Nat’s Last Struggle

by P. A. Wray
  • 60 Minutes
  • 1 Male, Min/Max 1

Simple Set


A one-man play by P. A. Wray.   Nat Turner confronts his conscience in the afterlife. Nathanial “Nat” Turner (1800-1831) was an American slave who brought about the only direct, continuous slave rebellion (August 1831) in U. S. history. Some regard him as a monster, others as a hero in search of freedom. Which was he?

Great for high school, college, community theater, and readers theater.


Enter Quantity Below

  • Review Script 9.00 Watermarked PDF Download
  • Hardcopy 11.00 Delivery 1- 3 Weeks
  • Multi-Copy PDF 27.00 Printable PDF for Cast/Crew

Performance Fee $70.00 A Production License Fee Per Performance (mandatory for all performances)

Apply for Performance Rights

Play Details


Nathaniel “Nat” Turner was born into slavery. At his birth, his mother tried to kill him, wanting no son of hers to be brought up as a slave. When she failed in her attempt, he went to live with his grandmother. Turner taught himself to read and was regarded highly by other slaves, to whom he preached the Bible, and also by the white community. He studied the Scriptures, eventually coming to feel that he had been singled out as a leader.

Believing he was being commanded by God, he organized other slaves and free blacks to spread terror throughout the white South,

His actions set off a new wave of oppressive laws prohibiting the education, assembly, and movement of slaves. The result of his actions had the effect of strengthening proslavery, antiabolitionist attitudes that persisted in the region until the American Civil War (1861–65).

In this play about slavery, P. A. Wray has Nat Turner looking back over his life and failed fight for freedom for slaves as he awaits his execution.

This one-man play has, as its foundation, information contained in the confessions Nat Turner gave to Thomas R. Gray while in his jail cell. During the trial, the confessions were read to the court and Turner admitted to their truth when asked by the magistrate. Other sources of information include Southampton County Historical Society Living Library – Nat Turner, newspaper reports, and interviews.

Many scholars today agree that the most direct route into the mind of Nat Turner is through these confessions. In Nat’s Last Struggle, Wray adheres to much of what Turner was recorded as saying regarding his childhood, his life as a slave, his relationship to God, and why he led the revolt. In dramatizing and fleshing out this story, Wray turns to folklore and her own imagination. She makes no claim that this is a scholarly piece or biography, just a writer’s exploration of an important and fascinating historical character.


From the Play

Play Excerpt:

At rise NAT TURNER speaks to us from the other side.

NAT TURNER: The last thing I remember, was a rope around my neck – and the crowd cheerin’ and jeerin’. When it came time and I was left suspended in the air . . . I just let it go. I didn’t fight it; I didn’t kick or struggle . . . I just let it go. I didn’t want any more of their hateful world . . . so I let it go. When the light went out, it went fast . . . and then there was that darkness . . . darker than anythin’ I’ve ever known. (Beat) And now I’m here, with this damned blood still on my hands.
(looking at his hands)
I’m responsible for this blood; I’m responsible for so much blood . . . . (He panics and paces nevrously)
Why’d you do it, Nat? Why’d you kill all those people? Why’d you kill Massa Travis; he was good to you, you said so yourself? Why’d you kill Missie Whitehead; she was so young, kind and friendly to you? Why’d you do it Nat?! Why’d you do it?

(He stops pacing and becomes calmer. He speaks to his God)

These questions Lord, are burning on my brain, like this blood is burning on my skin. Is this it Lord, am I to burn? Or will you listen; will you hear your servant’s plea? Will you listen to how it was Lord, will you listen to me? Then afterwards, I will stand before You, as my only true judge.

(Lights fade. African drum music is played. Lights rise, on Nat Turner to one side – in the center is a large cube/block)

These things that happened, had to be; they started long ago in my infancy, with my mother . . .

(African drums and chant music plays a few moments as he moves slowly to the block. Nat is now going to present his story – or his confession to his Lord. At times he speaks directly to God, other times he is just putting it our there as he remembers things, he also at times, appears to be speaking to himself as he has epiphanies. The actor should avoid appearing to be telling his story to the audience)

She was carrying me in her belly when she arrived here from Africa. I was swellin’ in her when she went from Jamestown to Suffolk. (he steps up on the block)

That’s where she was placed up on a block and sold into slavery. She became the property of one, Benjamin Turner. He took her from Suffolk to his farm near Jerusalem; that’s where I was born. (Beat) My mama; she didn’t know nothin’ about being somebody’s property, she didn’t know about being somebody’s slave. She won’t no slave back in Africa; no, she was no slave.

