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One-Act and Short Plays


One-Act and Short Plays by Cynthia L. Cooper [Cindy Cooper]

A range of short plays, many award-winning; often featuring unconventional women and unconventional tales.


German writer Anna Seghers, whose books were burned by the Nazis in Berlin in 1933, is living in exile in Mexico, where her publication of a new book unveils unheard stories about the rise of fascism in Germany and becomes a bestseller that draws the attention of Hollywood screenwriter Helen Deutsch. 2 w, 15 min.


Equity Library Theater, at Manhattan W. 53 St. Library, August 2023, NYC; Women, Theatre and the Holocaust, Remember the Women Institute, April 2023, Marlene Mayerson JCC Manhattan, NYC; winner 'BEST PLAY,' Equity Library Theatre Video Online, Summer 2023. Upcoming POSTPONED: Banned Books and Burned Books Webinar, Remember the Women Institute, online.


Watch film version here.


Read more: Broadway World. Read on NPX.


A woman parses quantification and enumeration while also trying to address intimate partner violence she has experienced. 1 w. Zoom appropriate. Artists and Writers Respond to Domestic Violence, featuring Lisa Pelikan, Remember the Women Institute, 16 Days Against Gender Violence, Virtual; Pace Women's Justice Center, April 2021, A Monologue and a Chat, online; Moment Gallery, Strongin Collection, Washington DC, Dec 2021, video; Intimate Partner Violence: Art, Education and Advocacy, Roosevelt House, Remember the Women Institute, April 11, 2022; Rutgers University, Remember the Women Institute-NOW NJ, October 27, 2022. (Also a film short in development.) Read on NPX.


The owner of a small luxury goods retail establishment finds a strange customer in her shop with an even stranger request. What do you do when someone needs to come in from the dark? Single set, 2 w., 15 min. Inferno Project, New Circle Theatre Company, Chain Theater, NYC; Lunch Pail Theatre, Theater on the Lake, Yellowknife, Canada, 2014; Wings, NY, Playwrights One-Acts. Read on NPX.


A woman defense lawyer, longing for an alternative to the death penalty, turns to the victim's mother. Drama. Unit set, 2 w., 10 min. Grosse Point Theatre Take Ten Festival, Michigan, July 13-15, 2024; Winner, Summer Shorts, Theatre of Western Springs, IL; Western Connecticut State University, Dec 2020; Theater Tuscaloosa/Shelton State Community College AL March 2020; Wellsboro, PA, Warehouse Theatre, Hamilton-Gibson Productions, 2016; Matinee Theatre Players, Sand Lake Center for the Arts, Averill Park NY, 2016; Hampshire College, MA, 2014; Manchester College, IN, 2011; University of Delaware 2006; Camino Real Playhouse Show-Off 2005 Playwriting Festival, San Juan Capistrano, CA; Take Five, Kansas City; Georgia, college production, 2005; The Acting School of South Florida, Hollywood FL; Loyola University Forensics Team, 2009; Amnesty Fundraiser, Homer, Alaska, 2010; Lee Strasberg Institute, NYC, 2012; Metropolitan State University of Denver, Theatre Department, 2013; Women's Project and Productions at LaMama Galleria; Wings Theater, NY; The Artistic Home, NY; Amherst H.S., MA; University of Washington, WA; reading, Drama Book Shop, NY; Goucher College, Student One-Acts 2019; Julia's Reading Room, League of Professional Theatre Women, others; published Rowing to America and Other Short Plays from The Women's Project and Productions, Smith & Kraus. Read on NPX.


A woman sculptor interviews candidates for an unspecified job, but is only interested in a woman who can interpret poetry. Single set, 2 w, one mature; off-stage voice. 10 minute version! NEW (also 25 min. version)
Winner, Nantucket Short Play Festival; First Prize, Playwriting, Pen & Brush, NYC; Finalist, Drury One-Act Play Competition. Actors' Theatre, Nantucket (dir. Jim Patrick); Alverno College Theatre Dept., Spring Coffeehouse Theater; 'Actress in Pieces' -- Sarah Noone, Jackie Cotter, UK; Seton Hall University, PA; Pen & Brush; Jefferson Market Library; Sam Schact Studios; Circle Rep Outreach; Wings Theatre; Bard High School, NYC; Firehall Theatre, Niagara Falls, ON, Canada, 2018' Hobart and William Smith Colleges, April 2021; Julia's Reading Room, League of Professional Theatre women. '...plum stage roles'-- Boston Globe. Read on NPX


