Rogues & Vagabonds — the Stageplay

Rogues & Vagabonds

Rogues & Vagabonds is an exuberant blend of Shakespeare in Love and The Painting of Romeo & Juliet Balcony Scene Breakfast Club. The full-length, 3-act, stageplay takes place in Civil War-torn, 1642 London, backstage at the fictional theatre, the Merrie Fool. The young adult cast consists of four strong-willed young women, ages 15-17, and three spirited young men, 16-17, all of whom are approaching adulthood hell-bent on personal triumphs, unaware of the private and political obstacles heading their way.

The Characters

In pre-Restoration England, both theatrical tradition and the statutes of law forbid women from the English stage, much to the chagrin of stage-struck Ellen Stirling, a fiery Tinted wood cut of actress in 17th Century gownyoung woman who has grown up backstage with her famous father and now her arrogant, less-capable twin brother, Ned Stirling, who is set to make his stage debut and is in love with Ellen’s best friend, Meg Wyatt, who desperately wants to be a playwright as beloved and prolific as her father–a blasphemous ambition for a woman. Philip Somerton, Ellen’s dearest love, plans to leave his Oxford college with his father, the Earl of Leighton, to join King Charles’ army in its fight against a parliament in open rebellion.  Julia Wharton is forced to disguise herself as a boy to help her infirm father hold onto his stage-keeper job by creating his stage effects for him, forever fearful her secret will be discovered, landing them both in the streets of London. Alec Barlow is a multi-talented young actor, singer, juggler, jig-dancer, comedian, best friend to Ned and enamored of Ellen.B/W Line Drawing Cartoon of A Puritan Woman and Man All hell breaks loose when Charity Browne, a determinedly pious young Puritan, is thrust into their midst at a time when tragedy strikes and everyone must take sides.

The Action

Full-length painting of English King Charles I
King Charles I.
Oval portrait of Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell

It’s 1642, the eve of the English Civil War: and as the story opens the Puritan Parliament officially denounces stageplays as ‘… spectacles of lascivious Mirth and Levity,’ closes down the theatres, and condemns actors as ‘rogues and vagabonds.’ Though breaching the new law may bring dire consequences, each character mounts their own private and ever more public rebellion against family, friends and enemies of the state. Recklessly resourceful, and keenly impassioned in their disparate causes, each faces issues that are just as relevant to young people in today’s political and social climate: freedom of expression, feminism, intolerance, individualism. Tempers are tossed and hearts left aching as each struggles with disappointments, sorrow and forever-partings. Loyalties are tested and expectations mature as the young people confront their own fears and form unexpected alliances against unanticipated enemies. And learn that tolerance, just like friendship and honor, is a two-way street.

Staging Requirements

With few props, Rogues & Vagabonds can be played in the plainest Elizabethan costumes, on a bare stage, from a single trunk, or the set can be as realistic as the individual production allows.

  • SCENE — Backstage at the Merrie Fool, a popular London playhouse.

A typical backstage area, cluttered with the leavings of a recent rehearsal: costume pieces, props, drapery, a paper mache rock, banners, swords, an ornate chair, crates and barrels There is one exit Up, leading to the stage, and one each at left and right, leading to other areas of the building.

  • TIME — September to December 1642



Hillsboro Actor’s Repertory Theatre, Hillsboro, OR

  • January and March 1996, three weeks regular season, 2-week encore

Harrisburg High School, Harrisburg, OR

  • March 2000
  • October 2015

Hillsboro High School, Hillsboro, OR

  • October 2001
  • April/May 2012


“In the early days of a local community repertory theater, HART, just outside of Portland, Oregon, this incredibly talented playwright, gifted our teen actors, including my daughter, Diana Brookins, with a wonderful script to perform. Watching her work with these young people, while she was also honing her dramaturgy was a cherished experience.”  

Kim Sandstrom, HART Theatre


Rogues & Vagabonds is available to school and community groups.  For production and royalty information contact Linda using the form below.

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