Brian E Turner

Brian E Turner
Brian E. Turner started writing in 1978 and is a prolific and successful playwright. His plays often deal with unusual aspects of life and consciousness, and present interesting challenges for producers and casts. A number of his plays have been produced at Stagecraft Theatre, wellington, but have also won prizes at Theatre Federation Festivals.
He has his own website, where additional information about his work appears, and where he may be contacted for rights and royalties.
7 Atkinson Avenue , Otaki , New Zealand .
(please include SAE).


Bad Night at the Mex

by Brian E Turner

One-act play of approximately 30 minutes. Concerns the attitude of society towards the mentally ill and is a description of the mental state called schizophrenia.

Characters: 3 m., 2f, (includes “voices”). The voices should appear in the programme as ‘Male voices’ and ‘Female Voices’.
All that is needed for the set is a small table and three chairs. Hand props are menus, a jug of warer, and glasses. There should be significant lighting changes and sound effects to differentiate between the two sets of reality. The backdrop should preferably be black, but the costumes should stand out against it.
First presented by Wellington Repertory Theatre in 1995, directed by Ann Elliot Smith.



by Brian E Turner

Performed: Bats Theatre, Wellington, 1982
Type of play: One act social comment drama
Playing time: 25-30 mins

Characters : 3 f, 2m : Chrissy, a pretty young lady; Lady, a middle-aged housewife; Man, her husband; John, a young hoon; Nurse, any age.

Set and Sound: There are four areas. Photographic realism is not required.. 1) A Drawing Room. Stage right (or left). Table, three chairs, tea service. 2) A Car. Centre upstage. A car seat. 3) Free area. Centre downstage. 4) Hospital. Stage left (or right). White cabinet, glass of water, bottle of pills.  Sound: Thunder at start, then sound of rain throughout. Car noises are not required.

Synopsis: Scene one is in the present. Chrissy is out from a mental hospital for a rainy afternoon in the company of a couple of do-gooders. Scene two is a flashback to a scene in a hot-rod with John, Chrissy’s hoon husband to be, where she tells him she is pregnant. Scene three occurs in a hospital where the Nurse tells Chrissy that her baby has died. Scene four returns to the present where each of the four antagonists to Chrissy express their attitude towards her.



by Brian E Turner

Romantic Comedy. Three-act play, but Act I can be presented as a one-act, running approximately 30 a three act play concerning romantic love between an older man and a younger woman. Act 1 is complete within itself and can be presented as a one act, running about 25 to 30 minutes. It is basically a realistic play, however the dream sequences utilise special effects.

Characters : im., 1f, plus one female child and one dream figure, male. Both these can be played by the other two actors.

The play is set in Wellington, New Zealand, however the director could set it in any city if the locations can be simulated. The set should be kept simple. The scene and mood changes can be indicated by a lighting plot which provides cross fades, and should avoid black-outs. It is not necessary to restrict the various locations to specific areas of the stage. For the dream sequences, a single spot for each actor with a suitable “dream” colour could be utilised. Music accompaniment is the piano version of the ‘Gymnopedies’ by Erik Satie. No 1 for Act 1, No 2 for Act 2, No 3 for Act 3.

Synopsis: In Act 1, Kate goes to Thomas’s second hand bookshop seeking an old book to use in a school play. There is an immediate attraction between them. At home Kate daydreams about her father who abandoned her as a child and Thomas dreams about the child he abandoned in England when studying at Cambridge. Kate returns to the shop and invites Thomas to a soirée. At the soirée Thomas is about to ask Kate out for a date when a young man enters who he mistakenly thinks is Kate’s lover.

Act 1 was first produced by Stagecraft Theatre in 1990. The complete play was first produced by Stagecraft Theatre in 1991, directed by Sambrene Chandler.



by Brian E Turner

A one-act play in a partly fantasy, partly historico-philosophical style. Duration is about 30 minutes, but it is related to other plays by the same author, namely “Peace”, “Magpies” and “Clownes” and all four could be produced together for a full-length evenings.