With Nazi soldiers all around, a Jewish-German underground worker summons an inner strength while awaiting a train that will take her to safety. [15 min, 2 w] Anne Frank Center USA; Resistance, Women and the Holocaust, Remember the Women Institute at the Center for Jewish History, directed by Ludovica Villar-Hauser. Recognizing Yom HaShoah with Women, Theater and Resistance to the Holocaust; Untold Stories of Jewish Women, 2018, Museum of Jewish Heritage, NYC; Published 2021 in 'She Persisted: Plays by Women Over Forty,' Applause Books/Rowman and Littlefield. Read on NPX.


A woman journalist is looking into a long-ago murder, when her subject, an older woman, turns the inquisitorial tables. Simple set; 2 w., 30 min. [AirPlay podcast and zoomcast, 2020 (on YouTube), directed by Lisa Pelikan, Women's Project, Tandem Acts at LaMama Galleria, NY; Wings Th., One-Acts, NY; New Circle Theatre Co reading 2020; New Paltz, NY: NYSSA, 2005.] Read on NPX.

HERE LIVED (Hier Wohtne)

An American woman searching for her family roots in Germany finds unexpected results from the Stolperstein project and 'remembrance' work, leading her to reexamine her 'roots,' experience the vast reach of the Holocaust, and imagine how similar remembrance work might apply to U.S. history, as well. Women, Theater and the Holocaust, Remember the Women Institute, Yom HaShoah, on Zoom. 1 w, 15-17 min. View online at the Center for Holocaust Family Research and Memorials, here. Featured Play, NPX, October 2021. Read on NPX. Watch on YouTube, a Zoom performance by Ginger Grace.


A #MeToo office is set for the first ritual to heal the workplace. Three women create a spell to clean out a negative environment. Humor. Single set, 3 w., 10 min. TAFE (Theatre Arts For Everyone). York, PA, March 3-5, 2023; Wine Box Players, online Mar 2021; Western Connecticut State University, Dec 2020; Feisty Women Festival, Riverside Goddard Center, NYC, 2018; Wings, NY One Acts; Contrast and Juxtaposition, Planet One Workshop, NY; Julia's Reading Room, League of Professional Theatre Women. Read on NPX.


African American runner Wilma Rudolph keeps her eyes on the track -- and much more. [10 min., 1 w] 365 Women-Charlotte, Prizes of Accident Theatre Company (PACT) at Upstage, Charlotte NC, March 2015; 365Women New York, April 2015, Sheen Center, Greenwich Village NY, performed by Paule Aboite, dir by Daphnie Sicre; African-American Theatre, FIT, New York.


A gay couple's relationship is challenged when they seek to order flowers to welcome their soon-to-be-adopted daughter, but encounter an unwilling florist. [40 min., 3 w, 1 optional voice (OS or on)] New Circle Theatre Company, Sandbox, directed by Lisa Pelikan, Mar 21-24 2019. Read on NPX.



Researchers try to pierce denials about sexual violence experienced by Jewish women in the Holocaust [20 min, 2 w][alt: 1 w, 3 w] Theatre, Women and the Holocaust, an event of Remember the Women at the Center for Jewish History, New York City, Spring 2016; The Actors Temple, NYC , Service and Commemoration of Kristallnacht. Mentioned in this Ms. Blog; Benefit, Remember The Women, October 2017. Untold Stories of Jewish Women, 2018, Museum of Jewish Heritage, NYC; VIOLATED Art Show, 2018, Ronald Feldman Gallery, NYC. Read on NPX.


