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  For script samples, click here.           Email:daz at davidzarko dot us  


Full Length Scripts  
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Youth Instructs Age


Produced by The Actors' Theatre, Santa Cruz, CA 1990 (of a much earlier version) and by The Metropolitan Playhouse of New York, 1999 (as "History Lessons" also an earlier version).

  • Cast: two men, three women
  • Set: single, with projections to open act one
  • Period: contemporary or early 1990's
  • Length: two acts (about 110 minutes not including intermission)
Rain and Revolution

A professor of history and his much younger wife verbally spar, call up memories, and have their lives changed by the amorous young couple at the next table. The play is about getting past first impressions, be they ones formed a week ago or several decades in the past, and how doing so is essential to living a connected life.

  Rain and Revolution", written by David Zarko, is an elegant and precise comedy, a script with real dialogue, real concepts and – not least – real people. “Rain" is a warm and funny play, but more than that, it is a compelling and unique look at five interesting people, both individually and collectively. Each of them has a story, but it is the combined effects of plot and dialogue that give the play its substance and results in characters who actually have something interesting to say to each other and to us.
-- Ann Bennett, Register-Pajaronian, February 22, 1990


For script samples, click here.

The Bishop Comes to Visit

Jones, an amiable scoundrel, wanders into a stodgy household while running away from the police, only to find himself believed by almost everyone to be their long-awaited relative, an Anglican Bishop from Australia.


Celebrity Madness

This play is an adaptation of the farce, What Happened to Jones by George Broadhurst. It follows the story line of the original and uses bits of Broadhurst's dialog throughout. It was developed in rehearsal with the company at The Metropolitan Playhouse of New York in 2000.


Produced by The Metropolitan Playhouse, 2000.  Go to Directing for photos and reviews. Also by Indiana Area Senior High School, 2013.

  • Cast: six men, six women
  • Set: single wing & drop or box
  • Period: a fantastical 1890's
  • Length: three acts, the first two of which can be combined (total about 100 minutes not including intermission)

David Zarko, who also directed, has adapted this 1897 three-act farce to demonstrate its original fizz while sharpening its wit with some latter-day references. The result is an endearing and very serviceable farce, one that would be a boon to amateur groups seeking such fare, and far superior to many over-performed comedies currently out there. Zarko has directed his large cast with gusto...
-- Backstage

I recently had the great privilege of directing David Zarko's farce, "The Bishop Comes To Visit", at Indiana Area High School and can proudly claim great success. The audiences thoroughly enjoyed it... As a veteran director for high school theatre, starting in the late sixties, I can honestly say this was one of my happiest experiences. As a teacher of acting... I can unequivocally state that this script offers students countless opportunities... The play is not only brilliantly fast paced and challenging in its verbal and physically demands, but also comfortably within the student range of ability and growth... I believe it is ideally suited for high school production and I most sincerely recommend it.
-- Mary Jo Bowes



For script samples, click here.

A Servant of Two Masters

A servant from Bergamo finds himself in Venice serving a woman from Turino who is pretending to be her own brother. A series of even more complicated events makes him also the servant of her lover who doesn't know she is in Venice dressed as her dead brother, whom he killed in Turino. Chaos ensues.


The Consequences of Hunger

A translation from the Venetian and Italian created for a production in California. I stuck very close to Goldoni's dialogue in most cases, while also giving the characters an American tone that places them in social classes recognizable to modern audiences.


Produced by West Valley College, Saratoga, CA, 2001 and by Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID, 2004

  • Cast: principals: six men, three women; four to six extras, probably at least one of those male
  • Set: best performed on a cleverly designed set that will allow for multiple locations without significant changes
  • Length: three acts (about 110 minutes not including intermission)
  • Period: a fantastical notion of Venice

Roles & Notes
For script samples, click here

The Romantics

The many and various loves of a diehard romantic named Anatol, who we follow from his college days to marriage (about fifteen years later), and conversations with his sardonic -- and much more grounded -- best friend, Max.


