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Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


“PUFFS” Fall Play Stars Unlikely Heroes

“PUFFS” stars the unlikely hero Wayne Hopkins. Photo: Broadway Crew.

This year, Sidwell’s new Upper School Theater Arts Teacher Sentell Harper is directing the fall play: “Puffs, or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic.”

The show is a comedic retelling of J.K. Rowling’s classic “Harry Potter” book series, which recalls the eponymous hero’s adventures across seven years. The twist, however, is that the audience follows the story of Wayne Hopkins, a member of the “Puff” house.

Before arriving at Sidwell, Harper taught theater and acting for over eight years and worked as a professional actor in Chicago and New York.

Theater to me represents a way to shed light on communities whose stories and voices go untold.

— Sentell Harper

Harper loves “a good story about a hero who discovers their potential, and this play tells the story of some unlikely heroes,” he said in an interview.

“Puffs” opened in December 2015 at the People’s Improv Theater in New York City, continuing to be performed in Australia and Canada. In 2017, “Puffs” was nominated for the Off Broadway Alliance Awards under the “Best Unique Theatrical Experience” category. Written by playwright Matt Cox, the play has been performed by regional and school theaters throughout the country.

One reason Harper chose “Puffs” was because of its humorous script. “I wanted to do a comedy my first year at Sidwell because after such an exhausting pandemic year for all of us, I wanted our community to laugh,” he said.

Sophomore Gigi Katsock auditioned for the play. She said in an interview that she is “really excited to get back into live theater… after everything has been virtual for so long.”

Katsock recently watched an off-Broadway recording of the show on YouTube, claiming it was “really funny and seems like a great show to get everyone back into live theater and performances.”

Last spring, students participated in a musical theater showcase presented via Zoom. Katsock recalls participating in the online showcase, noting that it was the only high school production she has been in at Sidwell thus far. As a result of the pandemic, most underclassmen find themselves in similar situations, but as “Puffs” will be rehearsed and performed in person this fall, Harper hopes to increase the added excitement around live theater in the Sidwell community.

Harper added that “Puffs” is not just a comedic piece, however — “it is a story from the perspective of characters whose voices were never heard,” he said. The main characters of “Puffs,” Wayne and his best friends Oliver and Megan, were never mentioned in the original “Harry Potter” books or movies but come alive in the play, representing new kinds of heroes. 

“Theater to me represents a way to shed light on communities whose stories and voices go untold. So, my vision for the theater arts program at Sidwell is to have a space where all of our stories and voices can be heard and expressed through the magic of performance,” Harper said. This way, he continued, “the true power of theater can emerge.”

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About the Contributor
Erica Lu '24
Erica Lu '24, Editor-in-Chief
Erica Lu is currently Editor-in-Chief of Horizon. She served as a Features Editor in the 2022-2023 school year. Prior to that, she worked as a Staff Writer for the newspaper.
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