A woman in charge of a shelter for needy women embraces hope and spirituality amid chaos. Single set, 10 min., 2 w (one off-stage). She Plays Series, 29th Street Rep, DG Foundation Music Hall presentation, 2019. (Previously called 'The Dwelling Place.') Second Prize, Pen and Brush Playwriting Contest, New York; Winner, Malibu Second International One-Act Festival [Malibu Stage Company, dir. Stuart Cooper; 'Three Women' Guild Hall, NY, Episcopal Actors' Guild, dir. Yvonne Delet, featuring Claudia Schnieder; Pen & Brush, NY; Reading: Am Renaissance Th Workshop [Hell's Kitchen Project] NY.


A Jewish woman is denied an opportunity to complete in the Olympics in Germany, 1936 (part of "How She Played the Game") [8 min. , 1 w]: The Anne Frank Center USA; The Shed, Brooklyn, featuring Stacey Linnartz; Women, Theatre and the Holocaust, Center for Jewish History, Remember the Women Institute: Review. Untold Stories of Jewish Women, 2018, Museum of Jewish History, NYC.


The father of a firefighter and a woman artist connect through art when both suffer loss. [Clark Studio Theatre at Lincoln Center, NY, Starfish Productions, "Nothing You Can Say," featuring Alison Stair Neet; Northeastern University, Student Project, April 2004.] Uni-set with varied setting; 2 m., 2 w.; 25 min.


A woman in a DNA lab becomes suspicious about the intentions of fellow workers concerning a sample from Elvis. Comic drama. Simple unit set, 1 w., 15 min. [Portage Area Community Theatre, Wisconsin; Johnson City Theatre, Tenn. in The King Was Here; Cracked Actor, United Kingdom; High School: North Platte, Nebraska; Published, Elvis Monologues, Heinemann. View monologue on Amazon.com's 'Sample Pages' [click on Elvis Monologues link.] Read on NPX.


Faced with a Catch-22 of rules, a woman in a welfare office gets lessons on how overcome the rules. Comic drama. Single set, 2 m., 2 w., 15 min. Winner, Off-Off Samuel French Broadway Short Play Festival, Double Image Theatre: Theatre Row; West Bank Cafe; Winner, One-Act Festival, Barn Theatre, NJ (featuring Jane Krajkowski); Winner, Playwriting Contest, White Bear Arts; Special Event, Canada, 2009; Art and Work Ensemble, NY; Wings, NY; Playwrights' Center, Pastiche, Mpls. "'Fox and Hounds' by Cynthia Cooper made the evening worthwhile. It works." Suzanne Simpson, critic, NJ. Also developed into short film script.


A tv reporter resorts to black humor when dealing with her own breast cancer. Flex. set; 2 w.; 10 min. Finalist, Louisville One-Act Play Festival; Cancer Survivors Day, Hope for Change Foundation, Rye Brook NY; University of Delaware; Wings Theatre (dir. Seth Gordon); Millikin College, Illinois.


Women baseball players, disguised as before-game entertainment, take over the field. Simple set, 1 w., 10 min. [Published, Baseball Monologues, Heinemann.]New Zealand, 2008.


A man proves that being a panhandler is not the only way to qualify for bumdom. Comic drama. Flexible set, 1 m., 30 min. [Lakeshore Players, MN; Playwrights' Center, MN; Hutchinson Festival of New Plays (featuring Richard Pahl), KN.]Cynthia Cooper's 'How to be a Bum' is a funny lecture on the art of panhandling. Cooper definitely has a good ear for gags.


Outside a professional women's basketball game, two gay women debate the joys and stresses of alternative relationships, that is, marriage. Comic drama. Simple staging, 2 w., 10 min. [Madison WI, Stage Q Playfest; Miami, FL. Creative Arts Enterprise/Third Annual Lavendar Footlights; Manhattan Theatre Source (Donna Jean Fogel, dir.); Richmond VA, JERA Entertainment]; New Circle Theatre Company (reading). Read on NPX.

Or In the Basement

A man and his sister-in-law, fleeing from Death Squads to a safe haven in the U.S., are visited by a man unknown to them. Political drama. Unit set, 3 m., 1 w. [Spanish/English language ability for 2 m and 1 w], 20 min. [Art & Work Ensemble, NYC; Reading, Primary Stages, Melanie Joseph, dir.]


