10 of The Best Classic Play Adaptations for High School

Written by Elizabeth Thornton

February 17th, 2020

So, we all know how great classical plays can be. From the Greeks to Shakespeare, there are so many great plays and stories! Although we know how impactful these plays are, they can seem a little hard to grasp. And we all know how Romeo and Juliet turns out. If you want a great intro to some classical theatre, check out some of these great modern adaptations!


1. The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet by Peter Bloedel (Comedy)

This comedic take on Romeo and Juliet meets the the whimsical feel of Dr. Seuss. The play features classical characters like, of course, Romeo and Juliet, the nurse, Tybalt, and more. This Shakespeare with a twist includes new characters like Sampson and Gary. With a cast of size ranging from twelve to twenty-four, this allows for a large ensemble. This play is a great intro to Shakespearean text; the text has been adapted to fit the Seuss feel, but some of the text still features rhythm, meter, and couplets. Also, don’t fear the sad ending; this one turns out well for everyone!

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2. Much Ado High School by Lindsay Price (Comedy)

This version of Much Ado About Nothing is set in a pristine high school in modern day. The play is condensed down to a forty-five minute one act and features modern takes on some of the classical characters. The script is written in modern English, so it does not feature iambic pentameter, verse, or prose. If you want a soft intro to the world of Shakespeare or Renaissance plays!

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3. This is Hamlet by Tim Brownell (Comedy)

Hamlet gets a spin in this adaptation. This version features new characters (like Doctor Moo Moo and Squeaky) along with some from the original play. Two narrators help tell the story The script is written in modern English and turns this tragedy into a comedy. The cast size ranges from fifteen to thirty-one, and roles can easily be doubled up. This is a great and fun introduction to the Bard!

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4. Dracula by Bram Stoker, adaptation by Laramie Dean (Drama)

Laramie Dean adapts Bram Stoker’s classic novel into a 100-minute show and is divided into two 50 minute acts. This eerie tale follows the legendary Count Dracula in his quest to find blood and create more of the undead, but things get completed when a band of friends tries to destroy him. The play features a cast of thirteen; 5 males, 5 females, and three roles than can be played by anyone. The script also allows for an ensemble of monsters! The script also includes excellent tips and suggestions for technical elements and how to make them work on a high school budget.

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5. Oedi by Rich Orloff (Drama)

This show is a farcical take on the Greek tragedy of Oedipus Rex. If you know the story of Oedipus, Oedipus was separated from his parents as a baby and didn’t meet his mother again until he was older, and not knowing who his mother was, ended up marrying her and having children with her. In Oedi, the play examines that Jocasta must have looked old enough to be Oedipus’s mother. This is a great small-cast show and funny introduction to Greek theatre!

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6. Persephone Underground by Carol S. Lashof, adapted from the Persephone myth (Drama)

What would you do if your daughter ran away with the boyfriend from hell? Literally. If you are Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, you have the power to hold the whole earth hostage. One afternoon, Demeter’s daughter Persephone is gathering flowers in a field with her mortal friends when she hears an otherworldly melody emanating from a cave. That evening, returning alone to seek the source of the music, she meets a mysterious young demigod who proves to be the nameless son of Hades, the lord of the dead. Drawn to his tales of a world of endless adventures, she follows him. Meanwhile, Demeter hears rumors that her beloved daughter has been abducted by Hades. She comes in search of her and demands that she return home, now or never. But when Persephone refuses, Demeter likewise refuses to keep the seasons turning, threatening to destroy the mortal world with drought and famine…

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7. Antigone Now by Melissa Cooper, adapted from Antigone by Euripides (Drama)

In the midst of a bombed-out city still feeling the aftershocks of war, the rebellious and intense Antigone defies her uncle to bury her disgraced brother. This contemporary response to the myth of Antigone brings powerful, modern prose to an ancient and universal story.

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8. Odysseus Comes Home by Laura Lewis-Barr (Comedy)

Odysseus has been gone a while. A really long while. But as much as he wants to come home and regain his wife and his palace, showing Zeus and Poseidon that he’s a new, more humble Odysseus may just prove more difficult than slaying a palace full of suitors. With an assist from the Goddess Athena, can Odysseus show that he’s turned over a new leaf and still kill everyone who needs killing in this comic spin on The Odyssey?

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9. Elektra original by Sophocles, adaptation by Elizabeth Brendel Horn (Drama)

Following the brutal murder of her father at the hands of her mother, Elektra is trapped, in body and mind, as she yearns for revenge and contends with the voices in her head. Where is she? How did she get there? Where is her brother, Orestes? And why does the doctor who visits her seem so…familiar? Through a fusion of elevated and contemporary language—and with a Greek chorus that lends itself to movement-based storytelling—Elektra tells the ancient Greek tragedy with a dynamic and provocative examination of the mental, physical and societal barriers preventing Elektra from acting out her will.

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10. Pirates! by Jon Jory. Freely adapted from The Pirates of Penzance (Musical)

Pirates! is an adaptation of the operetta without the music. On turning 21, Frederic is released from his apprenticeship with a band of soft-hearted pirates. He hears a chorus of girls and falls instantly in love with Mabel, the daughter of Major General Stanley. The pirates enter the scene and are confronted by the major general, and when he tries to divert them with a lie, they assault his house. A melee ensues, which is quashed by a comic band of policemen. More complications abound when Frederic learns that, because he was born on Leap Day (Feb. 29), a day that occurs every four years, he has had far fewer birthdays and is still indentured to the pirates! Jon Jory’s adaptation has hilarious text and uses some of the brisk and comic song lyrics as dialogue.

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Need some advice? We’ve got you covered.

Elizabeth is a  junior at Flagler College working on earning her double-major in Theatre (B.A.) and Marketing with a double-minor in Arts Administration and Business Administration and grew up in Orlando. She is an actor, social media and marketing manager, and stage manager.
Photo Credit:
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Photo by Levi Clancy on Unsplash
Photo by Tiko Giorgadze on Unsplash