Boy Meets Girl, Many Times

Adapted with reference to seven translations of Schnitzler's play Anatol, it was created because we found none of the translations to be readily playable. The result is a new telling of the story.


Produced in a previous draft at Studio III Group, New York, NY, 1990 as "Anatol". It subsequently received staged readings in another much more advanced draft in 2005. This version is a recent re-write.

  • Cast: two principal men, one small male role (Franz), and up to seven women in supporting roles. It can be effectively cast with three men and two women.
  • Set: the play is in seven scenes, but this version allows the various locations to be depicted by a few pieces of furniture that Franz moves while describing the full setting.
  • Length: two acts (about 100 minutes not including intermission)
  • Period: turn of the 20th century Vienna

Representative Scene



The Woman

The Party machine attempts to control an "insurgent" reformer congressman by implicating him in a sexual scandal. This story never goes out of date.


Politics as Usual

An adaptation of the 1911 play by William C. DeMille (Cecil's brother), the flow of dialog, if not the wording, follows the original through much of the first act. The second act increasingly becomes my own, until the story takes a new direction entirely towards the middle of the act.


Produced by Metropolitan Playhouse of New York, New York, NY, 2001. Go to Directing for a photo and reviews.

  • Cast: nine men, two women. The story, though sensible to modern audiences, is very rooted in its time, so casting would be difficult to credibly change
  • Set: first act, Washington D.C. hotel lobby - second act, hotel room
  • Length: two acts (about 110 minutes not including intermission)
  • Period: 1912

In a year when much was mediocre, the following made memorable impressions: The Howard Carter Archeology Award for Unearthing Worthwhile Plays ... and to The  Metropolitan Playhouse for their production of "The Woman," an engaging 1911 political drama by William C. de Mille (brother of Cecil B. and father of Agnes).  Discovered on microfilm at the New York Library, it was adapted and directed by David Zarko. The two  leading female roles speak volumes about emerging feminism.
-- Backstage East, January 2002,
Year-End Bouquets By Karl Levett



A Christmas Carol

A hardened businessman is visited by spirits one Christmas Eve who take him on a journey of self-discovery.


A Wonderful Redemption

This is a "word-for-word" adaptation of the Dickens classic. The script uses all of the text that Dickens employed for his public readings, plus selected sections from the book that he left out. The narrative sections are performed, from a first person point of view, by the actor to whose character it applies. The staging needs to be fluid, and the text, musical in delivery.


Produced by The Northeast Theatre, LaPlume, PA, 2002, and by the same under the name Electric Theatre Company, Scranton, PA 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. Also as a benefit for WVIA TV & FM, 2011.
Go to Directing for a photo.

  • Cast: six men, four women, each playing multiple roles except for the actor playing Scrooge
  • Set: an open stage or a unit set
  • Length: two acts (about 120 minutes not including intermission)
  • Period: 1840's
  • Note: music by Liz Feller

This is the perfect Christmas event for any theater with a great imagination but a small budget. It can be mounted for practically nothing, and because Dickens' language is allowed to shine, not only is it more powerful than the usual treatment of the text, it is funny, ironic, witty and less sentimental, all without losing any of its appeal.
-- Me, when I was an artistic director


Representative Scenes

Buddy Truffle

A middle class family is terrorized by a religious zealot who the father of the house has invited to live with them.


The Timeless Tale of a Hypocrite

Based on Moliere's Tartuffe, the story is set in New York City during the LaGuardia administration. My reason; the distance Moliere's audience had from the commedia dell'arte roots he used to build the play, are approximately similar to our distance from the crazy family comedies of the 1930's. Although the script is mostly my own, save for a few minor reshufflings of event, it follows Moliere's story line and reflects his play in how the scenes unfold.


