Shaping up for high school satire

Role of the teacher in our education system examined in Kings of the Gym.

Role of the teacher in our education system examined in Kings of the Gym.

GYM TIME: The Gisborne Unity Theatre’s upcoming play Kings of the Gym opens this month and runs from November 23 to 30. Pictures supplied
Kings of the Gym director James Packman is convinced his cast is in full command of the play’s biting humour.

When Unity Theatre staged Dave Armstrong’s, The Motor Camp two years ago, audiences rocked with laughter at the way New Zealand summer holidays were lampooned and family relationships dismantled.

In Kings of the Gym that opens this month, Friday, November 23, an even funnier and at times more bitingly satirical comedy takes this country’s secondary education system as its theme.

Set in the shabby office of a school gymnasium, the play fires pot shots at most of those terribly serious aspects of being a teacher in a low decile school.

No sacred cow is allowed to escape without being soundly pelted: everything from politically correct discourse to the clash of science and religion is pursued in two acts that are guaranteed to both entertain and provoke discussion.

Slovenly and disorganised teachers don’t exist, do they? According to Armstrong, we need to wake up on that score.

Presiding over a chaotic physical dducation department is Trevor Shaskey in the role of Laurie Connor, a cheerful slob more interested in placing bets on sporting events than in controlling classes of delinquents whose antics the audience become aware of through sound-effects.

Laurie has no time for fashionable educational theory and is an unreformed chauvinist with attitudes that are supposedly a thing of the past.

His offsider is an able young man, Pat Kennedy, played by Simon Marino.

Both men are being closely watched by the principal, an ambitious and stridently feminist Viv Cleaver (Gina Ferkins) who stalks her way into their realm and drops a bombshell by introducing a keen student teacher, Annie Tupua.

Played by Kate Adams, it is this character who creates real disruption in the lives of the other three and compels the audience to ask themselves what they would do, confronted by the dilemmas that arise from her being “trained” in the teaching profession.

Adams, Marino and Shaskey are all newcomers to the Unity stage and the committee are delighted to have them on board, impressed by the aplomb with which they are exploring their roles.

Ferkins has wide experience with Unity and again delivers a compelling performance.

Director James Packman has enjoyed working with all four and is convinced his cast is in full command of the play’s biting humour and thought-provoking issues.

He directed, The Bach for Unity a year ago, and is finding this new play more satisfying on many levels.

It offers greater scope for development of character and the very familiar situations that arise in the course of the comedy are going to strike a chord, he believes, with anyone who has experienced life in a New Zealand high school.

The audience finds itself seated like an assembly of students in the run down gymnasium, looking in at the Phys.Ed teacher’s office then becoming students being bellowed at through the window when Laurie decides it’s time they got on with a few ball handling skills.

Kings of the Gym runs from November 23-30 with matinee performances in addition to the usual evening shows at 7.30pm. Reservations are urged since it is likely to prove very popular. Tickets are available from the i-Site office in Grey Street.

When Unity Theatre staged Dave Armstrong’s, The Motor Camp two years ago, audiences rocked with laughter at the way New Zealand summer holidays were lampooned and family relationships dismantled.

In Kings of the Gym that opens this month, Friday, November 23, an even funnier and at times more bitingly satirical comedy takes this country’s secondary education system as its theme.

Set in the shabby office of a school gymnasium, the play fires pot shots at most of those terribly serious aspects of being a teacher in a low decile school.

No sacred cow is allowed to escape without being soundly pelted: everything from politically correct discourse to the clash of science and religion is pursued in two acts that are guaranteed to both entertain and provoke discussion.

Slovenly and disorganised teachers don’t exist, do they? According to Armstrong, we need to wake up on that score.

Presiding over a chaotic physical dducation department is Trevor Shaskey in the role of Laurie Connor, a cheerful slob more interested in placing bets on sporting events than in controlling classes of delinquents whose antics the audience become aware of through sound-effects.

Laurie has no time for fashionable educational theory and is an unreformed chauvinist with attitudes that are supposedly a thing of the past.

His offsider is an able young man, Pat Kennedy, played by Simon Marino.

Both men are being closely watched by the principal, an ambitious and stridently feminist Viv Cleaver (Gina Ferkins) who stalks her way into their realm and drops a bombshell by introducing a keen student teacher, Annie Tupua.

Played by Kate Adams, it is this character who creates real disruption in the lives of the other three and compels the audience to ask themselves what they would do, confronted by the dilemmas that arise from her being “trained” in the teaching profession.

Adams, Marino and Shaskey are all newcomers to the Unity stage and the committee are delighted to have them on board, impressed by the aplomb with which they are exploring their roles.

Ferkins has wide experience with Unity and again delivers a compelling performance.

Director James Packman has enjoyed working with all four and is convinced his cast is in full command of the play’s biting humour and thought-provoking issues.

He directed, The Bach for Unity a year ago, and is finding this new play more satisfying on many levels.

It offers greater scope for development of character and the very familiar situations that arise in the course of the comedy are going to strike a chord, he believes, with anyone who has experienced life in a New Zealand high school.

The audience finds itself seated like an assembly of students in the run down gymnasium, looking in at the Phys.Ed teacher’s office then becoming students being bellowed at through the window when Laurie decides it’s time they got on with a few ball handling skills.

Kings of the Gym runs from November 23-30 with matinee performances in addition to the usual evening shows at 7.30pm. Reservations are urged since it is likely to prove very popular. Tickets are available from the i-Site office in Grey Street.

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