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Home Page of Jonathan Dorf, playwright, screenwriter, teacher and script consultant

Wow! I just realized my last update was in September! I'd say I'm way overdue for one, so here we go...and it starts with a free perusal script! There's also a potential late spring world premiere, a fresh monologue of the month (from that potential premiere play!) and a new playwriting tip as well! 

I was asked to write a short horror-comedy script for a new collection to be published this spring. What I came up with is The Midnight Club. A group of teen monsters--a zombie nerd, a rebel without a cause vampire, a werewolf jock, an overly sweet and sentimental witch and an existentially depressed ghost--are thrown together in midnight detention. It runs 10-15 minutes, with 3 females and 2 males. To get a free reading copy,
email me right away with your full name and organization. It may only be available for a few days!

It's been a busy few months, with workshop teaching stops at Thespian festivals in Arizona, Kansas and Pennsylvania, as well as at the Texas Educational Theatre Association's TheatreFest. And while there may be something in between, I've accepted an invitation to teach playwriting at the Utah Advisory Council of Theatre Teachers conference in late July. If you'd like me to come to your conference or school, I
 love doing guest artist visits, and school visits in particular are often very grantable.
Email me and let's talk! (I'm also available for virtual instruction via Skype, as well as script consulting.)  

Coming soon: Me, My Selfie and I, a new one-act play about that most essential element of teen existence: the selfie. Expect it to be in the vignette/episodic style of Dear Chuck, After Math, 4 A.M. and Thank You for Flushing My Head in the Toilet and other rarely used expressions, with a widely flexible cast. I hope to have a draft I can workshop with actors here in LA (I feed, they read) within the next two weeks, so if you're looking for a world premiere one-act for later in the spring... Preference always goes to people who can bring me in. There will be an official announcement when the script is ready, but start talking to me now...
Email me here.

I have many, many plays with flexible casts (both in terms of number and gender) that are great for schools and youth theatres. Here are some great choices to explore:

4 A.M. follows a group of teens awake at 4 A.M. as they balance their dreams and fears and collectively wonder, "Is there anybody out there?" It's both a
one-act dramedy and a full-length rock/pop musical!

The Magic Hour
is the "sequel" to 4 A.M., picking up a year after the original. It can play together with 4 A.M., or stand on its own.

Dear Chuck, my play that follows the search for "Chuck," a missing metaphorical character, while exploring the theme of teens being caught in the middle between being children and adults, has both an 80-90 minute version (which may also be cut if you need an "intermediate" running time), as well as the 30-40 minute one-act version that's been popular for competition and class-based productions. Check them out 
here (one-act) and here (full-length)!

Thank You for Flushing My Head in the Toilet and other rarely used expressions is my one-act dramedy that's been used worldwide in anti-bullying campaigns.

After Math is a one-act about a teen who disappears in the middle of math class...but is that the first time anyone ever noticed he was there? A play for anyone who's ever felt invisible.

The Locker Next 2 Mine, available in both full-length and one-act versions, shines a light on the teen suicide epidemic.

The teens of Rumors of Polar Bears are forced to grow up too fast as they try to survive in a world that's wasted its resources. Particularly strong opportunities for costume, set and lighting design. It's available in both 
full-length and one-act versions. I think the full-length is probably my most epic and ambitious play. Check it out.

 The one-act version of Rumors of Polar Bears in the Cambridge-Isanti (Cambridge, MN) production!

Harry's Hotter at Twilight also exists as both a full-length and a one-act and is my crazed mash-up parody of Harry Potter and Twilight.

High School (non) Musical is a parody of the Disney "classic."

Zombies overrun a high school production of Romeo and Juliet in the one-act comedy
Just Add Zombies.

From Shakespeare with Love?, four Shakespearean characters collide at an airport. As Romeo threatens to Shakespeare for ruining his life, it's up to the other three, from the comedies, to save the Bard in this one-act comedy.

Last but not least are two of my most underrated (but funniest, I believe) comedies:
Sweeney Todd
 meets high school in 
You Should Never Eat Your Heroes, a dark comedy with scheming cheerleaders, mysterious loners and a pair of teens just trying to survive with their dignity--and their bone structure--intact.

Run Like the Dickens (aka Tiny Tim Runs the Marathon) 
When Tiny Tim throws away his crutches and declares his intention to run the marathon, he could inspire millions--but with big business behind Oliver Twist as their inspirational figure of choice, Tiny Tim may never make it to the starting line... Click here for the
one-act, or here for the full-length!


YouthPLAYS (, the publishing company I co-founded with playwright Ed Shockley, has nearly 400 plays and musicals for young actors and audiences (including a bunch of mine), with numerous challenging and entertaining shows for high schools and middle schools, universities, community theatres and plays for adult/older actors (including professional TYA) to perform for children. There are also dozens of short plays that are ideal for forensics competitions as well as my playwriting book (Young Playwrights 101) and Matt Buchanan's awesome book on directing young people (Directing Kids). As a special gift for members of my email list, use the coupon code JONSLIST to take 20% off the purchase of any printed or digital perusal scripts through February 28!

Want to hear me talk about playwriting? I have two 90-minute webinars, recordings you can listen to on your computer, in your car, while you're out walking...and they'd also be great, creative gifts for the writers in your life...
Playwriting 101:  Everything You Need to Know to Write a Play is here:
Writing Plays for Young People: How to Write for the Biggest Market Nobody Knows About is here:

The next edition of Introduction to Playwriting, the class you can take in your pajamas (or in the bathtub if you promise not to electrocute yourself!), begins February 16! It's perfect for the writer (or teacher) who wants a thorough (and inexpensive!) grounding in playwriting on a flexible schedule. 
Click here for more info or to register!

