Do you need some ideas and inspiration for an upcoming drama unit with your middle schoolers? Finding just the right play for your students to read in class can be tricky, and it depends on several different factors.
I always loved teaching the elements of drama to my 6th graders, and we’ve read a range of plays over the years. Of course, some have been bigger hits than others, but we learned from each experience and had fun along the way.
I know that teachers are often limited to the play titles their school has on hand, which is why I’ve rounded up this ultimate list of dramas for middle school ELA!
You can find free scripts online for almost all of these, and I’ve included both shorter and longer works to fit the time you’ve allotted for the unit.
You can also pair any of these middle school dramas with my Elements of Drama Bundle. This fun little unit offers a comprehensive look at dramatic elements and includes several flexible activities you can use with any play.
What to Consider When Selecting Middle School Dramas
As you’re deciding on which middle school drama to select for your class, here are a few essential factors to consider:
- Ratio of boys to girls
- Number of characters vs. Number of students
- Allotted class time to read/act out the play
- Student reading levels
- Subject matter
- Number of willing participants
- Read Aloud vs. Act Out
The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street by Rod Serling
This is one of my favorite short middle school dramas, and it’s based on an episode of The Twilight Zone that’s perfect for viewing after your class reads the script. The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street is delightfully suspenseful and creepy. The themes of mass hysteria and the power of suggestion are incredibly relevant in light of current world events.
Sorry Wrong Number by Lillian Fletcher
Lillian Fletcher’s short, suspenseful radio play tells the story of a wealthy, disabled woman who overhears a murder plot when the operator connects her to the wrong number. As events unfold, she discovers (too late) that she is the intended victim. This is great for teaching dramatic irony, character analysis, and elements of fiction.
Grab these ready-to-use lesson plans for a “Sorry, Wrong Number” home-run!
The Hitchhiker by Lillian Fletcher
The Hitchhiker is another engaging short radio play that will hook your students immediately and keep them on the edge of their seats until the very end. A man repeatedly encounters the same hitchhiker throughout his travels and eventually makes a disturbing discovery. Students will love the plot twist and how Fletcher builds anticipation for the reader.
House in Cypress Canyon by John Alsedek
When a young couple moves into a worn-down rental house in Cypress Canyon, nothing seems overly out of the ordinary. That is until they begin to see and hear horrific things they can’t explain. This story within a story works well for teaching conflict, dialogue, and plot.
12 Angry Pigs by Wade Bradford
Bradford’s short comedic parody of 12 Angry Men will simultaneously have your students laughing and learning. At the onset of the trial, the jury of 12 pigs believes that the Big Bad Wolf must surely be guilty. However, a re-examination of the evidence suggests there’s more to the story.
Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
In today’s world of social media influencers and YouTube stars, some of your middle schoolers may find themselves wishing they could trade places with their idols and live a more glamorous life. Twain’s classic tale of two characters trading lives serves as a reminder that you never truly know someone’s story until you’ve walked in their shoes.
The Marriage Proposal by Anton Chekhov
This short, one-act drama for middle school examines society’s focus on marrying for wealth and status and the often childish stubbornness of the characters. This play works well for teaching character analysis.
FartZen by D.M. Larson
It’s a seldom-disputed fact that middle schoolers love fart jokes. Well, I have to be honest here – this short play will probably have your entire class in hysterics. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Fourteen by Alice Gerstenberg
If you have a smaller class or want to have several groups of students perform different plays, Fourteen is an excellent option. This middle school drama follows the events of a woman’s dinner party and the unforeseen obstacles that arise.
12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose
If you have the time to read the entire play, I highly recommend 12 Angry Men, especially given current events. Rose’s play for middle school focuses on a jury trying to decide whether or not they’ll convict a young man accused of killing his father.
The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
Many of your students may have heard of Helen Keller, but they might not know the story of Annie Sullivan. Gibson’s drama is both inspirational and compelling, and it also tells of a time in history when people with disabilities were often mistreated and misunderstood.
Our Town by Thornton Wilder
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Thornton Wilder’s play follows the lives of ordinary people in the town of Grover’s Corners. Since the play uses very few props, it’s perfect for the classroom or other areas with limited props and space.
Fools by Neil Simon
Fools is a comedy about a town cursed with eternal stupidity and one unassuming schoolteacher’s quest to break it. Throw in a bit of romance, and you’ve got one riveting middle school drama.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
This longer comedy is another favorite of mine about a boy named Milo who travels to a magical kingdom through an enchanted tollbooth. Milo and a talking watchdog named Tock meet many peculiar characters along their journey in a place where everyone seems fascinated with words.
There are so many opportunities to have a blast while teaching a middle school drama, and I’m confident you’ll be able to find something that works in this list of engaging plays.
Do you have a favorite drama to teach? Tell me about it! Drop a comment below.