Practice Scripts for Actors | Copyright free scripts for performance

Practice Scripts for Actors

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This page contains a selection of free, original practice scripts for actors. These scripts have been developed here at StageMilk and are designed to give you material you can use when practicing scenes with your fellow actors, or as material for a showreel or demo reel. We’ve broken down our collection into practice scripts for screen, practice scripts for theatre, and A/B scenes more useful in an educational context.

Updated 14th Nov, 2023.

Copyright-Free Scripts

Finding truly copyright-free material can be difficult, and the reason for this is fairly simple: writing is tough. It requires a lot of time, a lot of training and very few writers are willing to give their hard work away for free! Practice scenes for use in an educational context, showcase, for a showreel or an audition are still technically covered by copyright laws—you should really be paying for them, or at least seeking the permission to use them. However, as the scenes are generally not being used for direct financial gain, there is a bit of legal wiggle room when it comes to using this material.

In the future, have a think about where your scripts come from, and find ways to support and respect the artists who write them. Did you use a great scene by a playwright for that audition you nailed? Consider buying some of their work online! Do you have a favourite book of monologues or scenes you swear by for auditions? Get it as a gift for an actor friend! Our best advice is to pay it forward when you can.

From The Writer:

Hello! My name is Alexander Lee-Rekers; I’m a professional playwright and screenwriter. I hereby give my permission for you to use the scenes on this page for personal practice, as well as showreels and auditions. All I ask is that you credit my work—especially if you post it on social media. (If you’re feeling brave, you can tag me via @alexnobodyfamous so I can see what you do with it.)  Other than that: have fun, make bold choices and give ’em a go!

Practice Screen Scripts for Actors

These scripts utilise a conventional screenplay format. The thing to remember about scripts written for screen is that you often get far more visual information than their stage counterparts: action, time/scene jumps and even the types of shots to be used when filming. While all of these details are helpful when you’re analysing the script, don’t let them bog you down when it comes to practicing or shooting them. A scene set during a long car ride can probably be shot at a kitchen table without any major rewrites.

There is also no need to film multiple angles, at least when you’re developing a self-tape. You might feel the pull to cut to other angles for the complete cinematic effect, but this isn’t necessary when it’s about showcasing your work as an actor.

NB: You may notice that very few of the scripts provided on this page talk about the age or gender of the characters. This is a deliberate choice by us to get you thinking beyond how you might normally cast yourself. Naturally, it’s different in the context of a professional casting. But when you’ve got the power to pick your own role, an age or gender swap/total disregard can be a terrific challenge!


Auld Lang Syne

Genre: Comedy
Length: 2 – 3 mins
Synopsis: Two best friends debate whether or not they should kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Performance Notes: Keep this script short and light, and let the banter between the characters carry the comedy without turning them into caricatures. It’s also worth thinking over the given circumstances in a piece like this, as factors such as fatigue and level of intoxication might be important modifiers to performance. As an extension to your work in this scene, consider doing a biography of the characters and their past relationship.


The Fan

Genre: Drama
Length: 3 mins
Synopsis: An washed-up rock star, working in retail, is accosted by a pushy fan.

Performance Notes: While we’ve put this script into the “drama” genre, there’s actually quite a bit of room to move between something comedic … and something quite menacing. Consider the differences between the characters in terms of physicality and even age; ask yourself how your particular character feels about being seen and heard as the scene plays out. Finally, the ambiguity around the true identity of “Jessie” is worth playing with. Try this scene a few different ways: is The Fan correct? Are they mistaken? Does Jessie actually enjoy being recognised?


“Just A Chat, Nothing More”

Genre: Thriller
Length: 3 – 4 mins
Synopsis: A distgruntled spouse is given one last chance by their hired hitman.

Performance Notes: The thriller genre is all about information. Who has it, who wants it, who knows what (and who knows who knows what)! Don’t give yourself away as either of these characters: play with pauses, silence and body language. “Just A Chat…” is also a great scene to explore status and power. Try this scene with varying levels of status for each character; look at where, in the scene, that status shifts and why.


White Room

Genre: Comedy
Length: 4 – 5 mins
Synopsis: A couple are confused by a strange, white room in an art gallery.

Performance Notes: On the page, this scene reads short and sharp. Don’t be afraid to slow it down, and let the comedy come from the awkward pauses of each character trying their best to comprehend the situation. While this could play out with minimal staging, you might want to experiment with physicalising this scene: choreograph the blocking, and work out eye-lines to suggest the other (silent) characters that Kris and Gerry encounter.