Sheila's a chocoholic; her friends and family do their best to intervene, but Hershey's is tough competition. Light comedy. Single set, 3 w., 2 m., 15 min. [Primary Stages, One-Act Series, NY; Mitchell Community Theater, SD; Julia's Reading Room, League of Professional Theatre Women] Read on NPX.


Two women, roommates but not lovers, discover another kind of entanglement when the mother of one visits. Comic. [3w.] [WOW Cafe, NY, produced by Hear Us Out, Zenobia, dir., featuriing Connie Winston.]...comedy that takes you on a roller coaster ride of an unusual relationship, and an even more unusual date. The Villager.Finalist Out on the Edge Playwrighting Festival; planned production: Greece. Read on NPX.


~THE BRIEF: Ruth Bader Ginsburg: -- In 1972, lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg shares a legal strategy to wipe off the books laws that discriminate by sex. 1 w, 5 min. Celebrating Jewish Women and More, 14 StY, NYC, March 19, 2024, 7 pm; Put A Woman on a Pedestal, StatueFest, New Shokan Kitchen Island Project; StatueFest On Stage, PRTTheater, NYC, Fall 2021; Multicultural Center, SUNY Purchase, March 25, 2022; Online, StatueFest Four, 2021. Read on NPX.

~THE BOX -- A young Jewish girl (played by an adult) in Queens in 1948 helps her parents fill a care package for the man who hid them in Poland during the Holocaust, and now faces his own difficulties as a result. As those rescued reach back to aid their rescuer, the girl sorts through memories and finds caring amid the ugliness of the War and Holocaust. Inspired by a true story. [15 min, 1 w] May 2019: Remember the Women Institute, Women, Theatre and the Holocaust, Yom HaShoah recognition event. Read on NPX.


~PASSWORD, A Zoom Play -- Three people looking out their apartment windows in the early morning of NYC see shadowy Boogaloo boys, film them and collaborate to make it public. 3 m or w, 7 min. Western Connecticut State University, Dec 2020; New Circle Theatre Company, 7 x 7 project; Read on NPX.


~SPEAKER VIEW, A Short Play (Zoom or Live) -- For a birthday celebration, two women connect across the miles and time zones on Zoom, when one women sees danger lurking in the other's space. 2 w. 5-10 min, New Circle Theatre Company; B Street Theatre New Play Brunch, Sacramento CA; A Knock on the Door, Five Short Plays by Cindy Cooper, Julia's Reading Room at New Perspectives Theatre Company, NYC, League of Professional Theatre Women. Read on NPX.


~THE PRIZE (about Dr. Patricia E. Bath) -- A groundbreaking African-American woman ophthalmologist and inventor of laser surgery faces her toughest challenge in a reluctant patient. 1 w., 20 min. 365 Women; Queens Stem Girls, 2021; White Mouse Productions, Orlando FL, Nov 2021; We [HEART] Women Doctors, Sat Nov 12, 2 pm, Episcopal Actors Guild, 1 E. 29 St, Manhattan NYC. Read on NPX.


~THE ALCHEMY OF ZOOM, A Short Zoom Play -- Two women build a romantic relationship with poetry after a chance meeting on Zoom.  LGBTQI, women. 2 w, 5 min. 29th Street Players Collective party; The Literary Discourse Society, UK, Feb 2022. Read on NPX.


~IN-VISIBLE: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF ISABELLA GOODWIN -- New York City's first woman police detective goes undercover into the lair of a medical fraudster. Part of the 10 x 10 Project -- Ten writers on ten women in NY who should have statues. [10 min., 1 w.] East Broadway Theatre Project, Manny Cantor Center, NYC.


~STONEMAN -- Margory Stoneman Douglas, a journalist and activist, appears from the past to bolster a distraught Parkland teenager after the tragic mass shooting at the school named after Douglas. [10 min, 2 w]. Read on NPX.


~TRU LUV -- A teen's parents aren't so happy to learn of their child's love affair with a stem cell; comic. [5 min, 3 actors, gender neutral] Venus Theater, Maryland; Words of Choice, touring; Brazen Harlots Theater, Buffalo; Published: 30 Short Plays on Reproductive Freedom. Read on NPX.

