Liz's plays tend to be musicals, but not in the conventional sense.  The music in these theatrical works covers many styles and characterizations, ranging from reggae to Tibetan chanting.  Liz weaves music and words together in her plays to create a unique and captivating style.

Published plays available for purchase:


A collection of songs sung by troubled children. While the subject is primarily runaway children from broken homes, Runaways also comments on the larger world in which the children live. "Elizabeth Swados makes us eavesdrop on the sufferings of children. That sounds ominous but it isn't.... The calligraphy of childhood is one of the wonders of nature even when the message it writes is heartbreaking."---N.Y. Times. "An immensely affecting show."---Newsweek. First performed at Martinson Hall Public Theater and The Plymouth Theater on Broadway.
Click here to buy Runaways.

Alice in Concert:
Meryl Streep made a great impression in this musical directed and produced by Joseph Papp at the Public Theatre. An extremely imaginative rendering of the Alice in Wonderland story, performed on a bare stage. The music encompasses everything from country-western to calypso, all transmogrified by Ms. Swados' inimitable style. "Ms. Swados' new dramatized cantata ... made me think of Carroll very deeply.... [She] magnificently catches most of Carroll's divine nuttiness.... Her best musical to date."-- N.Y. Post
Click here to buy Alice in Concert.


This delightful romp of a show is based on Mr. Trudeau's famous comic strip. While they try to make it through commencement, the Walden crowd must fend off Zonker's uncle Duke, who wants to bulldoze their house and replace it with condos. "A larkish lampoon of an entertainment, sometimes sweet and often very funny. The score ranges from rock and calypso to tender ballad and boogie-woogie-- a lively assortment of solos, duets and ensembles."-- Christian Science Monitor.
Click here to buy Doonesbury.

The Red Sneaks:

This musical for teens is a loose adaptation of the The Red Shoes, transposed to today's urban jungle. "The most refreshing thing about The Red Sneaks ... is the chance to hear youths rather than adults talk about the nightmarish pressures of urban life."-- N.Y. Times. "Remarkably clear, unsentimental and disturbing.... A gritty little musical that combines pop and rock with more traditional musical comedy."--- AP. "A most effective contemporary morality play.... The music has real gusto."---N.Y. Post.
Click here to buy The Red Sneaks.

The Haggadah:

A retelling of the story of Exodus with chant, gospel, rock and roll,
masks and clever use of puppetry. "Children should find delight in the puppets . . . is one of (Swados) happier efforts and worthy of becoming a public theatre institution".-- N.Y. Daily News. This unusual show was originally produced (and later revived) during Passover at Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theatre.
here to buy The Haggadah.

Jewish Girlz:
A weekend retreat sponsored by two female rabbis where adolescent Jewish girls from all types of families and backgrounds exchange stories and songs, transcending stereotypes to find individuality, heart and humor.  Examines the fast pace of this decade and what it means to be a girl - not just a Jewish girl - in modern society. Songs range from contemporary pop tunes to upbeat numbers based on religious liturgy. Underwritten with a series of major grants from the Hadassah Foundation.
here to buy Jewish Girlz.

Other Plays by Elizabeth Swados:
Bible Women:   A song cycle that presents women from the Bible as strong rock and cabaret singers with their own version of traditional stories. Debuted in New York at Bottom Line and La Mama, toured seven cities.


An absurdist musical extravaganza based on the life of French playwright Alfred Jarry and starring his monstrous creations, Ma and Pa Ubu. Recently completed a succesful 9-week run at The Flea Theater in New York. Commissioned by The Alley Theater in Houston.
This musical comedy combines the French Absurdist classic play Ubu Roi with the wild life of young playwright Alfred Jarry. In JABU, scatological Pa Ubu and his bumbling cronies murder the King and throw the country into mindless chaos. This is juxtaposed against the colorful life of Ubu playwright Alfred Jarry, a vibrant young man determined to be his own comic star. JABU is staged using elements of vaudeville, circus, puppetry, clowning, and musical theater mixed with slides and video. It features a cast of eighteen.
Missionaries:   A sung play dedicated to the four women who were murdered in El Salvador in 1980. Performed in 2005 at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine. First performed with New York Stage and Film at Vassar and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Night Club Cantata:   A cabaret which sets the work of well known poets and writers to music. The show deals with extremes of both subject and emotion, covering such diverse topics as birdcalls, Delmore Schwartz, Frank O'Hara, ragas and circus.  First performed in New York at The Village Gate, also in Boston and Washington D.C.
Rap Master Ronnie:   Political cabaret created by Garry Trudeau and Elizabeth Swados during Regan's administration. First performed in New York at The Village Gate.
The 49 Years:   A play about a 70 year-old female composer and her 47 year-old sexy, suicidal mother who comes back to visit her from wandering the spheres. 49 Years is the amount of time the mother must wander the spheres as punishment for her suicide. First performed in New York at The Actor's Studio Theater.
The Trilogy:   Medea, Electra, and The Trojan Women. In ancient Greek and Latin, created with Andre Serban. First performed at La Mama in New York.
Plays for Children and Teens:
The Hating Pot:   A musical about racism and anti-Semitism. Rooted in New York and its boroughs, but applicable anywhere.
The Violence Project:   A piece concerning the atmosphere of violence in our culture, how it affects young people, and how we draw the line between rage and injustice in ourselves.
Loss and Gain:   A play devoted to testimonies from kids about their loss--whether tiny or huge--how they deal with it, and how we can grow from loss.
The Future Hearts and Minds:   A piece about mental illness in children. When they're not crazy, but they think they are, and when they might be crazy but think they're not. The reality of being a teenager and the unreality of being a teenager.
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