Risk Management

Genre: Comedy/drama
Length: 3 -4 mins
Synopsis: Two shady characters debate what to do with a mysterious package left by a third associate.

Performance Notes: This is a scene that reads as quite ‘theatrical’, which is a way of saying that there is little in the way of dynamic or even physical action. Like White Room, above, resist rocketing through the banter-y dialogue of Pike and Scratch. Find the edge and the menace, and work hard with your scene partner on establishing strong given circumstances. The audience never needs to know what’s actually in the package, but your idea of its contents should be crystal clear.


Cuff-Links

Genre: Drama
Length:
3 mins
Synopsis: A cleaner is confronted by a wealthy employer over some missing cuff-links.

Performance Notes: For a piece so driven by the wants and personalities of these characters (as well as the power dynamic they share), there’s not a lot on the page to go on when bringing Deeley and The Cleaner to life. Take your time making some strong choices in this department: think about how different personalities might affect the dynamic of the scene. It’s also worth discussing the meaning of the ending: what is the significance of that final line?


Speed Trap

Genre: Comedy/Drama
Length: 2 mins
Synopsis: A low-level political operator is stopped for a traffic violation.

Performance Notes: Focus on character in this piece, especially if you’re looking to accentuate the comic elements of the scene. Power dynamics between John and Officer Hudson are worth exploring with your scene partner, along with the uncomfortable silences that are par-for-the-course with this kind of interaction. What remains unsaid? And what’s happening in those moments between lines, where so much of the action takes place?


Pictures of my Dog

Genre: Comedy
Length: 2-3 mins
Synopsis: Two friends discuss an odd encounter on a dating app.

Performance Notes: Any comedic scene like this lives or dies on how real its characters feel; the more work you do on fleshing out Ben and Vera, the more you get to push the strangeness of the story Ben relays. This scene is also a great opportunity to work on creating lasting images in the mind of your audience: how, as Ben, can you tell the details of your date to Vera in a way that will help the audience ‘see’ the action unfold in their minds. How does Ben remember it? Which details stick out with them, and why?


Shot Clock

Genre: Drama
Length: 3 mins
Synopsis: A man bails out his brother after an unfortunate run of luck.

Performance Notes: This is a relatively straightforward scene—on the page, at least. Pay attention to the relationship between the brothers, and think about the history of their interactions. Where does this bail-out sit in the timeline of bail-outs? How fed up is Kyle with his brother. Then there’s offence Ed takes in Kyle talking to his partner. Just how much does he have to worry about? Is Kyle trustworthy and honest? For that matter, is Ed? Establish the truths of this scene with your scene partner, but don’t be afraid to experiment with different circumstances to see what works best for you.


Lagoon Poolside

Genre: Drama
Length: 5 mins
Synopsis: A gossip columnist meets with an aspiring actress about a soon-to-break scandal.

Performance Notes: Actor-playing-Yasmin beware. You have some big decisions to make in regards to this character. What is her objective? Can she really be trusted? Spend plenty of time on character backstory for this piece, and solidify the events as they unfolded with the awful Trip. This piece suggests a classic Hollywood period setting; experiment with accents if you like, but don’t let the accent or the setting overwhelm the other work that needs doing. Don’t lose the nuance.

Practice Theatre Scripts for Actors

Scripts written for stage usually have less visual information than a screenplay. Usually, this is because it’s harder to control what happens during each production of a play—such as a director’s individual artistic choices, or how much budget a production will have. Pay attention to stage directions, but know that you’ll probably have to work more with the dialogue (and, therefore, the subtext) to really get to the meaning of the scene.

Just because information isn’t directly given to you, doesn’t mean it’s not important, or there to be discovered. To the best of your abilities, mine the scene for subtext and analyse the text to build a picture of the story world.


Alchemy

Genre: Drama
Length: 3 mins
Synopsis: On his first payday at a new job, Teddy makes a potentially dangerous request of his new boss Marcus.

Performance Notes: This is a script that really benefits from some close textual analysis. Analyse every sentence, every word, every punctuation mark for meaning. What can you learn about Teddy and Marcus from the way they speak—and the way they communicate with one another? Spend some time thinking about the oft-mentioned, never-seen Errol. Who is this person? The more you can make that character seem real and affecting to the people on stage, the more you’ll build out this mysterious little world…


The Cushion

Genre: Drama
Length:
4 -5 mins
Synopsis: 
Two friends discuss the details and aftermath of a shocking accident.