This month, I highlight a monologue from the coming soon Me, My Selfie and I. Call it a teaser. Aaron (who could also be Aria) stands alone in the light. Bracketed text may be used if you have an Aria rather than an Aaron.


They say at the moment of your death your life flashes before your eyes. I am so getting that right now. Mostly I’m getting a lot of ice cream, but I really like ice cream and I’ve eaten a ton of it, so I’m not surprised.
But what’s weird are the flavors. I don’t do “fruit” cream. I am chocolate and friends all the way. So of course there’s strawberry and mango madness, which seems to be mango with chunks of white chocolate, which isn’t chocolate at all--it’s butterfat--which really sounds horrible when you think about it that way--
(Saying it in slow motion:)
(Back to normal:)
And either way, mango and white chocolate don’t go together. Not in my book.
Let’s back up. Do you ever have one of those days where everything is completely normal, boring--like your brain is kind of on auto-pilot it’s so been there, done that. And then boom. Your life just changed completely, and is this really happening? A second ago, it was every other day and now your brain is flipping through pictures of your mom and dad and Brianna [Brian], that girl [guy] you’re kinda dating and this random pug that you saw squeezing out some business on the sidewalk and that heinous fruit cream and you’re wondering why you didn’t take that selfie two feet farther from the edge.
And part of me’s like, “Brianna, I just fell off a cliff for you--you’d better be impressed.” But just a small part, because my brain is literally splitting into four tracks at once. Track one is screaming bleep bleep bleep, or at least that’s what it would sound like on network TV. Track two is like my parents, my little sister who’s annoying as bleep but I still love her even when she flushes my math homework down the toilet--really, she wanted to see if all paper was like toilet paper--my gramps and grams and that girl Brianna [boy Brian] that I might kinda be dating. Track three is the ice cream track. And track four is a laugh track. Seriously. Like it’s listening in on the other tracks, especially the first one--because it apparently finds that one hilarious--and laughing at all of the right moments and, well...everything. Which is getting really awkward and uncomfortable fast. And louder. A whole lot louder..

When I was in graduate school, there was great relief that we weren't going to have this particular professor, because the word was that she made all of her students turn in outlines of their one-act plays. But was that professor right?

Screenwriters tend to be fairly religious in their outlining. It's not at all uncommon for every scene to have its own notecard (or virtual notecard these days). In playwriting, however, things are not so cut and dried. Your choice depends almost entirely on what works best for you.

The big argument in favor of the outline is that it prevents you from going really, really wrong. When I was younger, I'd just write, and the problem with that is you can suddenly realize that you took a seriously wrong turn 50 pages ago, and there's nothing to do now but throw them out and go back to the crossroads where you turned left instead of right. On the other hand, the fear in outlining everything is that you'll feel locked in and lose the spontaneity and inspiration. You're writing a play, not doing a connect-the-dots. Both are valid concerns, of what do you do?

It's up to you, but my own habit is not to outline very short plays (i.e. 10-15 minutes)--I just give the characters strong needs to drive them and then let them go. When it comes to longer plays, I make not so much a detailed outline, but rather a list of major events or story beats I want to hit. For me, that helps me stay on track, but at the same time,
there's a fair amount of built-in flexibility in terms of how I get from Point A to B. And the other important thing to remind yourself is that you can always change your mind and make a different choice than you originally planned. Often scripts will change when they move from the thinking/planning phase to the writing phase, and that's completely OK.

One other thing that helps me: I'm one of those people who tends to know my ending when I start writing. It's not for everyone, but for me, knowing that allows me to "write toward the ending." It's a little like having your own personal North Star to follow--just keep chasing it, and it'll help guide you home.


That's all for now, but don't forget to visit my website for lots of play choices, and monologues and scenes that are free for use in the classroom and auditions! Take good care.

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Co-Chair of the Alliance of Los Angeles
, member of The Dramatists Guild of America, and life member of the Philadelphia Dramatists Center.

Final Draft Resident Playwriting Expert and author of

Resident Playwriting Expert of The Writers Store.

Recent News
Take My Online Playwriting Course!
Want to study playwriting from the comfort of your home, workplace or anywhere at all?  In Introduction to Playwriting, you'll get all of the basics of playwriting and be well on your way to writing a new play, but you don't even have to get out of bed if you don't want to!  Look for a new session this summer.  Get more information and enroll here:
New Play Now Available!
Read a sample of my latest play, the short comedy The Midnight Club, my teen monster-themed homage to the classic John Hughes 80s film. It's in the process of being published by Playscripts as part of a new collection, but for now, you can read the sample and contact them to get a reading copy!
Playwriting Webinars!
Now available for purchase, two great webinars from yours truly! Each is nearly 90 minutes and packed with info (with a PowerPoint too!):
Playwriting 101:  Everything You Need to Know to Write a Play
Writing Plays for Young People: How to Write for the Biggest Market Nobody Knows About

Upcoming Productions
Dear Chuck (one-act version)
Marana Unified School District #006 (Marana, AZ), June 2017
Dear Chuck (one-act version)
Dallas ISD (Dallas, TX), July 2017
Dear Chuck (one-act version)
Buckingham High School (Buckingham, VA), October 2017
After Math
Philip Barbour High School (Philippi, WV), December 2017
Dear Chuck (one-act version)
Hillard City School District (Columbus, OH), January 2018
Me, My Selfie and I: Through scenes and monologues, an exploration of the selfie: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Plays for Production
Free Monologues
Young Playwrights 101
Script Consulting
About Me
Connect With Me
Starting out as a writer? Get help by clicking here. You'll find playwriting instructional tips, links to young playwrights contests, sample query and cover letters and even a suggested reading list!
Can't figure out why your script isn't working? I can help. For a reasonable rate, I will give you detailed feedback to get your project back on track.

Click here for information.