Welcome to Spotlight Play. The period of passing through Purgatory by Christian Kiley is a highly relevant and relatable high school drama. This is a piece you will definitely want to read and let your students bring to life.
Sometimes the hardest part of school is moving from one class to another. No one wants to make eye contact. No one wants to reach out when they see others in need. It’s toxic over there in the hallway of purgatory.
So what are we doing? How can we take care of others if we can’t even take care of ourselves? You may be late for class, but you are on time for the significant change that will take place.
Are you willing to stand up?
Why did I publish this piece?
Transition period Purgatory it’s about how hard it is to get from one place to another and the obstacles in our way. It takes place in a school hallway, but it’s a concept that affects us all. How do we survive the toxicity that builds up in the school hallways and in our lives? How do we survive when there are so many attempts to bring us down, whether because of our identity, our expression, or just being alive. How to be ourselves?
I love the theatricality of this piece (the members of the Chorus are a collection of Toxic individuals), I love the message of the piece (we survive toxicity together) and the relevance of the piece. It is a play for now, for class, for production, for competition. I encourage you all to read it.
Let’s hear from the author!
1. Why did you write this piece?
As a teacher, I regularly see and hear stories about passing periods. It is a source of anxiety for many of our young people. I think it is critically important to be aware of the energy that is present in our schools. Young people may not want to come to school for the Chemistry test they’ve been cramming for, but they should feel safe to be their most authentic selves. I wanted to write a play that we could produce at the high school in an actual hallway (although your production can be produced in your theater, theater room, or virtually) to encourage each student/person to help increase the collective positive energy and removing negativity from our schools.
2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences.
There is nothing more worth defending than your true self.
3. What is the most important visual material for you in this piece?
When the non-toxic ones face the toxic ones (page 25). When every Non-Toxic stands in front of a member of the Toxic Choir and they fall to the ground. I like big moments that require a huge physical commitment. This is an opportunity for such a moment.
4. If you could give one piece of advice to those producing the piece, what would it be?
Connect with what you experience in your school and community Just as no two productions are the same, no two schools/communities are the same. What makes your school unique and extraordinary is the ability you and your students have to bring about positive change.
5. Why is this play great for student performers?
I hope it relates to their experiences, but more importantly, their desire and commitment to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. The reality of this play is right outside their classroom doors.
6. Do you have any advice for people who want to play this game online or socially distanced?
I would be very excited to see how a director and cast could approach this. I’d say there’s a lot of opportunity to push the envelope in terms of the sound of Toxics (vocal distortion, etc.) And the visual design of the piece would be interesting as it relates to the actors and their distance from the camera. . And one thing I didn’t think about until I read this question is that an online or socially distanced production can really give the audience the feeling of isolation that a student can feel during the passing periods.
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