Theatrefolk - The Drama Teacher Resource Company

Theatrefolk Featured Play – Passing Period Purgatory by Christian Kiley

Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight. Passing Period Purgatory by Christian Kiley is an extremely relevant and relatable high school drama. This is a play you will definitely want to read and allow your student performers to bring to life.

Sometimes the hardest part of school is getting from one class to the next. No one wants to make eye contact. No one wants to reach out when they see others in need. It’s toxic out there in the hallway of purgatory.

So what do we do? How can we look after others if we can’t even look after ourselves? You might be late for class, but you’re on time for the meaningful change that’s going to take place.

Are you willing to stand up?

Why did we publish this play?
Passing Period Purgatory is 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 is building in school hallways, and in our lives? How do we survive when there is so much trying to take us down, be it because of our identity, our expression, or just being alive. How do we be ourselves?

I love the theatricality of this piece (Chorus members are a collection of Toxic individuals), I love the message of the piece (we survive toxicity together) and the relevancy of the play. It is a play for right now, for the classroom, for production, for competition. I encourage all of you to give it a read.

Let’s hear from the author!

1. Why did you write this play?
As a teacher, I see and hear stories about passing periods on a regular basis. It’s a source of anxiety for many of our young people. I think it’s of critical importance 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 that they hastily crammed for but they should feel safe to be their most authentic selves. I wanted to write a play that we could produce at my high school in an actual hallway (though your production can be produced in your theater, drama room, or virtually) to encourage every student/person to help elevate the collective positive energy and eliminate the negativity in our schools.

2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences.
There is nothing more worthy of standing up for than your true self.

3. What’s the most important visual for you in this play?
When the Non-Toxics stand up to the Toxics (pg. 25). When each Non-Toxic stands in front of a member of the Toxic Chorus and they fall to the ground. I like big moments that require immense physical commitment. This is an opportunity for such a moment.

4. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?
Connect with what you are experiencing in your school and community. Just like no two productions are the same, no two schools/communities are the same either. 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 make their lives and the lives of those around them better. The reality of this play is right outside their classroom doors.

6. Do you have any advice for people looking to perform this play online or socially distanced? 
I would be really excited to see how a director and cast might approach that. I would say there is a lot of opportunity to push the envelope as it relates to the sound of the Toxics (vocal distortion, etc.) And the visual design of play would be interesting as it relates to the actors and their distance from the camera. And one thing I didn’t think of until I read this question is that an online or socially distanced production can truly give the audience the sense of isolation that a student can feel during passing periods.

Products referenced in this post: Passing Period Purgatory

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