Chalkface, STC’s satirical staff room comedy, is a love letter to teachers
Australia’s primary education system will be put under the microscope and ‘chalk-worked’ teachers will be hailed in Angela Betzien’s satirical comedy Chalkface, which plays at the Sydney Opera House’s Drama Theater from September 15.
Commissioned by the Sydney Theater Company (STC) and co-produced with the State Theater Company South Australia (STCSA), Chalkface premiered at the Dunstan Playhouse in Adelaide last week and was hailed by critics and teachers alike as “eminently and hilarious passed” (Arts Hub) and “a dark humor course worth taking” (Limelight).
The piece was partly inspired by Betzien’s upbringing as the daughter of two teachers, as well as her own difficult experience of homeschooling throughout the pandemic.
Set entirely in the teachers’ room of a fictional public school over the course of a school year, the play examines the issues facing the Australian education system and irreverently addresses privatization, bureaucracy and local culture. work.
Chalkface is directed by STC Resident Director Jessica Arthur (Wonnangatta, Grand Horizons) and stars acclaimed actress Catherine McClements (Water Rats, Wentworth), Stephanie Somerville (who has voiced for STC productions Julius Caesar and Blithe Spirit ), Susan Prior (Aftertaste) and in their debut at the STC: Michelle Ny, Nathan O’Keefe and Ezra Juanta.
Arthur, who has assembled an excellent creative team including composer and sound designer Jessica Dunn, set and costume designer Ailsa Paterson, lighting designer Mark Shelton and assistant director Clement Rukundo, says Chalkface is a tribute to all teachers:
It’s a play about school and teaching. Looking at this piece, you can’t help but reflect on the teachers who shaped you or the interesting experiences you shared with your classmates.
I also think it is very relevant to come out of confinement because, having now experienced home schooling, collectively people appreciate how essential teachers and education are. I think it’s very easy for us to get complacent with this, but Chalkface is almost like a love letter to teachers and the people who shape us.
Playwright Angela Betzien (The Hanging, ABC’s Total Control):
Chalkface is his first foray into comedy – writing during a pandemic, I couldn’t bear the thought of creating something dark.
Life was bleak, and like so many others, I struggled to work and homeschool. In Chalkface, I wrote a comedy about a familiar world – an education system that’s past its expiration date, a system that needs a revolution.
I hope Chalkface will be cathartic for teachers, a comedic feast they can enjoy with their colleagues, and a chance to see their vital work reflected on stage. This piece is a wacky love letter to all those teachers who changed us, who made a difference, who set us on the course of our lives. It is about the need to teach and encourage our children to resist and question. In an uncertain future, these qualities will be more important than ever.
Venue: Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House
Date: September 15-October 29, 2022
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