Those who can’t teach review

21 05 2010

Originally staged in 1990, Director Alvin Tan and Playwirght Haresh Sharma returned to reinvent and revamp the play into a comtemporary classic. The Play revloves around a particular teacher’s experiences and branches out to her fellow educators, her students her personal life and the personal lives of those around her. Various Themes were explored such as Teacher-Parent relationships, self-discovery, the need to fit in and the idea of elitism among both teachers, students and the entire education system.
The orriginal set was of a staff room. There were elevated platforms from centre stage right all the way to center stage left and down stage left which elevated the tables and chairs in the respective areas. Down stage centre there was a long table as well. Along the cyclorama, lifted about 2 meters of the ground were white sign boards with a few of them suggesting what the education system is all about. Along the play, there were several set changes, platforms were rolled out and replaced with other platforms with other types of furniture like sofa’s or louge chair to suggest a change in scene. Most scene changes were shown through these set changes. Lighting and sound played more major parts when required, for example a purple light was used to indicated that Mrs Phua was dreaming about teaching in an elite school and having perfect students or when prom came about or Ms Hana’s wedding was being performed.

As for acting, there is no way to really compare anything. Everyone had strong characterisation considering 4 out of the 5 cast members played multiple roles, everyone had a strong pressence on stage and each showed how their respective characters transitioned. It is something I think I can take back, having a strong transition and showing how my character develops over time. The one person who had suffient amount of ‘airtime’ to show this was Ian Tan’s character, Tek Liang. His character transitioned from a smart bad boy to a smart boy without his original girlfriend and feeling empty inside. His greatest transition was in Act 2 where the signboards along the cyclorama suggested how the education system may not be suitable or there was a lack of education for some students.

If there was a lesson- a life lesson- that I learnt by watching this performance was when Jali got his O level results in Act 1 and his teacher, Mrs Phua says that he should resit the O levels after failing and one day her will return and thank her and all his teacher and later in Act 2 about 15 years later, he comes back to see his teacher, Mrs Phua and explains that he did take the O levels again and failed…again and he went on to to several jobs that fit his qualifications, showing how the education system and exams may not be the way to be considered successful. And it is sad that there are people no matter how much they believe in themselves and work hard.

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