Performance Notes: More than any other script on this page, The Cushion is closer to a short play than it is a standalone scene. With this in mind, try to focus on the given circumstances, as well as the character biographies of all involved (especially the pivotal character of Jeffrey, who never once appears in the scene). Finally, try to resist racing towards the ‘twist’ in the scene; while it’s an important dramatic turning point, we care about the characters for who they are—rather than what they’ve done.


Trick Or Treat

Genre: Drama/Black comedy
Length: 3 – 4 mins
Synopsis: Two people at the start of a friendship/relationship/something share a beer, a cigarette, and a story about why one of their families hates Halloween.

Performance Notes: It’s not hard to pick up on the new-ness of these two characters’ relationship (the nature of which is yours to determine). Think about how you can explore the excitement of getting to know a new person, as well as the pain of sharing less positive aspects of one’s self and family history. As for Sloan’s story, this can be as funny or as devastating as you think it should be. We suggest a mix of the two.


Loch Ness Monster

Genre: Comedy/Drama
Length: 3 – 4 mins
Synopsis: A bickering newlywed couple confront their fears about each other and the future in a dingy motel room.

Performance Notes: There are a lot of emotions running high in this scene; resist the temptation to go completely over the top. The reason we like these characters is because they feel so human. Spend time working on their relationship and making this feel like a union that works—even though they express doubt as to why they’re together, you’ll need to have a firm reason in your head when you act the scene. And if you want to act this one out physically: please be careful when throwing a suitcase at your scene partner.


Some Fiction

Genre: Drama
Length: 5 – 6 mins
Synopsis: A novelist meets with their estranged parent, who was distraught to learn they’ve become a character in their child’s books.

Performance Notes: Take your time with this scene. As much is left unsaid, much is to be made of the pauses and hesitations that come from two people who aren’t gifted communicators. There’s plenty of room in the characters of August and Mason to play with their personality types, as well as the relationship they shared/share. As so much of this scene is centred around memory, it’s up to you to determine what really happened between them in the past. Was it as bad as Mason said it was? Or are they looking at history through a more critical lens? More importantly, what kind of people are they now?


Captain Oliver

Genre: Drama
Length: 4-5 mins
Synopsis: A recently separated couple discuss visitation rights.

Performance Notes: This scene almost tips over into comedy—in fact, there’s a strong argument for letting it play out as a deadpan, absurdist piece. However, the success of this story (and its ‘twist’) will come from how real these characters feel, and how carefully you can shed light on their shared history. What can you glean from their interactions, however short and distant?


Hutch & Bev

Genre: Comedy
Length: 4-5 mins
Synopsis: While fishing, Hutch accidentally reels a mermaid into the boat.

Performance Notes: This is, quite clearly, a scene that requires some stretching of the imagination. However, don’t lose focus of what makes a scene like this work: honest and truthful communication between these characters. Often, in theatre, we encounter fantastic settings or situations that couldn’t possibly be replicated on stage. The lack of a mermaid’s tail or boat shouldn’t sway you from attempting Hutch & Bev—rather, ask yourself how you can make the scene work with the resources you have.


A Mind for Strategy

Genre: Comedy/Drama
Length: 2 mins
Synopsis: Two co-workers discuss their professional qualities ahead of an important company merger.

Performance Notes: Of our theatre scenes on offer, this is easily one of the most ‘cinematic’: it lends itself well to quick rhythm and and precise delivery a la Aaron Sorkin or David Mamet. How can you bring an audience into this world? How can you make it right for the stage and not the screen (allowing it to fill a slightly heightened space)? As always, with comedy, work with making these characters feel real and justified—especially in the context of the ridiculous Eddie, who still needs to be a fleshed-out and sympathetic figure.


Distilled

Genre: Drama/Comedy
Length: 2-3 mins
Synopsis: A mother and son talk after a brush with the law.

Performance Notes: This scene suggests a rich and complex backstory between these two characters, as well as a larger world than what exists on these few pages. Sadly, this is not the case: the story of Sally and Ryan begins and ends in this scene and does not spill into some larger story. For actors, it is your job to make this scene feel like a snippet from their larger stories and arcs. What has come before? What do you think comes next? And how does this scene represent an important turning point in their relationship?


