After Class

By George F. Walker
Introduction by Wes Berger

After Class
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Sit your butt down and learn your three Rs: ranting, resisting, and respect.

In two new plays, Canada‘s king of black comedy takes on the failing education system. Both Parents Night and The Bigger Issue are set in public-school classrooms after hours and involve confrontations ... Read more


Overview

Sit your butt down and learn your three Rs: ranting, resisting, and respect.

In two new plays, Canada‘s king of black comedy takes on the failing education system. Both Parents Night and The Bigger Issue are set in public-school classrooms after hours and involve confrontations between stressed-out teachers and ticked-off parents. Both sympathize with embattled educators and evince Walker’s trademark understanding of poverty and the working classes. In both, Walker’s signature moves work: the audience feels simultaneously complicit in and righteously angry about injustice and inequity.

Parents Night finds grade-three teacher Nicole caught in the crossfire between John, an arrogant executive dad, and Rosie, a ballsy, low-income mom. Both are meeting with Nicole to express concerns for their children, but class warfare quickly erupts, and the kids’ behaviour turns out to be a reflection of their parents’ messed-up lives. A harried Nicole is dealing with troubles of her own, but she makes a brave attempt to discipline these overgrown brats.

The Bigger Issue covers the same ground but digs deeper. Suzy, a novice middle-school teacher, has been called onto the carpet by the principal, Irene, for physically accosting a violent student. But when the boy’s parents show up, it becomes clear that Jack and Maggie are a middle-class couple reduced to abject poverty; the real problem isn’t their son or the school but a dysfunctional society.

Together, Parents Night and The Bigger Issue comprise the first instalments in a projected play cycle similar to Walker’s famous Suburban Motel. With an introduction by Toronto director Wesley Berger.

George F. Walker

George F. Walker is one of Canada’s most prolific and widely produced playwrights. His work has been honoured with eight Chalmers Awards and five Dora Awards. His plays Criminals in Love and Nothing Sacred each won Governor General’s Awards for Drama. Productions of Nothing Sacred (1988) and Love and Anger (1990) have met with great success in the United States in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago. Zastrozzi has had over 100 productions in the English-speaking world. Problem Child, included in the anthology Suburban Motel (1998), won a Chalmers Award for Best New Play. Two packaged collections of Walker’s work were published in 1998: Somewhere Else (1998) and The East End Plays: Part Two (1998).

In 1999, Talonbooks released The East End Plays: Part One (which includes Criminals in Love, the Chalmer’s Award-winning Better Living, and Escape from Happiness) and The Power Plays (a collection containing Gossip, Filthy Rich, and The Art of War).

Many of Walker’s plays have been translated into German, French, Hebrew, Turkish, Polish and Czech. He has spent the past several years writing for television including CBS’s Due South and CBC’s The Newsroom.

Reviews

"As in all of Walker’s best work, there is a lot happening here on several levels. We laugh at the foibles of parents and teachers as Walker piles misfortune on coincidence on looming disaster. It is extremely funny and bitingly satirical. But then we are aware of a deep sadness under the surface. These are human beings struggling to survive against harsh odds and in the most taxing of circumstances. There is also abundant compassion for teachers. Deeper still is Walker’s smouldering anger at the floundering educational system and at a society that actively discriminates against the poor and the marginalized . .. extremely funny and bitingly satirical . .. see it and rejoice; a new George Walker cycle is something to be celebrated. " —Robert Crew, Toronto Star

"George F. Walker’s plays don’t allow audiences to simply sit back and be entertained. Satiric, questioning, occasionally absurd but always with sympathy for his characters, Walker focuses on our social frameworks and the ways we’re messed them up. " —Jon Kaplan, NOW Magazine

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