Practice Scripts for Actors

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This page contains a selection of 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.

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!) None of these scenes are to be recorded, filmed, staged, re-written, developed or adapted for professional purposes. Additionally, no learning institutions may use these materials in classes, for showreel/demo reel filming or any context wherein participants pay for their use (except for the good folk here at StageMilk). Legal stuff aside: go for it! Make bold choices! Pull ’em apart 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: 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.

NB: You may notice that none 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?


Picrtures 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?

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…


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?

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!


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.

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…

 

 

 

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.

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