(He steps down)

She came over here with the marks of royalty on her arms and face; marks of color put in under her skin; marks which meant she was someone special. My mama had come from a place where she had been free; but she wasn’t free no more. (Beat) I guess as the months passed and as I grew in her stomach, she began to realize what being a slave meant. At some point, I guess, she made up her mind that I was not going to be a slave. That her son, was meant to be someone special, and she was not going to have him born into slavery . . . Yeah, she made up her mind all right . . .

My Mama, tried to kill me when I was born, but I lived. By the way she acted, everyone knew she would try again; they knew she was determined to keep me from being a slave. So to keep me alive, Mr. Turner took me to live with an older slave couple, who lived in a ol shack near the furthest edge of the farm. Yep, they put me with them, so’s my mama wouldn’t kill me. (Beat) That’s really somethin’ for a man to realize, somethin’ for a man to struggle with in his mind – to know that your mama tried to kill ya. But I knew that she only wanted what was best for me, and that was to be free – she knew what that was . . .
(looking up)
Here I am mama, this is your son, and- I- am- free!
(He takes a few moments before continuing)
I guess you could say mama knew; sometimes it takes blood to make you free. Well, that’s somethin’ that I learned too; I learned it at my grandma’s knee.


  • Coneja Players & CBJ Productions, Feb 19-21 2021

    Coneja Players in Association with CBJ Productions, Thousand Oaks, CA.

    The CAST
    John L. Adams ……..Nat Turner

    john L adams actor nat's last struggle john l adams actor nat's last struggle

    Production STAFF

    Timothy Jones …………Director
    April Dobbs, Beth Eslick…….Producers
    Mark Suarez……. Stage Manager Robert Reeves………….Streaming Tech Director

    Rick Steinberg………………Set Designer Jim Diderrich …….. Lighting Designer
    John Eslick……..Props Designer/VO Artist

    Beth Eslick ………..Costume Designer Joanne Zahorsky-Reeves………Sound Operator

    Rita McCaffrey …………Light Operator Timothy Jones ……… Camera Operator Jeremy Zeller …………Technical Adviser Robin Rassell …………….Media Director
    Rick Steinberg, Rita McCaffrey, Maddie Treadwell ……. Painting Crew
    Rick Steinberg, Bob Jackson ………..Set Construction

  • Wells Theatre, Norfolk, Virginia - Sat. 15 August 2020

    Virginia Stage Company Virtual Performance

    Stellar performance of Nat’s Last Struggle – opened by an intense, foreboding voices- off by Ryan Clemens, then a breathtaking portrayal of Nat by Terrance Afer-Anderson accompanied by Charisse Minerva and her enchanting voice and mood-setting percussions, then interacting with the audience.


  • Calion Maston - Carpenters House of Worship AZ 5 Sep 2020 20

  • Hamner Theater, Nellysford, October 2011

    From the Norfolk Summer Play Fest 2011, a powerful one-act, one-man show written by Norfolk playwright P.A. Wray.

    October 14  & October 15,  Hamner Theater Nellysford

    Featuring George T. Davis, III, as Nat Turner.

    Review“Nat’s Last Struggle,” the ninth and final new play of the Norfolk Summer Play Fest, opened last night at The Venue, and though I’d seen an earlier version (and reviewed it here), I found myself caught in its spell once again. The story alone is captivating.”

    Thinking Dog Reviews 

    George T. Davis III as Nat turner


    Read More on the Hamner Theatre Website

  • Carpenters House of Worship AZ 2020

  • Celebration Arts, May 26-27, 2021

    Celebration Arts, May 26-27, 2021

    Directed by James Wheatley

You may also like…

  • A Cold Day in Hell

    by Jan Quackenbush
    • 50 Minutes
    • 1 Male 0 Female Max/Min 1

    Community, Simple Set, Touring

    A Cold Day in Hell portrays one man’s effort at resolving his despair at his dilemma of having a hospitalized, comatose wife, apparently with no hope of recovery, and grown children who seem to him to be self-absorbed and detached from his plight.
    A tour-de-force single-character play by author Jan Quackenbush, its actor, Michael Liscio was awarded a 1988 Los Angeles Dramalogue Award in a long-running production by the California Cottage Theatre, 1988-1991.

    Read More
  • D. D.The Concise Christmas Carol

    by D.D. Delaney
    • 50 Minutes
    • 1 Male (up to 4 possible)

    Comedy, Drama, Flexible Casting

    A 50-minute condensed monologue adapted from Charles Dickens’ Scrooge. How the ghosts who haunt him, eventually transform a lonely, stingy, bitter old man into a generous, infectiously cheerful humanitarian. D.D. Delaney, a professional actor, playwright, journalist, and poet has adapted the familiar holiday classic for the stage. Written as a monologue, it can also be performed by 4 actors.   Ideal for Christmas celebrations, house performances, and readers theater.  Downloadable PDF available.

    Read More
Added Cart Notif
Need a Purchase Order ? Click Here
Continue Shopping