Characters: 1 m, 1f. The set can consist of a simple set of black drapes, with two sitting appurtenances painted black. Spotlights and cross fades are used during the play. Elaborate costumes are required, to contrast with the simplicity of the set. Masks, one red, one black, may also be used.

Synopsis : The play consists of nine short scenes representing an evolution. Each scene is separated by a short narrative description of the state of the universe at the time of the scene. These scenes are then enfolded within another short play which has an independent existence as a short piece entitled “We’re Here” which is broken into two pieces in this play, called the “Parados” and the “Exodos”.

Each scene requires a different acting style, although the characters are still the same ‘people throughout. Each scene bears a relationship to one of a series of paintings which are described in the play “Magpies”, to which this play is related.

The play was first produced by Stagecraft Theatre in 1994, directed by Ann Elliot Smith.

Performed by Faces Theatre Group, Malta, 2005.


Hall of Mirrors

by Brian E Turner

Consists of two longish one act plays and eight sketches designed to be performed together or separately.

Set A restaurant/picture gallery where the exhibition consists of two full length mirrors covered with curtains. (The mirrors are just frames in fact and have real people appearing in them.).

Characters: A young couple, a middle aged couple and a waiter or waitress.

Plot: Play 1 concerns a relationship between a courtesan and a Priest.

Play 2 concerns a relationship between a young couple. It has problems which are resolved by magic and Commedia Dell ‘Arte acting. The sketches are a variety of styles and plots.

Play 1 was first produced by Stagecraft in 1998. Plays 1 and 2 by Montage Showcase, North CarolinaUSA in 2001. Three of the sketches were produced by Otaki players in 2006.


Her Selenic Majesty

by Brian E Turner

A realistic one-act comedy for one female, one male. About 20 minutes durationThe set represents a living area in a reasonably affluent area.

Synopsis: ‘Her Selenic Majesty’ is a poetic name for the moon, a symbol of secrets. Pam and Sam have been living together. Sam has a den in the house that Pam is not allowed into. Sam asks Pam to marry him, but she refuses because of the memory of her late husband, a profligate and unfaithful poet. Pam sneaks the key to the den and goes into it when Sam is not looking. When she returns it is revealed that Sam has been writing poetry in the den. Sam offers to help her pack because he believes she will not wish to live with another poet, but Pam asks Sam to marry her.

First presented by Stagecraft Theatre in 1994.



by Brian E Turner

Performed: Stagecraft, Wellington 1995, Playbox Theatre – Norfolk Island 2005.

One act absurdist Grand Guigol

Playing time: 25 minutes

Characters : 2f, 1m or 3f : Bertha:Deprived. – Rose: Bertha’s caregiver. Depraved. – Pottz: Old and cracked and may be Mrs Pottz.

Set: It is a faded Edwardian lounge, cluttered, dingy and threadbare. There is an old high-backed easy chair upon which Bertha sits throughout. A small occasional table. A small seat or cottage chair which may be used by the other actors if desired. This is all the set that is required, (I am a minimalist as far as sets are concerned), however any other setting will do. There are no lighting changes. Introductory music is not necessary. The production should centre on the performance of the actors.

Bertha knitting. Rose enters and announces she is going on holiday – exits. Pottz enters to borrow sugar. Rose brings Bertha’s breakfast on a covered platter. Pottz comes and goes mouthing repetitive absurdities. Rose wishes to punish Bertha for revealing their lesbian relationship. Bertha and Pottz have hatched a plot to get a door key cut and order meals on wheels when Rose has gone. Rose goes saying she is going forever and locks the door however Pottz has forgotten to get the key cut. Bertha lifts the lid from the plate to reveal a dead mouse.



by Brian E Turner

Performed Stagecraft 1990 and Theatre Federation Festival where it won first prize in two divisions.

One act drama 35 minutes.

Set: There are five scenes in different locations. The set appurtenances should be as simple as possible, possibly just a couple of boxes painted black and a small card table.


