Women and War

by  Jack Hilton Cunningham

Full Length Play, Drama  /  1m, 4f

"Deeply touching and educational...this play is an emotional roller coaster. These accounts are moving...funny, exciting, humbling, and incredibly sad all at the same time." - The Easy

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    1m, 4f
  • Duration


    60 minutes (1 hour)
  • SubGenre


  • Accolades


    Not Applicable
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Pre-Teen (Age 11 - 13)
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

Through correspondence and monologues, in the style of reader’s theater, Women and War is a collection of fictional stories based on historical fact, told by generations of Americans impacted by conflict from The Great War to the War in Afghanistan. From housewife to worker, young bride to nurse, mother to widow, and now, young woman to soldier, these are tales of sacrifice, love, determination and hope told by those who bravely persevere on the home front and on the battlefield.

In Women and War, correspondence and monologues are used intermittently. The correspondence between characters places the audience in specific time frames and allows the audience a real sense of the relationships between characters. The characters are portrayed in their isolation, seeking an outlet for the expressions of their love and concern for their loved ones. Monologues are utilized to reveal what is truly going on in the mind of a character regarding the story they have to share. Correspondences and monologues are interwoven to create “through lines” of conflict, dramatic and situational irony.

While the individual stories are chronological, the entire play is not. For the purpose of comparison, suspense, and character development, lightheartedness is juxtaposed with the many obvious horrors of war. The element of relief has long been used as a theatrical convention in order to keep audiences entertained, while also addressing the need for a mental and emotional break from the severity of certain storylines.

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"Deeply touching and educational...this play is an emotional roller coaster. These accounts are moving...funny, exciting, humbling, and incredibly sad all at the same time." - Theatre Is Easy

 "Awe inspiring. Playwright Cunningham is a magician delivering the internal voices of multiple generations of women who've served as wives, nurses, sweethearts and officers spanning from WWI to Afghanistan. Women and War is essential theater. A moving and poignant scrapbook of the American war experience." - United Stages


WOMEN AND WAR: The Making of a Family Affair
by Heather E. Cunningham
December 3, 2014


Performing Groups

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


  • Caution Mild Adult Mild Adult Themes

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $90 per performance



  • Time Period: Present Day, 1970s, 1960s, 1940s / WWII, 1910s / WWI
  • Duration: 60 minutes (1 hour)
  • Setting:

    Scenic elements optional and can suggest war themes as interpreted by the producer/director.

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


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


1m, 4f

BUDDY - 20s; engaged to HELEN; WW II era; loves Helen; is proud of what he is doing for his country, as difficult as it is.
HELEN - 20s; engaged to BUDDY; WW II era; extremely young and naïve; tries to remain optimistic and enthusiastic; she still easily gets caught up in the niceties of daily life.
JOHNNY - 20s; married to AGNES; Korean conflict era; has a young son with AGNES; as Johnny begins to lose hope struggles with the realities of war; he also becomes more openly loving toward Agnes.
AGNES - 20s; married to JOHNNY; Korean conflict era; has a young son with JOHNNY.
JACK - 30s; married to BETSY; Vietnam War Era; has three sons; Jack is a pilot; extremely practical and matter-of-fact about the reality of what might happen to him during the war.
BETSY - 30s; married to JACK; Vietnam War Era; has three sons; tries to stay strong while waiting for Jack in Chicago; enjoys their boys as they mature. VIETNAM MARINE - Late teens/early 20s; he starts out upbeat, ready to fight. He loves his family, adores his mother; as the reality of the war settles in, he reveals his anger and hatred toward Vietnam.
VIETNAM NURSE - a young Catholic woman; mentally strong even in horrific circumstances.
BARBARA BERRY (Camp Follower) - married; is following her husband to his basic training assignment.
HELLO GIRL - a French Canadian woman; WWI era; works as a telephone operator; one of 223 women sent to France during WWI to work the military phones there.
GOLD STAR MOTHER - an older Jewish woman, whose three sons were lost during WWII.
MOTHERS OF...ESSIE WATERS - a pro-German, anti-Semitic American woman; WWII Era; believes that the Allied Policy is nonsense; espouses hatred toward Eleanor Roosevelt; she believes that an unconditional German surrender is un-Christian.
WWII NURSE - a young woman from a close-knit Minnesota family; WW II era; tries to stay strong as she cares for the boys wounded in action.
MOLLY (DOUGHNUT GAL) - a young woman from Ithaca NY; Red Cross Girl who drives an army truck and serves coffee and doughnuts to the army men in France and England; she loves to dance and is full of life.
MADGE MCALISTER (WESTERN UNION GIRL) - 60s - 70s; worked for Western Union in Kentucky the during WWII sending, receiving, and delivering telegrams; most notably, telegrams of regret to the devastated families of her rural town; relives her story.
SPECIALIST 4TH CLASS DELANEY - 20s; was 17 when 9/11 changed her life and made her determined to protect the US; served in Afghanistan as a non-combatant, injured by an explosion; one leg is amputated below the knee; reveals the harsh new reality for many women during war in the 21st century.

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Cast Attributes

  • Ensemble cast
  • Non-Traditional casting
  • Expandable casting
  • Flexible casting
  • Room for Extras

Casting Notes

Expandable Cast up to 4 males and 20 females.



Jack Hilton Cunningham

Jack Hilton Cunningham is a playwright and an MFA graduate in Theatre Design from Brooklyn College in 1968. He has designed scenery and costumes for opera and theatre in educational, regional, and Off- as well as Off-Off Broadway in New York City. His first play,

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WOMEN AND WAR was first produced by Retro Productions at the Spoon Theater in May of 2010. The performance was directed by Peter Zinn.  The full-length as well as the one-act, continues to be produced in high schools across the country as well in Canadsa.

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