71 pages 2 hours read

Joseph Kesselring

Arsenic and Old Lace

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1941

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Use this activity to engage all types of learners, while requiring that they refer to and incorporate details from the text over the course of the activity.

“Dark Comedy Play”

In this activity, students create a short script that reflects the subgenre of dark comedy.

With instructor approval, select a topic that is either slightly unpleasant or leans toward “taboo” in the community or culture at large. Create a dark comedy around the topic in the form of a brief script to entertain or illustrate a point. Use literary elements evident in Arsenic and Old Lace in your dark comedy. 

Share your short play with peers either by presenting a recording of your play or reading the script aloud in class. Then, compose a reflection that draws parallels between Arsenic and Old Lace and your own dark comedy. Use the points below to guide your thinking:

  • What is the topic of your play?
  • What is the purpose of treating that topic in a play for public viewing?
  • What connections will you draw to Arsenic and Old Lace?

Teaching Suggestion: Consider providing students with background on playwriting by using the link here. Students may benefit by having a page or word limit for their play script.