Thespis by Phil Darg


We all know the story of how drama was invented: during a performance of an ancient Greek chorus, one of the chorus members - Thespis - "stepped away" from the onstage chorus and engaged in dialogue for the first time. The art of theatre was thus born!

But who was Thespis? And why did he "act out" in this manner? What was occurring at that time both in his own life - and in Athens - that would impel him to behave this way? And, what was the true character of Thespis himself?

The humorous one-act drama Thespis answers these questions and more, using the setting of ancient Athens and the role of the Greek chorus to comment on the nature of human aspiration and the expressiveness of art.

Thespis was a semi-finalist for the 2018 Windsor Fringe/Kenneth Branagh New Drama Writing Award, and was the third place finalist for the 2019 Tennessee Williams One-Act Play Contest.

In 2019, Thespis was performed by the Lyndon Institute and took first place at the Vermont Regional Drama Festival. In 2020, Thespis was performed by Chopticon High School and won "Best Ensemble" in the Maryland state one-act competition.

Running time: about 50 minutes (a shorter version of about 30 minutes is also included below)

Characters: 4 main speaking roles (2 M, 1 F, 1 N); plus an expandable "chorus" of both male and female roles; 4 characters minimum, expandable up to 8 (or more).

Subject matter: appropriate for general audiences (no violence, profanity, or lewd references).

Note: by word count, the full version has a running time of about 50 minutes, while the shorter version has a running time of about 30 minutes.

Performance rights for Thespis are available for FREE to qualified educational institutions for a limited time. To obtain these free performance rights, simply send an e-mail to Phil Darg at:

The only significant restriction is that - at this time - the piece cannot be performed in Manhattan (borough of New York City).

Thespis © 2017 by Phil Darg, all rights reserved.

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