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Poorly-Written Play Festival, The - Short Play, Comedy

Poorly-Written Play Festival, The

Carolyn Gage

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Short Play, Comedy

3m, 3f

ISBN: 9780573705786

“Absolutely the BEST of the 'insider' plays about community theatre we have read. A satire exposing whilst exemplifying all the elements of bad playwriting.” - International CringeFest, NYC.

More Information Below:

Description | Characters | Author | Reviews
: Acting Edition
: Large Print
: Stage Manager

Minimum Fee: $45 per performance


Short Play


40 minutes

Time Period - Present Day

Settings Of Play - The green room of a community theater. Present day.


No intermission

Interior Set


No Special Cautions


Adult, Senior, Teen (Age 14 - 18)


High School/Secondary, College Theatre / Student, Community Theatre, Professional Theatre, Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups

WINNER! Maine Literary Award in Drama, Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance.

Five members of a play selection committee have gathered in the green room to choose the plays for their Festival of Poorly-Written Plays. The artistic director begins with a review of the more common criteria for a bad play: blatant exposition and contrived names for the characters. He then suggests that they all go around the table and introduce themselves and say a little something about themselves - blatant exposition if ever there was. As he calls on Hedda, the literary manager, and Mrs. Bracknell, the benefactress, it becomes obvious that the folks around the table all have contrived names.

And so it goes… The committee enacts every broken rule of playwriting in the course of their wrangling over their selections of bad plays. These broken rules include the misuse of asides, characters who unaccountably reverse their positions, overly-complicated relationship histories, unrealistic set requirements, mysterious strangers, phony disguises, implausible explanations, significant action that takes place offstage, reference to scenes that have been cut from the script, and the setting up of audience expectations only to have them fizzle out.

This is a hilarious “actors nightmare” for playwrights, guaranteed to delight audiences, whose attempts to follow the action are constantly frustrated by the dramaturgical liberties of this “poorly-written” play. The incoherencies and inconsistencies build to a frantic climax, as the artistic director, faced with a plethora of plot difficulties, resorts to the cheesiest playwriting device of all.


“Absolutely the BEST of the "insider" plays about community theatre we have read. A satire exposing whilst exemplifying all the elements of bad playwriting.” - International CringeFest, NYC.

The Poorly-Written Play Festival premiered at the Maine One Act Play Festival in a production by Acorn Productions in 2005.



3m, 3f


Ensemble cast

LOMAN - The artistic director, a stick-in-the-mud, male, 30’s-40’s.
EUGENE - The technical director, a queen, 30’s.
HEDDA - The literary manager, a bitch, female, 30’s.
MRS. BRACKNESS - The wealthy benefactress, a crashing bore, female, 60’s
STELLA - The costumer, a tart, 30’s.  
STRANGER - Male, 60’s. 
Carolyn Gage

Carolyn Gage

Carolyn Gage is a playwright, performer, director, and activist. The author of nine books on lesbian theatre and seventy-five plays, musicals, and one-woman shows, she specializes in non-traditional roles for women, especially those reclaiming famous lesbians whose stories have been distorted or erased from history. She has won the national Lambda Literary Award in Drama and her play Ugly ... view full profile

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