A new type of instruction

Saturday, 18 June 2011 00:23 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Equally enjoyable for current senior school students and for those whose school days are a rapidly receding memory, “Teechers” is about a group of teenage pupils at Whitewall School, who decide to write a play about their teachers, to persuade their favourite teacher to stay at the school. Whilst the intention may have been serious, the results are very definitely comic!

Schools are full of teachers who are memorable characters for all sorts of different reasons, both good and bad. Whitewall is no different, and “Teechers” brings to life many of these, including the cane-wielding Mr. Basford (“Kids respect discipline, hit them low and hard.”), sultry Miss. Prime (who “smirks the sort of smirk that only PE staff can do”), and the larger-than-life principal, Mrs. Parry, with her passion for drama (and younger men!). We also meet many equally colourful pupils, such as school bully, Oggy Moxon, the tattooed Pete Saxon, and the legendary Barry Wobschall.

What makes “Teechers” unusual is that all 25 characters in the play are brought to comic life by just three actors. This is never confusing, even though it is done with the minimum of scenery, costumes or props; instead, the actors mostly use variations of voice, movement and mannerism, often achieving hilarious results. As Salty, one of the characters, says to the audience: “All we want you to do is use your imagination”.

Those who have visited the British School Auditorium before will find that the lay-out of the theatre has been altered completely for this production, so that the audience will be sitting on three sides of the stage. This versatility was intended by the original architects, but has never been used before.

“Teechers” is directed by Andrew Fowler-Watt, the Principal of The British School, in his final production before leaving Sri Lanka next month. It follows on from the sell-out production of “Grease” which he directed last year. He was keen to do one more play before departing; largely because (like Mrs. Parry in “Teechers”), he is a principal with a passion for drama! He has directed more than 50 plays over the years, ranging from large-scale productions of Shakespeare and Broadway musicals, through to intimate experimental theatre. He has directed “Teechers” once before, in a production which started in the UK and went on tour to Southern Africa.

Two of the three actors in this production of “Teechers” (Benjamin Aluwihare and Kimaya De Silva) are “Grease” veterans, whilst the third (Sahar Jamal) is new to British School this year. All three are studying IB Theatre at The British School under the expert tuition of Tracy Holsinger, Head of the Arts Faculty.