Produced as "Mr. Tartoof" in an earlier version at Studio III Group, New York, NY, 1991, and in its current version (though it has since been extensively revised) at Marywood University, September 2011. Go to Directing for a photo.

  • Cast: principals, four or five men, four or five women - small roles, four small roles (one of which must be a man)
  • Set: single, interior
  • Length: two acts, but it can be played as a 90 minute one-act
  • Period: Manhattan, 1939
  • Note: In the 2011 production Mrs. Parnell was played by a man, and Val , Mayor LaGuardia, and Loyal by women. The point being, with this style there is a great deal of flexibility.



For script samples, click here



Short Plays, One Acts & Long One Acts  
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When Derek asks Alan for spare change one night, it leads to a much more involved conversation than either of them intended -- and a new understanding of "the other side."


A late-night encounter on a New York street


Workshop performance at Ophelia Theatre Group, NYC in January 2015 (see details)

  • Cast: two men
  • Set: none required
  • Period: now
  • Length: about fifteen minutes

For script samples, click here

The Loyalist

The Culper Ring was a spy network ordered by General George Washington, one so secret and so tightly organized that some of its members were not identified until the 1930's. Jemmy Rivington was one of those. A mysterious man who seemed to be on both sides at once, he was flamboyant, aggressive, and irrestistably likeable. This short play explores a part of what is known (and speculated) about Jemmy's story.


A Revolutionary Mystery Play



  • Cast: four men, one woman
  • Set: two chairs and a table
  • Period: 1775-80
  • Length: about thirty minutes

For script samples, click here

A Penny Saved

Morris, a professional corporate mascot, has to train Fred, a newbee who has spent his life up until now as an Olympic gymnast and ballet dancer. It's a challenge, but one that Morris feels he can rise to.


A Ten Minute Goof



  • Cast: two men
  • Set: simple suggestion of a store front
  • Period: contemporary
  • Length: ten minutes


For script samples, click here

The Final Act

A wannabe tennis star leaves home forever, makes a promise to a desperate stranger, and opens a tennis school for at-risk children. But it takes a caring jolt to keep him there.


Ten Minute Morality Play



  • Cast: two men, three women, doubling possible
  • Set: two stools, two chairs
  • Period: contemporary
  • Length: ten minutes


First Two Scenes (of five)


An actor discovers that he has hung himself after having had his heart broken once again by his leading lady.  He and his artistic director replay the events of the actor's last night, and the dividing line between life and death, real and unreal, grows vague.


A Surrealist Experiment


Produced in an earlier version by The Fabulous Theater Co., San Francisco, CA, 1980-81.

  • Cast: two men
  • Set: single, representative of the wings of a stage
  • Period: contemporary (early century)
  • Length: about 50 minutes


The Private Life of Richard Tanu

Two partners in an ad agency riff on a commercial they have booked for software that mimics handwriting.  A short and funny musing on modern absurdities and unexpected consequences.


Ten Minute Ad Girls Play


Produced by Metropolitan Playhouse, New York, NY, 1995

  • Cast: two women
  • Set: single, simple
  • Period: contemporary
  • Length: 10 minutes


  In the mid-seventies, when my award-winning high-school Russian was still accessible -- at least for purposes of reading -- I translated and adapted five short plays by Chekhov. I've spent the ensuing 25 years re-working them as productions revealed their flaws and potential. My Russian has since all but disappeared, and I surmise that the plays have become more playable than they have become more faithful to the original Russian. But I also suspect they are now closer to the original Chekhov in spirit and in how friendly they are to actors and audience.  

The beginnings of an unlikely romance between a melodramatic widow and a desperate and maniacal creditor.


An Unromantic Love Story

This play is also known as The Bear or The Brute.


Produced by Catskill Mountain Theater, Margaretville, NY, 1989, by The Northeast Theatre, LaPlume PA, 2003, and by several community theatres and high schools.
Go to Directing for photos.

