Advice to the Players

by  Bruce Bonafede

Full Length Play, Drama  /  5m, 1f

"Blazing with emotional force and moral complexities ... taut, searing inquiry into the inequities frequently perpetrated in the name of political justice." - Louisville Courier Journal

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Advice to the Players

by  Bruce Bonafede

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    5m, 1f
  • Duration


    90 minutes
  • SubGenre


    Period, Docudrama/Historic
  • Accolades


    Heideman Award, Humana Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, 1985
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Senior
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info


In 1984, a one-act version of ADVICE TO THE PLAYERS premiered at the "Shorts Festival" at Actors Theatre of Louisville. It received unanimous acclaim and was remounted a few months later at the Humana Festival in early 1985, where it received the Heideman Award as best one-act play.

The following year a full-length, 90-minute version of the play premiered at the Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays. The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote: "...a play of remarkable distinction…rare among American dramas in that it boldly brings up a moral issue for examination in strong theatrical terms. This is not a little play about little people leading lives of no importance…Succeeds in making it all emotionally engrossing as well as intellectually stimulating…the drama is 90 intense minutes…that brooks neither an intermission nor a resolution" - The Philadelphia Inquirer

Art and politics collide in this fictionalized account of a real-life event. The play tells the story of two celebrated black South African actors who have traveled to America to perform but are caught up in the world’s boycott of their country’s apartheid system – a system they have struggled all their lives to overcome.  

The shorter one-act version of ADVICE TO THE PLAYERS has been available through Samuel French since 1985. Now the full-length, 90-minute version has been made available for the first time.

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"…deserves to be widely seen." - The Guardian, London

"…a very interesting exploration…drew deserved cheers from the sophisticated festival audience for ensuring that both our intellects and our emotions had been thoroughly engaged. That balanced involvement of both thinking and feeling is the very essence of theatre." - The Irish Times

"States the problem with heart-breaking clarity…crisp, clever dialogue…brings out all the poignancy of an enforced privacy for those vulnerable people who life is, above all else, their very public art." - Time Magazine

"…it makes its point clearly and forcefully." - The Wall Street Journal 

"A situation electric with ironies, blazing with emotional force and moral complexities…A stunning moment of dramatic truth." - Louisville Courier Journal 

"…gripping, entirely convincing…a profound and memorable experience." - Sacramento Bee

"…received tumultuous applause…a moving testament to the solace and strength of true friendship (and humanity)." - San Francisco Examiner - Chronicle Datebook

"The political blow he strikes is swift and deadly. In that action, the power of the theater is driven compellingly home…" - Miami Herald

"The play raised some crucial ethical and political questions to which there are no answers – especially easy, painless, conflict-free ones." - Houston Post

"…reveals a mature skill and facility for juggling thorny social questions without getting preachy…an eloquent and compelling statement of the artist as pawn in a political web." - Washington Times

"…superbly crafted…manages to make us feel total sympathy for the two actors without turning the picketers into monsters…This is exciting, moving, often bitingly humorous, pertinent theater." - Baltimore News American

"There are occasions when a first-time playwright will come up with something so wonderful and so moving that one can detect a true genius at work…Advice to the Players is such a play, a work that indicts South Africa’s segregation policy of apartheid and in a broader sense, explores how artists fall victim to their craft….It’s the kind of moral dilemma that makes for compelling drama….It’s the kind of play that makes you laugh, cry, and seethe with anger. Drama like this is what theater is all about." - Herald Times, Bloomington, Indiana 

"The power is its chilling plausibility…The compressed writing moves with the implacability of tragedy, an example of art opening our eyes to a clear-edged reality we might otherwise consign to the blurred world of headlines and news blurbs." - Southline

"That conflict between art and politics, between principle and experience is always with us…a particularly vivid illustration of it." - New York Daily News

"…a moving study of two black South African actors caught in a political crossfire…" - Times Herald, Dallas

"…stunning…an anguishing, wrenching play…It is a sad fact that politics, especially international politics, so often loses sight of the human issues which spurred the politics in the first place. That is the sad, hard message of this compelling play…" - Poughkeepsie Journal

"…sheer emotional wallop…theatrical and passionate…This is a play that doesn’t have to worry about its future." - Savannah News-Press 

"Engrossing and well-executed…sure to find audiences around the world." - The Arts

"…deftly mixes art and politics in a lively script…"- Lexington Herald-Leader

"…obvious sense of mission and character…(the) lean dramatic structure limned the conflict so well that the audience ached with sympathy for the actors’ cruel fate…resonated with a sort of poetic beauty that transcended political right and wrong…the dramatic discovery of the season…" - The Columbia Flier 


Performing Groups

  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Reader's Theatre
  • Shoestring Budget
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups


  • No Special Cautions

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $55 per performance



  • Time Period: 1980s
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Setting:

    A theatre in the United States.  A playing area has been created center stage by means of either a low platform or painted floor.  Upstage of it a flat back curtain of the same width, capable of being drawn open; when so revealing either the back wall or an empty space – that is to say, nothing of interest. The playing area is set for a production of Waiting for Godot.  There is a tree, with four or five leaves.  There is a low mound.  There is nothing else.  It is a stark landscape.  It is meant to represent a South African landscape.  Both the platform and the back curtain are the color of the veldt.


  • Additional Features: No intermission, Physical Comedy
  • Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes


  • Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)


5m, 1f

ROBERT OBOSA - Male, black, South African
OLIVER MANZI - Male, black, South African
JOHN TYLER - Male, white, American
TONY JONES - Male, white, American
RANDALL MOORE - Male, white, American
EMILY NGOME - Female, black, South African

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Cast Attributes

  • Role(s) for Black Actor(s)
  • Multicultural casting
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)



Bruce Bonafede

BRUCE BONAFEDE has been a produced, published playwright and a member of the Dramatists Guild for more than 30 years. Full-length plays include the award-winning Advice to the Players (Heideman Award, Humana Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, 1985; Best Short Plays 1986); the comedy The Desert of Love (staged read ...

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1984, "Shorts Festival," Actors Theatre of Louisville (one-act version)

1985, Humana Festival of New American Plays, Actors Theatre of Louisville (one-act version)

1986, Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays, Annenberg Center (90-minute version)

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