A One Act Play by Suzan L. Zeder

Loud arguments penetrate the doors of a boy's bedroom. KidStock

Doors is a powerful one-act play about divorce. Jeff’s parents argue loudly and long behind a closed door. They do not know how much he has witnessed and internalized their words and actions. Jeff attempts several fantasies where his family is happy and loving towards one another but even these idyllic scenarios devolve into yelling and bitterness.

Eventually Jeff’s parents stop arguing behind their door and sit Jeff down to openly and honestly discuss their family’s situation.

They are going to get a divorce. Jeff has not fantasized about this outcome. He is at a loss as to what to think about such a big life change, but he takes his mother’s hand and agrees to go on a walk with her and to see his father soon.

Suzan L. Zeder’s dialogue in Doors is remarkably honest and painful. The arguments and tense situations that the characters act out are truly representative of situations a child of divorce experiences. In her production notes, Zeder cites her own real life experiences and those of friends who have been through divorce as source material for her characters, plot, and dialogue. She also encourages the actors cast as Jeff’s parents, Helen and Ben, to improvise heavily and develop the arguments that happen behind the door to their room. These disputes should be heard behind that door throughout the duration of the play.


Jeff’s room is the only setting in Doors.

The main focal point is the unrealistically large door upstage center. There must be other entrances hidden behind posters in his room and a smaller door that leads “outside” downstage left. The walls should not meet up and they should be placed at odd angles. The set should communicate the disjointed feelings that Jeff is experiencing during this difficult time.

Lights and scrims and sound cues should be used during the fantasies to indicate the kitchen, car, or hospital.

Time: The present

Cast Size: This play can accommodate 4 actors.

Male Characters: 3

Female Characters: 1

Characters that could be played by either males or females: 0


Jeff is 11 years old. He is mentally and emotionally stressed over his parents’ arguments. He is young enough not to have the words or experience to understand why his parents are acting the way they are. His confusion erupts in bouts of destruction and aggressive fantasies.

Ben is Jeff’s father. He is a busy man who has too many things on his plate. A few years ago he began building condominiums, which took up much more of his time than previous construction projects had. He feels unsupported and frustrated with the changes his family is going through. Most of all, he loves his son.

Helen is Jeff’s mother. A few years earlier, she returned to school for her degree in psychology. She came to realize that she was no longer content staying at home, so she  started searching for jobs. She feels unsupported and insulted by her husband’s words and actions. Most of all, she loves her son.

Sandy is Jeff’s best friend.

His mother has gossiped to him a little bit about Jeff’s parents, so he understands a little more than Jeff does about where Helen and Ben’s arguments might be leading. Sandy is willing to help Jeff work through his emotions, until circumstances become more destructive than he is willing to tolerate.

Content Issues: Language, punching and kicking dummies

Suzan L. Zeder specializes in writing plays with young protagonists who are going through a difficult life event. More about Zeder and her plays can be found here. Doors is available to purchase for production through Dramatic Publishing. Doors can also be found in the book, Theatre for Youth: Twelve Plays with Mature Themes, edited by Coleman A. Jennings and Gretta Berghammer.

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Your Citation
Flynn, Rosalind. ""Doors"." ThoughtCo, Sep. 1, 2016, thoughtco.com/doors-school-play-2712908. Flynn, Rosalind. (2016, September 1). "Doors". Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/doors-school-play-2712908 Flynn, Rosalind. ""Doors"." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/doors-school-play-2712908 (accessed November 19, 2017).