Theatrefolk - The Drama Teacher Resource Company

Theatrefolk Featured Play – Chemo Girl and Other Plays by Christian Kiley

Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight. Chemo Girl and Other Playsby Christian Kiley is an incredible dramatic collection of plays that can be performed as a full night of theatre or as a cutting for competition.

A collection of plays that examine the impact of cancer as seen through the eyes of teenagers. Characters deal with the difficulty of saying the word cancer out loud, the difficulty of admitting a friend or family member has the disease, and the difficulty of finding the energy and the attitude needed to fight.

Why did we publish this play?
We are incredibly proud to publish Chemo Girl and Other Plays. Not only do we respect Christian Kiley as a writer, we love that he trusted us with this particular work as it comes out of his own fight against cancer. Christian has fully theatricalized “the C word” and examines the impact of cancer through the eyes of teenagers – that’s a perspective we don’t often see with this disease.

Let’s hear from the author!

1. Why did you write this play?
In May of 2012, I got really sick and was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I wanted to do something meaningful, powerful even, while I was undergoing chemotherapy. I started writing “Red Rover” and I realized that I had a story to tell. One that I hoped would give people insight into the experience of battling cancer and maybe even inspire people to fight.

2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences.
Chemo Girl and Other Plays is a look at the resiliency people, particularly young people, have in fighting cancer. We are strong, stronger that we know, and we have to dig deep to find the courage to overcome life’s biggest challenges.

3. What’s the most important visual for you in this play?
I have been amazed with the artwork, photographs, and moments in productions that I have seen of Chemo Girl and Other Plays. I love this question because my answer can change based on a production I have not seen yet (a version of the play that has yet to be produced). My favorite image in the collection of plays is when Camille swims down to attempt to cut the red wire. This is an image that exemplifies the bravery and resiliency required to overcome one of life’s biggest challenges.

4. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?
I know this is true for Theatre in general too, but, push the limits, explore your imagination. Experiment, explore, and say yes to creative ideas! One of the things I am most proud of with this play is that it relies almost entirely on the actors individually and as an ensemble to create the world of the play. It is a great challenge for a group of dynamically talented actors to rely on themselves. Embrace the challenge!

5. Why is this play great for student performers?
It hands the issue, the fight, over to talented young people. They are the ones that very soon will have their hands on the wheel that guides the direction of our future, our planet. For me, Jasmine Hamming (the very talented student director) guided the production of Chemo Girl (2012) so beautifully when I was out, not at school, receiving treatment, and returned to see the product, I honestly said what I honestly felt, that I could not have done a better job. I was honored and humbled that a student could convey such love and respect to a mentor/teacher in such a profound way.

In the handful of productions of Chemo Girl and Other Plays that I have seen in Southern California (and they have been high-quality productions), I have been struck by how much the experience has meant to the students. Our young people want to fight for noble causes, they want to make the world better. This play is my small contribution to the myriad of possibilities available for artist-students to fight the good fight.

Products referenced in this post: Chemo Girl and Other Plays

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