Shreds and Patches is an imagining of Shakespeare's Hamlet like no other! An excellent easy-to-stage competition piece that fuses Shakespearean speech with modern dialogue - a super fun way to bring Shakespeare into the classroom!

Theatrefolk - The Drama Teacher Resource Company

Playwright Spotlight: Get to Know Christian Kiley

Welcome to "Playwright Spotlight" — your exclusive backstage pass to the creative minds crafting the incredible plays featured in our Theatrefolk catalogue. Discover the magic, quirks, and genius of the playwrights who help bring the stage to life. Let's meet one of these exceptional playwrights who offers the chance for your student performers to shine in their spotlight.

What inspired you to start writing plays specifically for high school & middle school students?

As a new Drama teacher (in 2005) I needed a play that served my students. After a fairly exhaustive search trying to find a play that would be dynamic, safe, and appropriate for high school while also being challenging. Metaphorically I created a meal myself since I couldn’t find a restaurant. And then of course I fell in love with playwriting.

Can you share a bit about your creative process when developing plays that resonate with students?

I’ve become a much better actor because I am around talented young people consistently. The same principle is true with writing. Being immersed in school life and observing the issues and challenges young people face on a daily basis.

Are there any challenges you face when writing for student performers, and how do you overcome them?

I am old. Cough, cough. Older than the students I serve. I’m aware I can easily backwards hat, cringe dad joke guy. See I did it there.

What themes or messages do you aim to convey through your plays?

I aim to consider the emotional and mental health challenges that face young people. There is a hero in each young person I serve. If something I write can help a young person have the courage to find and enhance their inner hero.

How do you balance education and fun in your scripts?

Imagination is an amazing connector. By stretching my own imagination I hope I challenge the creatives to do the same.

Can you share a memorable experience or feedback from a student performance that left an impact on you?

I had the opportunity to see a performance of Chemo Girl and Other Plays. As a person who won a battle with cancer watching this production was immensely powerful for me. After the curtain call the cast brought me up on stage and gave me a cactus. I planted it my front yard. A cactus can survive in the the most harsh environments. And I/we did too.

Any advice for teachers or directors looking to choose engaging and age-appropriate plays for their student performers?

Take a risk. Not just in the play(s) you select but in the way you produce the play(s). Reconsider your use of the fourth wall, encourage the audience to react/respond, connect with your love of the play and each other.

What is your favourite play you've written so far?

Who’s my favorite child? How dare you! Haha. Discovering Rogue. I feel it. Every single time.

Anything else you'd like students and/or directors to know about you as a playwright?

I am available to be a part of your process and depending on Southern California traffic attend your production.

Products referenced in this post: Discovering Rogue and Chemo Girl and Other Plays

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Resource Bundle - Playwriting

Use these 4 Playwriting drama teaching resources to make playwriting possible with your students. Great for warm-ups, prompts, writer's block and more!

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