~A REFUGEE LIVES TO SURVIVE -- A Congolese woman tries to rebuild her life in South Africa after suffering unspeakable violence in her homeland. Based on an interview by HIAS. [7 min. 1 w] In an Afternoon of Art and Theatre at VIOLATED!, Ronald Feldman Gallery, NYC, sponsore by Remember the Women Institute. Read on NPX.

~BEND THE ARC -- Two women in a queer relationship engage in extensive negotiations about clothing, intersectionality and cross-issue alleyship before heading to a protest; comic. [5 min, 2 w] Winner, Lez Rights: 3GT/Lez Rights, San Francisco, Portero Stage, 2017; UnAugeration, An Evening of American Playwrights, Riverside Goddard Center, 29th St Collective, 2018; Stonewall Event Reading, Michael Warren Powell Cntr, 2019; Semi Finalist: Word Power, The Avant Garage Theatre Company, LA, 2019.


~GOOD TROUBLE -- A ZOOM version of 'BEND THE ARC,' as two intrepid women prepare for a 2020 protest rife with sartorial worries.

~DISAPPEARING ACTS -- A Lebanese woman in Germany must change her life when her husband, mistakenly seized by the CIA, disappears physically and then returns a shell of himself, while American lawyer tries to get justice for them. [10 min, 2 w., 1 m.]

~HELL OF A TIME -- A stylized performance piece based on newspaper text about war and war games. 8 min., 3 m, 1w or more. [THAW: Theatre Against War, Manhattan, dir, Marcy Arlin]

~RULES OF ENGAGEMENT -- A community radio host interviews a former US soldier about saving bombed children, while heads of the military can only describe 'collateral damage.' 10 min., 1 w, 4 m.

~EXTRAPOLATION OF PASSION -- Two gay penguins split up, but a soldier finds his gay identity at the Central Park zoo. 10 min, 3 m. [Wings Theater, Instant Play.]

~EARTH MAGIC -- A circle of magic saves a tree in a national forest. Comic. Single set, 3 w., 10 min. [Primary Stages, short play series.]

~OVER THE LINE -- The only woman pitcher in pro baseball, Mamie 'Peanut' Johnson closes up a shop devoted to the Negro Leagues and shares her fastball wisdom. [1 w AA, 10 min.] The Future is Female NYC/29th St Rep; Honor Roll Playwrights, Theater for The New City

~ODE -- In a serio-comic short play, a woman refuses to hear the murder confession of a friend who accompanies her to buy an urn for her deceased husband. Single set, 2 w, 10-15 min
~THINGS WE DON'T TALK ABOUT -- Co-written with Michael angel Johnson. Two women try to sort out the complexities of race, family and personal histories. Stylized. Multiple scenes, 2 w. [one Caucasian, one African-American], 1 gender-nonspecific, multiple roles, 20 min. [Women With Bite, Director's Theatre, NY]


~FOOL ME ONCE -- A Theramin-playing woman magician is approached by a girl who wants to learn the tricks of the trade. [1 w., 7 min.] Future Is Female/MultiStage, dir Lorca Peress 




~First Prize, Playwriting, Pen & Brush:Works of Art
~Winner, Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival: Fox and Hounds
~Winner, Playwriting, White Bear Arts Council, MN: Fox and Hounds
~First Prize, Playwriting, Barn Theatre, NJ: Fox and Hounds
~Winner, Malibu's Second International Festival of One-Act Plays:Dwelling
~Winner, Nantucket Short Play Festival: Works of Art
~Winner, Camino Real Playhouse Show-Off! International Short Play Contest: Sentences and Words
~Winner, Theatre of Western Springs, IL, Summer Shorts: Sentences and Words
~Winner, New Works, 3GT/Lez Writes, San Franciscio: Bend the Arc

~Best Play, Equity Library Theatre: The Match
~Second Prize, Pen and Brush Playwriting Contest, New York: Dwelling
~Runner-up, Drury One-Act Contest: Works of Art
~Finalist, Louisville One-Act Contest: Mountain
~Finalist, Out on the Edge Playwrights Festival:A Date At Last

~Semi-Finalist, Avante Garage, LA: Bend the Arc


Cynthia L. Cooper -
446 W. 47th St. -
No.1B -
New York, NY 10036 --



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