Sad In Photos

Genre: Comedy
Length: 3 mins
Synopsis: A couple on holiday discuss how they appear on camera.

Performance Notes: There’s lots to be done in the shared biography of these characters. Are they newlyweds? Are they trying to rekindle their romance? Are they truly in love, or grating on each other? Take the time to establish these facts with your scene partner, so that the resulting performance doesn’t feel to ‘surface’. As with other comedic scenes on this page, take time to play with rhythm. It’s fair to say that this scene has a slightly heightened style to it—but this should never come at the expense of truthful characterisation.

A/B Scripts for Actors

Y0u might not be familiar with A/B scenes outside of a drama class. However, when studying acting, they’re the kind of thing you become very used to working on and pulling apart within seconds. A/B scenes are short, context-less dialogues between two people—usually named “A” and “B”. They offer actors the chance to infuse text with new interpretations and meanings: use these to explore finding an objective and plotting strong actions, unencumbered by a larger story or context. Our recommendation is to be playful. Experiment with different scenarios, given circumstances and ‘moments before’ to find exciting new ways the scene might play out!


One More Thing

Genre: N/A
Length: 1 min
Synopsis: A doesn’t want B to worry about something, but they won’t get specific.


It Happened

Genre: N/A
Length: 1 min
Synopsis: A catches B up on a big development.


Do It

Genre: N/A
Length: 1 min
Synopsis: A wants B to do something. B knows they have to, but hesitates.


Turbulence

Genre: N/A
Length: 1 – 2 mins
Synopsis: A is going on a trip. B is nervous about it.


Catch Me Up

Genre: N/A
Length: 1 – 2 mins
Synopsis: A and B run into each other after a time apart.


Lost

Genre: N/A
Length: 1 min
Synopsis: A is searching for something. Be is not being helpful.


Remember

Genre: N/A
Length: 1 min
Synopsis: A wishes B to remember.


Leaving

Genre: N/A
Length: 1 min
Synopsis: A and B talk before leaving the house.


Embarrassed

Genre: N/A
Length: 1 min
Synopsis: A is embarrassed by something. B would like them to drop it.


Seat

Genre: N/A
Length: 1 min
Synopsis: A is sitting in B’s seat. How dare they.

Showreel/Demo Reel Scripts for Actors

Depending on the kind of material you’re looking for, any of the above scenes could make for some great showreel/demo reel content. We would recommend one of the shorter scenes—or something that you could start in the middle or cut off at a point that still makes sense. Ideally, clips for your reel should be running to 1:30 max. When filming any of these scenes, be sure to credit the author. If you’re looking for specialised, copyright-free scripts that suit you perfectly: why not track down a writer and commission something? A short showreel piece is usually a quick job for a professional writer in the industry. They’ll talk over content, character, length—anything you want to tailor it to your particular brand. And after you pay for it: the piece is yours forever.

Finally, your other reliable option for copyright-free showreel/demo reel scripts is to write them yourself. It might be a daunting thought to write your own material, but no other process is quite so rewarding for an actor. Just be ready for a challenge…

Additional Free Script Resources

This is one of many pages on StageMilk offering free, original scripts. Take a look at our other offerings below:

 

 

About the Author

Alexander Lee-Rekers

Alexander Lee-Rekers is a Sydney-based writer, director and educator. He graduated from NIDA in 2017 with a Masters in Writing for Performance, and his career across theatre and television has seen him tackling projects as diverse as musical theatre, Shakespeare and Disney. He is the co-founder of theatre company Ratcatch (The Van De Maar Papers, The Linden Solution) and co-director of Bondi Kids Drama, a boutique drama school offering classes to young people in the Eastern Suburbs. Alexander is drawn to themes of family, ambition, failure and legacy: how human nature can flit with ease between compassion and cruelty. He also likes Celtic fiddle, mac & cheese and cats.

2 responses to “Practice Scripts for Actors”

  1. Avatar Spurgeon says:

    Thank you so much for doing this, Alexander. I need clarification concerning showreels. Am I able to hire a director to shoot one of these scenes on location, or should I only shoot it in a self-taping studio? I appreciate your time.

    • Andrew Hearle Andrew Hearle says:

      Hey! Thank you so much and either option is valid. Many people in the industry love self-tapes and almost prefer them, but always great to have proper footage as well. Ideally I encourage actors to have great self-tape footage AND great showreel style footage.

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