MPW School Play: Teechers by John Godber
For many years, the Theatre Studies department has mounted productions of plays as part of the A level course.
This year we took this to another level by putting on a production of John Godber’s 1984 drama Teechers at a professional venue. Following a long period of planning, the project was made a reality in February 2014. What began as a two-hour weekly Drama Club as part of General Studies with four members in the Theatre Studies room soon became a fully-fledged play with a cast of ten (as well as an entire backstage department) on the stage of the Chelsea Theatre. To say it exceeded expectations would be something of an understatement!
We entered our first rehearsal unsure of what to expect. The only thing confirmed was the venue: the highly impressive space at the Chelsea Theatre, available for two nights the week after Half Term. To our delight, the number of interested students grew with every session (and we even developed a technical team, thanks to the enthusiasm and expertise of various students). Before long we were up and running – we just had to choose the play...
Following a few improvisation-based sessions where members of the company got to know each other, we arrived at the obvious choice: the enduring educational classic Teechers by John Godber. Anyone familiar with the piece will recognise the potential for comedy as students in the play-within-a-play pretend to be teachers, a source of hilarity for all of us throughout rehearsals. Soon enough, parts were cast and the production was underway. Despite the February first night seeming to approach with alarming speed, the cast pulled together brilliantly and delivered two remarkable performances. I am sure I speak for my fellow teachers in saying they did us proud. We also raised an extremely impressive £250 (and counting) for the Blue Elephant Theatre in Camberwell.
Jack Harrison starred as the indomitable Mr Harrison, starting out at a new school full of eccentric ‘teechers’ and a theatrically bonkers headmistress, Mrs Parry (Savannah Adler/Mathilda Wood), who develops a particular penchant for him! He, however, is more intrigued by the gym teacher – played by the athletic Baywatch-dancing Miss Prime (Millie Saha). Serena Hardwick showed her dynamism playing the playful ‘Hobby’ and the disciplinarian Mr Basford. Chris Sharp and Rachel Alexander gave engaging performances as the two other lead students (Salty and Gail) and both conquered many lines to form the school drama club and lead the narrative. ‘Oggy Moxon’ was played by the unfazed Alfie Maxwell, complete with ginger wig! James Chae delivered well-tuned comic performances as a biscuit-eating teacher and an excited student while Tommy Moore gained rapturous applause for his gruff ‘Doug the caretaker’ and athletic Simon Patterson. The performance involved a series of speedy costume changes and scene switches: all the cast certainly showed their versatility here!
As the dust settles on this fantastic experience, we hope that an MPW tradition has been born and we are already planning the next production. It would be unforgivable not to mention the various people who helped make this project a reality, especially David Bainbridge for his constant reassurances, Paul Roberts and Roy Ashman for their unrelenting enthusiasm, James Barton for facilitating the production, the entire DoS team for their ongoing support and Doug the caretaker for helping with the seats.