts and how it ends
Students may then:
Work by themselves or with a partner
Do the drafting at home
Do editing in the classroom with the help
of classmates or teacher
Read out the play to the class
an older woman, hoping that a film of her life story
would both make her rich and free her from her
Pamela, a divorced career girl from the suburbs, rides
the commuter train back and forth to her glamour job in
London. However, Pamela's latest romantic coupling
threatens to veer off the track
Revenge is a dish best enjoyed cold, and Grace has
been cooking up hers ever since her husband dumped
her for Paulette, a younger lighter Second Mrs. Marwick.
Aspiring Playwright calls on Dionysus and Euripides for
help in winning a drama contest.
Group of unemployed people in support group try to
keep their spirits up while their desperation level rises.