Plays written directly for virtual theatre
With virtual theatre now being an established thing that's not going to go away, playwrights have begun writing scripts directly for this new style of performing. Below are some of the licensing companies and plays gaining traction amongst groups who are producing shows virtually.
1. Playscripts - Stay-at-Home editions
From almost Day #1 of the global pandemic and lockdowns, the folks at Playscripts quickly shifted their business strategy to turn a huge number of their titles into "Stay-at-Home" versions. The playwrights of already-published works revamped the scripts to be Zoom-friendly, and are now licensing original works for virtual theatre. Whether it's a middle or high school play or one of their more mature titles you're looking for, they are the first source to go for plays specifically written for the virtual format. A few of them are:
They've also teamed with Broadway on Demand which, while not cheap, allows viewers to watch the performances on their TVs rather than computers without the annoying cables and loss of quality.
While Playscripts has reworked older plays into virtual versions, DPS, one of the leaders in licensing plays, has taken a different tack: The scripts remain the same as ever, but many have been pre-approved to be performed virtually. It's up to the director how they will be able to adapt the existing text to make sense in the new medium. A challenge, certainly, depending on the play; How, exactly, could you do All My Sons by Arthur Miller in Zoom? Some say, you shouldn't. The Laramie Project, on the other hand, which already has a presentational style, would be a smoother transition to Zoom. Nonetheless, DPS is also slowly, but steadily, growing their exclusively written-for-virtual scripts:
Waiting for the Host by Marc Palmieri -- A church group puts on a fundraiser via Zoom and holy hijinks ensue. Available in a one-act or full version, this was one of the first big titles in this genre.
Technical Difficulties: Plays for Online Theatre -- If you're looking for short plays, in the 10-20 min. range, this collection contains 10 works that you can license individually or as an entire set.
The best part about DPS, in my opinion, is that they own the rights to their scripts, which means that even if you don't see a play on the pre-approved list, they will likely grant you the rights when applying.
3. Music Theatre International
Most virtual theatre productions are plays, with an occasional cabaret thrown in, but the leader in musical theatre licensing is now releasing some of their biggest hits -- like The Little Mermaid, Children of Eden, and Godspell (many in junior versions too) -- with streaming rights. They offer additional tools to help do a musical online, too; rehearsal and performance tracks, virtual backgrounds for many of their shows, and even suggestions for how to stage a big musical online.
4. My (Virtually) Perfect Roommate by Nicky Lowney
This charming one-act comedy by Jakespeare VTC member, Nicky Lowney, centers on Amanda as she conducts virtual interviews with potential roommates the night before she moves to Boston. Hilarity ensues, and is a great piece to showcase a colorful cast of characters! Listen to Lowney talk about her experience writing, producing, and acting in this play on a recent episode of the podcast Sightlines.
These are just some of the works out there now, with more certainly coming fast and furious in the coming months and years. And, of course, you can always write your own!