“It’s a fact of life that all teachers dance like idiots”. So says one of the actors in the play Teechers. I am a teacher and I have to confess this is largely true.
Teechers by John Godber was originally conceived for 2 males and 1 female, the female to play 21 roles. In this production it is played by 3 females.
It tells the story of life in a lower socio-economic school. Presented in the form of an end-of-term play, a new drama teacher endures two terms of uninterested classes, cynical fellow staff and the familiar characters found in many schools. Finally, he accepts a job in a private school, much to the distress of his former students.
The 3 talented actors create many memorable characters, notably as the 3 protagonists – Salty, the worldly-wise student with a heart of gold, Gail, the loud mouth and Hobby, the shy introvert who follows the other two.
They guide us through the play and introduce us to some unforgettable staff: Mrs Parry, the loud and domineering Headmistress, Mr Basford, the Deputy Head, a nasty piece of work, played cleverly with a pig nose, Oggy the school bully, Ms. Whitham a quiet teacher, dying to escape the school and Doug, the caretaker who hates kids (and teachers in general).
Thanks to the script, direction and talent of the 3 performers the real messages of the play emerge, namely the relationships dedicated teachers can build with any students, the public versus private school debate, and the difference teachers make in the lives of students, often providing the care and nurturing not received at home.
My favourite section (and the audience’s) is a play developed by the 3 student narrators about corporal punishment, featuring ninjas who dish out the punishment to anyone who upsets students.
The Australian Education Union is an excellent choice of venue. A lecture hall with added lights, rostra, 3 red chairs and a hat rack laden with the costume items needed for transformations provide the up close and personal atmosphere needed to immerse the audience in this insightful play.
Naturally, if you are a teacher you will see this play at another level, but it is a play that is enjoyable for anybody and gives an insight into the problems of modern-day teachers.