“Puffs” Was the Second-Most Produced High School Play in the 2022–2023 Academic Year
If you’ve seen Puffs, or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic, you may be familiar with the phrase “third or nothing!” The tongue-in-cheek refrain expresses the feeling that not placing last in the House Cup is equitable to victory, an opinion held by the Hufflepuffs that make up the play’s focus. This academic year, the hilarious Harry Potter parody production can set its sights a bit higher: second place.
Second place feels different! We're more used to third…Thanks to all the high schools around the country who've joined The Class of '98! https://t.co/5dwyVHYzXk
— Puffs (@PuffsPlay) June 5, 2023
The Educational Theatre Association has recently unveiled the results of its annual survey of the most-produced plays and musicals in high schools in the United States for the 2022–2023 school year. Puffs made second on the list of full-length plays, landing just behind Clue and ahead of classics like Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – not too shabby for an ensemble of side characters.
For those unfamiliar with the show, Puffs is a cheeky and irreverent look at Hogwarts and the world of Harry Potter through the eyes of “a group of well-meaning, loyal outsiders with a thing for badgers,” as the show’s official webpage puts it. The writer, Matt Cox, conceived of the play while reflecting on his own love of the Potter fandom, noting that the experiences of other students at Hogwarts would have been vastly different than those of the series’ three heroes. “What a horror show! You just wanted to get your wizard education, and every year, s*** keeps getting worse,” Cox laughed in an interview with Slate.
It’s that exact sense of flippant amusement which has made Puffs such a smashing success, and its encouragement of improv, ad-libbing, and the like have made it particularly popular with the community and student theater crowd. “It was built to be a play to have fun performing,” Cox said. Based on the show’s success since its first performance in 2015, it would seem audiences have just as much fun watching.
For those in the Illinois area who may have missed a local high school’s production of the parody, here’s a gentle reminder to make your way over to the Otherworld Theatre Company. The show will be playing in Chicago through July 23, and proceeds from the tickets will go to Howard Brown Health to further its mission to provide affirming care to the LGBTQ+ community.