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Play Within a Play: Actors, Actresses or Acting

These plays all feature actors or actresses. The first section are plays within a play.

The second section has plays about actors or actresses. They could include scenes where the character is acting as their hobby or profession, or they might not.

Plays Within a Play

Noises Off  by Michael Frayn (3 Acts)

The cast of a play called Nothing On is running through a technical rehearsal. It’s a farce and satire about a house for rent and the shenanigans of the people involved. The second act shows the behind-the-scenes action during a performance of the play. The third act shows the audience’s perspective during a performance.

The beginning of this play can be read in the preview of Noises Off(40% in)

The Two-Character Play by Tennessee Williams (2 Acts)

Felice and Clare, a brother and sister, are the only two from their acting troupe to arrive at their destination, a run-down little theater. They perform The Two-Character Play. There’s confusion around the audience, the story of the play, and between what’s real and what’s illusion.

Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello

The performers wait for a play rehearsal to begin. The Producer enters to get things started. The group is interrupted by six strangers. They claim to be unfinished characters who haven’t had their story told. They’re looking for an author to finish them.

Plays About Actors or Actresses

At Liberty by Tennessee Williams (1 Act)

A middle-aged woman sits up at 2:30 in the morning. Her daughter, Gloria, comes home, escorted by a n ungentlemanly man. Gloria and her mother argue about the people she sees and her health. Gloria is back at her childhood home after her career as an actress has taken a down turn.

This play can be read in the preview of Tennessee Williams: One Act Plays. (53% in)

The Swan Song by Anton Chekhov

Vasili, sixty-eight years old, walks onto a theatre stage. It’s late and everyone is gone. He fell asleep in the dressing-room. Earlier, he gave his final performance. Vasili laments his life.

This play can be read in the preview of Delphi Complete Works of Anton Chekhov. (43% in)

Starstruck by Roy Williams

Dennis, a young man, is at a Kingston Bus Station. Another young man arrives carrying several bags. Dennis starts talking to him, but the man is suspicious. His mother warned him about thieves. Dennis assures him he only wants to help. He calls a cab for the man. Dennis hears from his girlfriend, Pammy, about a movie star who’s shooting a film in Kingston. Meanwhile, Gravel plans on starting a taxi service.

The beginning of this play can be read in the preview of Starstruck’ & ‘The No-Boys Cricket Club(Kindle preview)

The Stronger by August Strindberg

Two women, both actresses, meet in a coffeehouse. Mrs. X comments on Miss Y being alone on Christmas Eve, and on her failed marriage. Mrs. X’s monologue continues, revealing their history and rivalry.

Once in a Lifetime by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart (3 Acts)

Vaudeville performers George, May, and Jerry head for Los Angeles to get into the movies. With the movies now having sound, they figure actors who know how to use their voices will be in demand. They also plan to open a school of elocution. On the way, they meet Helen, a prominent film critic and Susan, an aspiring actress.

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