girl with typewriter

Required Textbooks – A Tragedy in Four Acts


Opening: Tara sits alone onstage holding a laptop. She is typing furiously. A single lamp is set center stage beside the chair where she sits. There are no other props. Low white and blue lighting, ominous music.

Tara: Who wants to read a book called Ten Things Every College Student Needs to Learn, anyway?I’m married. I already have an associates degree. This whole required textbook thing is ridiculous.

Enter Collin.

Collin: Hey, you’ve been on your computer forever. Are you done yet?

Tara: Mutters incoherently.

Collin: You seem pretty stressed out. What are you working on?

Tara: Slams laptop shut and bangs fist on the ground. I’m trying to order my required textbook!

Collin: Wait, you have a…REQUIRED TEXTBOOK? Oh NO.

Tara begins to weep. Collin moves toward her slowly.

Tara: I thought I wouldn’t need to order it. I didn’t think we would actually use it in class. I waited, and now I’ve been failing the quizzes because the professor actually expects us to read it! I don’t know what to do!

Collin: Putting arm around her shoulder. Why don’t you just get one from the bookstore?

Tara: Are you kidding me? Too –

Together: Expensive.


Curtain opens to reveal Tara pacing onstage.

Collin: Runs in, excited. Look! Look! It finally came!

Tara: That really cheap textbook I ordered four weeks ago?

Collin: Yeah! We didn’t think it would ever get here! I’m opening it right now. Rips open package.

Tara: Leaning over his shoulder. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Collin: What? What’s wrong?

Tara: Weakly. Wrong….

Together: Edition.

Both fall to the ground.


Tara marches in to where Collin is sitting onstage, reading.

Collin: What’s up?

Tara: Okay, I know this isn’t usually a good idea, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Collin: Is this about the book?

Tara: My life is about the book at this point. I found a free PDF.

Collin: Better make sure it’s not carrying a virus…

Tara: Umm, how do I do that? I already downloaded it.

Collin: WHAT? Show me.

Tara hands over the computer.

Collin: Clicks around a few times. Tara, everything is frozen up on here. Your computer isn’t working properly.

Tara: It was working just fine before I downloaded the…oh NO. Runs out of room.

Collin: Shrugs, picks up book again.


Collin is reading onstage again.

Tara: Enters with book under her arm. Well, I finally bit the bullet and bought the super expensive copy from the bookstore. I’ll be in debt for another couple years but at least I won’t be failing the quizzes anymore. By the way, what’s that book you’ve been reading all the time?

Collin: Oh, it’s a book I have to read for class: Ten Things a College Student Needs to Learn.

Tara: Shrieks. What? That’s the book I’ve been looking for the whole time! We could have been sharing it!

Collin: I’m so sorry, I forgot that we’re in different sections of the same class. Tara? I don’t really know how to tell you this…

Tara: What?

Collin: Professor Smith just sent out an email…he said we will be finishing the book this week and moving on to the other required textbook.

Tara: Moans. Lights dim as she chases Collin offstage. Collin: Muffled, backstage. Hey, it’s not my fault!