BRIONY: A female aged from 25 to 40.

DAN: A male of matching age.

Plot: A couple meet, have a relationship and part.

Scene 1. They meet at the opening of an exhibition of paintings.

Scene 2: They have a rendezvous at a fashionable restaurant.

Scene 3: The post-coital scene; the morning after the first time.

Scene 4: At the interval of a concert.

Scene 5. The final argument and parting.



by Brian E Turner

Performed: Stagecraft, Wellington 1995.

Type of play: One act drama.

Playing time: 15-20 minutes

Characters : 2m

Norman Casually dresssed.

Alun In a business suit.

Set: It is an alfresco scene. Sounds of children playing not too far away. The weather is clear and quite warm…

Synopsis: Two chaps talking about their relationship and the meaning of love. It is important that neither actor portray over the top gay mannerisms.



by Brian E Turner

Performed Stagecraft 1992, Corner Theatre 1993 and Theatre Federation Festival

One act slice of life 20 minutes.

SET: A lounge or other suitable location. A minimum set would be two sitting appurtenances, one for each character.

Characters: DON: Husband of Jan.
JAN: Wife of Don.

Synopsis: A happily married couple sit in their lounge at night looking at the stars and talking about their life. Nothing much happens.


The Carousel

by Brian E Turner

A one act irreal comedy about 35 minutes (act 1 of a work in progress.)
Set The stage is bare apart from an old and battered carousel horse lying on its side and a sitting appurtenance. There may (or may not) be debris on the stage, such as is discarded by people attending a carnival.

Characters: BONNO: A circus clown.
A cultured beggar, wino and philosopher.
A woman of pleasure. THE DOLL: A marionette.

Plot: It is evening and the carnival has just departed leaving Bonno behind. The characters arrive one by one wishing to join the carnival but too late to do so. There are speeches and mimes. As morning comes the carnival is heard returning however all characters except Bonno find an excuse to leave before it arrives.

Won second prize in the comedy section of the 2008 PANZ one act play competition.


The Potter

by Brian E Turner

Performed by the Kapiti Playhouse junior drama class 1994.

A one act play for children based on a Russian folk tale from the collection of Aleksandr Afanas’ev.

Cast: A potter, Tsar Ivan the Terrible, Baron Borovitch, the Baron’s servant, a herald, the Tsar’s wife (Tsarina), a serving maid, a butler, a cook, musicians, dancers.

Synopsis: How the potter fools the Baron and makes a profit.


Those Who Pour Wine into the Earth

by Brian E Turner

Performed Stagecraft 1993 and Theatre Federation Festival

One act drama of about 45 minutes duration.

SET: The play is set in an undecorated room. Initially the set is bare but after the initial mime two plain easy-chairs and a small coffee table are placed on stage. There are two ornate chairs, such as one might find in a box at the opera. It is permissible to present the play in blacks with just the stage furniture.

ARTHUR: Aged about 60 in the opening scene.A retired businessman.
CYNTHIA:Arthur’s wife.
GEORGE: . Son of Cynthia and Arthur.
ELLIE: Elder sister of George.
ELEKTRA: Chorus.
ORESTES: Chorus.

Synopsis: The play is a version of the Elektra theme. Each of the three antique Greek tragedians wrote a play on this idea and modern writers (O’Neil, Elliot etc) have also written versions. The title is a free translation of Aeschylus’s title (“Khoephori”). Material has been taken from Greek plays – the “Elektra” of Euripides and Sophokles, the “Iphigenia at Aulis” by Euripides and the “Agamemnon” and “Khoephori” by Aeskhylus. The Christian logos has also been incorporated as it is appropriate to the theme.


Hamilton Playbox at the Upper North Island Regional Theatrefest, Hamilton, August 26, 2017


Two of a Kind

10-minute play

Two women meet and have a conversation that is open to interpretation.

First performed: Prizewinners, Oamaru Repertory Society, August 2016

Finalist: PANZ 10-Minute Play Competition, 2016