  • Cast: two men, one woman
  • Set: single interior
  • Length: about 25 minutes
  • Period: late 19th century Russia

Top of Play


A grandiose bank president, the highly staged-managed 15th year celebration of his tenure, and of how it all goes so terribly wrong.


Self-Inflicted Misery

This play is also known as The Jubilee or The Anniversary.


Produced in Griffin Conservatory, Scranton, PA 2008.

  • Cast: two men, two women with extras at the end
  • Set: single, interior
  • Length: about 20 minutes
  • Period: late 19th century Russia

Top of Play


The hapless attempts of a man nervously approaching middle age to propose to his neighbor's daughter.


A Mid Life Crisis

This play is also known as The Marriage Proposal.


Produced by Catskill Mountain Theater, Margaretville, NY, 1989, by The Northeast Theatre, LaPlume, PA 2003, and by several community theatres and high schools.
Go to Directing for photos.

  • Cast: two men, one woman
  • Set: single, interior
  • Length: about 25 minutes
  • Period: late 19th century Russia

Top of Play

After the Benefit

An old actor who has just retired finds himself alone late at night in what he believes to be an empty theatre, and muses about his life and work.


A Late Life Crisis

This play is also known as Swan Song.


Produced by The Northeast Theatre, LaPlume, PA 2003, and by several community theatres.
Go to Directing for photos.

  • Cast: two men
  • Set: single, interior
  • Length: about 20 minutes
  • Period: late 19th century Russia

Top of Play

The Harm from Smoking Tobacco

A middle-aged man who, on his wife's instructions, is to talk about the bad habit of smoking to a charitable society, instead reveals his life in all its quirky, tedious, and heartrending detail.


A Very Public Confession

This play is also known as On The Harmfulness of Tobacco.


Produced by Catskill Mountain Theater, Margaretville, NY, 1989, and by several community theatres.

  • Cast: one man
  • Set: single, simple, interior
  • Length: about 20 minutes
  • Period: late 19th century Russia

Top of Play

  Scripts in Progress (all working titles)  
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Fran and Felicity

When octogenarian Fran fractures her ankle, her friends and her son insist she find home care. Her choice is Felicity, a homeless Puerto Rican woman she takes a fancy to. The reaction is tempestuous, but Fran navigates her way with firm resolve.


A Kitchen Sink Comedy


Unproduced Work-in-Progress. The play has had several table readings and a staged reading in February 2015 at Westbeth Center in NYC.

  • Cast: two men, three woman
  • Set: single realistic interior
  • Period: 2004
  • Length: two acts (estimated 110 minutes not including intermission)


For script samples, click here.



One winter day in 1874, Joshua Norton, the self-styled Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, sees, and falls immediately in love with, Addie L. Ballou, activist, poet, Spiritualist, painter, and secretly divorced mother of four. He eventually charms her with his lunatic wit, and she is convinced to paint his first Official Imperial Portrait. His ideas for the portrait and hers, however, diverge quite severely, and when it becomes apparent that his promise of a large fee was not based on his actually having it to give her, the project seems doomed. But good hearts, with a mysterious connection, triumph, and the painting hangs today in the library of San Francisco's Society of California Pioneers



An Imperial Dream Play


Unproduced. An earlier draft was presented in a staged reading at The Metropolitan Playhouse in September 2013. Another staged reading of the rewritten play will be presented early summer 2015.

  • Cast: three men (one playing 14 roles), one woman
  • Set: single formal environment with "stuff" arranged by the actors to suggest location
  • Period: 1874-80
  • Length: two acts (estimated 100 minutes not including intermission)


For script samples, click here.



Seeking Paris

The play is set on the stoop of a Hell's Kitchen brownstone in Manhattan beginning in 1987. In the first act Dale Grant grapples with having fallen in love with Hector Brown, a complete stranger. His downstairs neighbor, Helen Colfax, counsels him and acts as occasional chaperone. The second act begins in 1990 and follows the next 18 years of what becomes a three-part friendship as they circle, intersect, diverge, follow, flee, and yearn for one another's company.


