Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight. Stressed by Alan Haehnel is a symphony of sound and character that is a true theatrical experience. A challenging but incredibly fun piece, this vivid character play is an excellent competition piece.
For Alex, it’s school. For Josh, it’s his girlfriend. For Carmen, it’s dealing with her coach. And Mindy’s frustrated with her parents. Stress is driving this quartet crazy – so much so they can’t stop talking about it.
Why did we publish this play?
Alan describes Stressed as a Teen Symphony. I love this description and it’s so accurate! Characters blend and crash, emotions swell like strings. It’s a fantastic piece to teach students not only how to create a character but how to listen to each other. Add to that, the structure is monologue-based, so you’re also teaching students the craft of preparing multiple monologues. This play has gone on to great success in competitions and I’m thrilled we were able to publish it.
Why is this play great for online platforms?
This play is written in monologue format, and each character is in their own space – so it easily transfers to an online format. There is some unison speaking and some sound exploration under text, so that will take some creative thinking and problem solving. But if there’s anyone who can do it, it’s drama teachers and students!
1. Why did you write this play?
Because stress has been increasing lately for everyone, and I wanted to give students a humorous way to express their feelings about it.
2. Decribe the theme in one or two sentences.
Well, the theme is in the title. But an important sub-theme is that we are all in this stress-filled world together.
3. What’s the most important visual for you in this play?
This is more an exploration of rhythm and vocal variety than it is a visual play, but I think a creative director could have a lot of fun with costuming and lighting to enhance the different characters and the quick pace of the piece.
4. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?
Remember the sub-title of the play: “A Teen Symphony.” The vocal work has to be tight and musical. The voices should truly interplay like instruments in a quartet.
5. Why is this play great for student performers?
Besides relatable subject matter, this play gives four student performers a ton of juicy lines, lots of stage time, a full range of emotional states, and great chance to put together a tour de force entry for any drama contest.