10 characters. 3F; 2M; 5 Either; Flexible casting; 14 pages in length. Approximately 15 minutes running time. A melodrama for teens (with classroom materials) written by August Mergelman. (3 Credits)

Lady Scottish Play is a fabulous melodrama for teens! Edwina Woods may be the most belovèd actress of the American stage, but the greatest actress of the French stage, Bernadette Sardou, has a pesky way of stealing her audiences. What’s more, Madame Sarduo’s leading actor, the nefarious Irving Booth, has a pesky way of harassing the sweet ingénue, Nina Adams, whose heart clearly belongs to Drew, Edwina’s dashing son. When Booth threatens to blackmail the rival company, one of his poison-pen letters cannot be accounted for; its discovery could cause an uproar in the world of the American theatre. This wonderful play also includes added materials including improvisation and acting exercises, a project for students and questions for discussion and research. You can find these other fantastic plays by August Mergelman in our Script Library: Spider Besider, Fancy Nancy & the Ants, Persephone, The Magpies, By Jove, A Merry Interlude at Camelot, Mum’s the Word, The Vixen, Couth, Pantalone’s New Pantalones, The Honest Impostor, The Weaver Girl & the Cowherd, The Dragon & the Pearl, Polly Peachum & the Pirates, Penny from Heaven, The Cat Noir, Trade Trade Secrets, Jackie & the Beans Talk, North Paws.

As a playwright, August Mergelman has one simple goal: to bring classical works to the modern audience. It seems that so many of the world’s great dramas are obscured by their own magnitude. August does not believe that any of history’s great playwrights would truly want their works to be intimidating or bewildering. First and foremost, they were showman; they crafted their works to be engaging, challenging, and most importantly, entertaining. As a fourth-generation Colorado native, August is proud of his western heritage, which is manifest in several of his western settings. His works have been featured in the Playwrights’ Showcase of the Western Region and the Rocky Mountain Theatre Association’s Playwrighting Competition.

Excerpt from the play:

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Nina Adams — an ingénue
Irving Booth — a scheming manager
Edwina Woods — the most beloved actress of the American stage
Drew Woods — her son, also an actor
First Reporter — a well-seasoned journalist
Second Reporter — a less-seasoned journalist
First Fan — an unsophisticated fan
Second Fan — a less-sophisticated fan
Third Fan — the least-sophisticated fan
Bernadette Sardou — the greatest actress of the French stage

(The action takes place in a dark theatre in a large American city.)

(Holding her overcoat, Nina enters left onto an empty stage. The ghost light is on.)

Nina
Enter Juliet, who peers longingly over her balcony.

(A cue card reads “Ooh, Ahh!” The ghost light flickers twice.)

Nina
Twice. That’s a bad omen. (Whistling quietly, she begins to leave.)

Irving
(Appears in the orchestra pit or on the apron.) Tsk, tsk, Miss Adams… Whistling in the dark is one thing, but whistling in a darkened theatre is quite another. Bad luck, you know.

Nina
Oh, Mr. Booth. I might have known I’d run into you, lurking in the shadows.

(A cue card reads “Boo, Hiss!”)

Irving
(Joins Nina onstage.) Where can the dashing Mr. Woods be?

Nina
He and his mother were detained at the train station. A sizeable crowd had gathered around them.

Irving
Were they performing for tips? How resourceful of them.

Nina
Signing autographs.

Irving
Shameful. You’re the real talent. It should be you whose autograph they seek.

Nina
So you’ve told me.

Irving
And I would like to elaborate, over dinner tonight.

Nina
And I would like to reiterate what I told you in Baltimore, Richmond, and Jackson Hole—no, thank you, no, and never.

Irving
Hmmm. Your loss, I’m afraid.

(A cue card reads “Boo, Hiss!”)

Nina
And I’m afraid we must part. I’ve decided to wait for my companions outside.

Irving
Then let me help you with your overcoat.

(He steals one of her gloves while taking the liberty of helping with her overcoat. A cue card reads “Boo, Hiss!”)

Nina
I’m perfectly capable of putting on my own overcoat.

Irving
Don’t you think you deserve a man of monetary means?

(He wraps Nina in her overcoat. His hands linger on her shoulders.)

Nina
Mr. Booth, I will thank you for removing your hands from my shoulders.

Irving
Now, now, Miss Adams, let’s not be unkind to one another.

(A cue card reads “Boo, Hiss!”)

Drew
(From off left.) You heard the lady! Unhand her.

(Enters left and quickly separates Irving from Nina. A cue card reads “Hooray!”)

Irving
Ah, Mr. Woods. There’s no need to be uncivilized.

Nina
Not anymore. Mr. Booth was just leaving.

Drew
What was he doing here in the first place?

Irving
Oh, perhaps you’ll find out, in time.

(A cue card reads “Boo, Hiss!” Irving exits left.)

Edwina
(Enters left.) What did he want?

Nina
Oh, never mind him. I trust you’ve escaped your throng of adoring fans?

Edwina
Finally.

(Fans and Reporters enter left.)

Third Fan
Oh, there she is.

Edwina
Drat. I should have knocked on wood. How many are there this time?

Drew
One, two, three, four, and five.

First Reporter
Actually, we’re journalists. Four and five.

Drew
Oh, the press, too, this time. Why do they always arrive after the adoring fans?

First Reporter
Are you kidding? We follow the fans. They always lead us right to the actors. Would you mind answering a few questions?

Edwina
Would it matter if I said no?

Second Reporter
Is it true that tomorrow evening you’ll be playing the part of Lady Mac—?

(Drew quickly covers the Second Reporter’s mouth.)

Second Fan
Whew. That was close!

Second Reporter
Hey. What’s the big idea?

First Fan
What’s the big idea in saying the name of the Scottish play in a theatre? Don’t you know it’s bad luck?

Second Reporter
Mac—?

(Again, Drew quickly covers the Second Reporter’s mouth.)

Edwina
Ah, ah, ah.

Second Reporter
But… how can you perform the play without saying Mac— (Catches himself.) —the “M” word?

Edwina
When one performs the Scottish play, one can say the “M” word, but only then. Theatre superstition.

Second Fan
You wouldn’t dare doubt the word of Mrs. Woods. We’re her most devoted fans, and she’s the greatest actress of the American stage.

Bernadette
(Enters left.) Mesdames et Messieurs de l’ensemble, bon après-midi.

Third Fan
I’d know that voice anywhere. It’s Madame Bernadette Sardou.

(Fans and Reporters surround Bernadette. Irving sneaks back in left.)

Bernadette
Mes amis, mes amis. Though I find your attention flattering, I am here to pay a visit to my dear friend, Madame Woods.

Edwina
Good afternoon, Madame Sardou. It seems our paths have crossed again.

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