People Taking Themselves Way Too Seriously


Unproduced. Seeking to ready the script for a table reading.

  • Cast: two men, one woman
  • Set: single realistic or selectively realistic exterior
  • Period: begins in 1987, ends in 2008
  • Length: two acts (about 100 minutes not including intermission)
  • Note: LGBT themes


Urban Renewal

It's Christmas. Maureen's father is unable to communicate due to a stroke, her ex-husband wants to use their kids in his campaign for mayor, she's about to get laid off and decides the cure to all of this is a real tree and dinner at table. But when son Conor discovers that his dad wants to destroy their city's downtown, piece by piece, he takes on a cause that sends Maureen's notions of family into uncharted territory.


A Holiday Show for the Modern Family


Unproduced Work-in-Progress (on hold).

  • Cast: four men, one woman, two boys, two girls
  • Set: single realistic interior
  • Period: the present
  • Length: two acts estimated (110 minutes not including intermission)
  • Note: some music
Both of Us

In 1980 a young man spent several months in an ashram in India. When his stay was finished, he proceeded to tour Southeast Asia's gay culture with an enthusiasm equal to that he had given to exploring the inner world of meditation. He falls in love, others fall in love with him, he is cast in a movie, and sings Cole Porter. Based on the diary of a late friend.


An Indonesian Adventure


Unproduced Work-in-Progress (on hold).

  • Cast: eight principal males, eight minor male roles, one woman, one girl. Doubling possible. All but three roles are Asian.
  • Set: formal set with no determined location.
  • Period: 1980
  • Length: so far, it seems like a long one act (estimated 70 minutes not including intermission)
  • Note: LGBT themes, Cole Porter songs, Balinese dancing and music.

Jeff's nickname is "hippie" according to his boss at the auto parts store he clerks at in the tiny town of Black Bear nestled in the Pocono Mountains. Jeff protested during the war in Viet Nam, and keeps a low profile locally where he also serves as a volunteer on the EMT. But Jeff has a secret, and when his daughter is accepted to the Sorbonne, the financial challenge that results brings his secret -- and Jeff's own insecurities -- into the open. Based on the novella of the same title by Daniel Grotta.


An American Tale of Courage


Unproduced Work-in-Progress; it has had a table reading and is now being rewritten.

  • Cast: six men, three women, one boy.
  • Set: formal with three locations indicated.
  • Period: 1996
  • Length: two acts (estimated 100 minutes not including intermission)
The Husband

From an original scenario of the commedia dell'arte, true love is thwarted by misguided old fools, but a clever and romantically inclined servant helps love win in the end.


Wanton Silliness

The play alternates between scripted dialogue and detailed scenario upon which the actors improvise. A farce with some singing. 


Produced by The Post Theatre Company, Brookville, NY 1993, at American College Theatre Festival Region II, 1994 and at Hudson Guild Theater, New York, NY, 1994.

This script (with rehearsal and teaching instructions) is being revisited.

Go to Directing for a photo.

  • Cast: Six or seven men, six or seven women
  • Set: Single traditional commedia
  • Period: a fantastical sometime
  • Length: three acts with improvisational sections, and preshow and intermission activities
  • Note: music by Michael Paris


Ten Page Sample



In Plain Sight

Inspector Walter Conrad serves on Campus Security of a quiet university. His life is, in fact, quieter than he would like, his marriage is deteriorating, and his health is on the edge. Then one morning the body of a young woman is discovered in the chapel, and he is propelled into a bizarre and layered world of power, money, and academic politics.


The Facts Add up to Nothing


Unproduced, unfinished, Work-in-Progress

  • Cast: Five men, five or six women (still changing)
  • Set: formal set with representative locations
  • Period: 1990 and 1998
  • Length: probably two acts (no quess as to how long, yet)