Hull Truck Theatre continues to raise the bar with its exciting 50th anniversary programme with a world premiere from playwright John Godber OBE, who has reimagined his critically acclaimed ‘Teechers’, originally performed in 1987, for the leavers of 2022.
Teechers Leavers ‘22 opens from 19 May – 11 June and marks a return to Hull Truck Theatre for the former artistic director, who was at the helm for more than 25 years. This modern-day reimagining of a much-loved production – which has since become one of the most performed plays in the world – will be directed by Mark Babych, the current Artistic Director of Hull Truck Theatre.
Not dissimilar to the present day, in 1987 the teaching of drama in comprehensive education was being marginalised in a system under pressure. In the same year Hull Truck Theatre produced Teechers, which became the go-to play to attract young people to the theatre. Thirty-five years later, exam chaos, tech poverty, isolation, absenteeism and lost school hours thanks to a global pandemic have put the state system under more pressure than ever before. Now back for 2022, this highly physical, hugely funny and deceptively radical play will entertain both fans of the classic and newcomers.
Teechers Leavers ‘22 brings to the stage new iterations of original characters Salty, Gail and Hobby – who are departing Whitewall College for uncertain futures in uncertain times. Burn out, pregnancies, stress, affairs, depression; no-one is exempt, from the students, and security staff, to the business-minded Principal. Salty will be played by Doncaster-born Levi Payne, a rising star who returns to Hull Truck Theatre having been a member of its regional young actors ensemble between 2017-2018. His theatre credits include: Love Hurts (New Vic Theatre), Mother Courage (Red Ladder), When We Were Brothers (Freedom Studios) and TV/Film credits include: Brassic, Coronation Street, Pond Life (Open Palm Films).
Purvi Parmar will take on the role of Gail, coming straight from a run as part of the critically acclaimed cast of Say Yes to Tess – A New Musical (Theatre State/Leeds Playhouse). Other theatre credits for Purvi, who trained at the Pace University School of Performing Arts in NYC, include Peter Pan (Octagon Theatre, Bolton) and The Jungle Book, Pride and Prejudice, Merry Wives of Windsor (Storyhouse – Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre).
The character of Hobby will be played by Martha Godber, who recently originated the role of Cath in Sunny Side Up (UK Tour, John Godber Company), appearing alongside her father John Godber, and mother, Jane Thornton. This marks a welcome return to Hull for Martha who has also appeared in Great Adventures (Hull Truck Theatre), Up N Under (Hull New Theatre) and I Want That Hair (East Riding Theatre). Other theatre credits include Three Emos (UK Tour) and Little Malcolm And His Struggle Against The Eunuchs (Spotlight Prize). Screen credits include South Riding (BBC1), Oddsquad (BBC Television) and radio credits include House Rules (BBC Radio 4), Forget Me Not (BBC Sounds) and The Gift (BBC Radio 4).
John Godber OBE said: “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of Hull Truck Theatre’s 50th anniversary programme and it’s fitting to bring this production up to date and back to Hull where it all began. In some ways, so much has changed since I first brought this story to the stage more than 35 years ago – the rise of social media, mental health awareness, celebrity culture – but in other ways, much has remained the same. The pandemic acted as a magnifying glass – pulling into sharp focus all the ways in which our two-tier education system still puts both young people and teachers in the state system at a disadvantage.
“I think this story resonated so strongly with audiences across the world, as despite it having a very distinct Northern voice, it explored themes that were echoed globally. I hope this modern-day iteration will invite a new generation to take this story into their hearts, and once again shine a light on the incredible impact that exposure to the arts can have on young people and why it’s so important for arts to be funded and supported in schools, now more than ever.”
Mark Babych, Artistic Director at Hull Truck Theatre, added: “John Godber is one of the world’s most renowned and performed playwrights and his role in steering the direction of Hull Truck Theatre for more than 25 years cannot be underestimated. Teechers was first performed by Hull Truck Theatre Company at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1987 and has since been brought to life in theatres, village halls and classrooms across the world. This story embodies the importance the creative arts can play in unleashing the imaginations, ambitions and potential of young people – something that remains very much at the heart of our theatre. It’s the perfect way to continue our 50th anniversary programme, which recognises our history and looks to our future, and we look forward to welcoming audiences as we continue celebrating this milestone year.”
Tickets for Teechers Leavers ‘22 are on sale now by visiting the website or calling the Box Office on 01482 323638.
The full 50th anniversary programme can be viewed at www.hulltruck.co.uk