Hell’s Canyon by Emily Sheehan


CAST SIZE: 2 characters 1M, 1F

A PLAY TO: Read, read aloud, study, perform and produce.

GENRE: Drama, Magic Realism

THEMES: Friendship, identity, loss, grief, hope

CURRICULUM LINKS: The Arts – Drama, Theatre – Modern, Capabilities – Personal and Social, Ethical Understanding.

SYNOPSIS: “Sometimes there are things you can’t forget about, even when you try. They just pop into your brain outta nowhere. Walking home, or in line at the canteen, or when we were making out before. It smacks you right in the face. Right outta nowhere. I don’t know what’s so wrong about remembering.”

Caitlin and Oscar are hiding out in a motel in the middle of the Australian outback. No one knows they’re there, and seventeen-year-old Caitlin won’t tell fifteen-year-old Oscar why she’s running. They’re out of money and the only thing they have on them is a rare and valuable graphic novel, Hell’s Canyon. But Oscar doesn’t want to sell it. Not for this. Not for anything. Hell’s Canyon is a play that celebrates everything magical about being a young person, the tenacity of teenage friendship, and our ability to transcend tragedy by reaching for the sublime.

STAGING: Scene One: a public par. Scene Two: a motel room. Staging can be simple (the production has been toured). The original production of the work included an AV and sound design which assisted the shift into Magic Realism towards the end of the play. The stage directions from the script offer imaginative choices for how this section of the play could be staged and produced:

An explosion of light.


Deep under water. CAITLIN watches as the light on the surface of the water ripples across space. The ocean bursts from the drawer in the bedside table.

A turtle lands at CAITLIN’s feet.

EDUCATION NOTES : Hell’s Canyon Education Notes 2021

We acknowledge that we live and create on unceded lands. We pay our respects to the First Peoples of Australia, and to their elders past, present and future.

© Australian Plays Transform 2024