Back in the 80’s when I was just a young whippersnapper, John Godber ( who was a former drama teacher in West Yorkshire) became the artistic director at Hull Truck. With little funding back then for plays, and with a need to attract audiences, he used his personal experiences in teaching (and the desire to connect others through shared educational experiences) and created the epic play Teechers. It delved into the realms of story-telling theatre and multi-role playing, showed some of his own comical experiences, and of course was a hit!
Now, as part of Hull Truck Theatre’s 50th anniversary celebrations, John Godber has re-imagined his iconic play for the leavers of 2022. With a myriard of changes in state education over the last few decades, and ever increasing pressures on teachers. we now see an increase in school funding issues, exam chaos, tech poverty, isolation, absenteeism and the lost school hours thanks to a global pandemic. Each one, and in fact all of them combined for some schools, have certainly put the state system here in the UK under more pressure than ever before. Now back for 2022, this highly physical, hugely funny and deceptively radical play hits these issues head on and gives us an honest insight into life for some of the kids who seem so often overlooked, and I can assure you that it will entertain both fans of the classic and newcomers alike.
Date night this last weekend saw us take our seats in the audience and watch the adventures, relationships, and stories told by Salty, Gail and Hobby, who are all departing Whitewall College for uncertain futures in uncertain times. It was funny, energetic, thought provoking and brilliant. And, there’s really nothing quite like ending a school half term and heading to the theatre to catch a play delving into life at a British state school (especially when you’re married to a teacher!).
I really love things that are culturally funny – you know like anyone who has ever been to a British state school or taught at one, will absolutely relate to this. From the representation of certain teachers, pupils or simply the social dynamics – it is all so relate-able and funny, and done in a way of “if you know, you know”. We both really enjoyed it, and loved how wonderfully just 3 actors took to the stage in a multi role manner to tell the story of their school experiences and how it changed with the arrival of a young, passionate drama teacher.
Empathy, confidence, passion, understanding, team work, concentration and creativity are just some of the many life skills developed through drama (not to mention the sheer enjoyment for the subject), and yet it is so often overlooked as a subject (as are most of the artistic subjects). I know myself it was often seen as waste of time. However, this play rightly shows just how important it is that we continue to fight for more focus to be placed on artistic and creative subjects in our schools, and realise their ability to help connect, grow and inspire young people from all walks of life – these are just as valuable and important in their educational journey as those now labelled “core subjects”. You only have to see this play, to leave realising how all of these changes from Government have and are affecting the young people of today.
Teechers Leavers ’22 is now showing at Hull Truck Theatre until Sat 11th June 2022 – Tickets can be bought here
Running Time: Approx. 2 hours 15 mins (inc a break/interval)
Recommended Age: 12+
Thanks to Hull Truck for allowing us to see and review this play in return for a review!