A comedy with class.
“Why did you become a high school teacher?” This question, posed by a journalism class to the faculty of a typical American high school, sets the scene for The Faculty Lounge, a hilarious and touching play by Kentucky playwright Teri Foltz. Foltz, herself a former secondary school teacher, takes audiences into the private inner sanctum of a high school faculty lounge where teachers relax, vent their frustrations and share their hopes, both for themselves and for their students. In a series of short scenes, five high school teachers share thoughts they would never utter in a classroom or a parent-teacher conference as they reflect on their reasons for becoming teachers. Five students also weave in and out of their stories, sometimes leaping in as memories from the past, as the teachers’ own experiences as high school students intersect with their present-day realities. As playwright Foltz once said about her former profession, “I am very serious about teaching, although I found many aspects of my career hilarious!” She also notes,”The best part of teaching for me was always the students. My head is crowded with faces and voices of young people who made me laugh, cry and think.” The Faculty Lounge gives us all a chance to experience the profound human connections that make up the life of a teacher — from silly to moving, from embarrassing to inspiring — and that can never be measured on a report card or a standardized test.
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It’s the end of the school year at a typical American high school. Five faculty members are unwinding in their inner sanctum, a private space that students and parents never see — the faculty lounge. But try as they might, these teachers aren’t quite able to relax. First, they’ve been given an assignment by a journalism class at their school. They have each been asked to write a short essay that answers the question “Why did you become a teacher?” Their responses will be published in the final edition of the school paper for the year. Second, they’ve all heard that budget cuts are coming to their school, and this may mean the loss of one teacher from the staff before the next school year starts.
Who will it be?
Their writing assignment – one that turns the tables on the teachers who must now grapple with the same kind of tasks they routinely assign their students — triggers a variety of responses among the teachers. Some are funny, some poignant and almost all prompt comments they would never make in front of a classroom or at a parent-teacher conference. Because this task must be completed by the end of the day, the teachers push themselves to come up with something… anything that will get the task behind them. The looming anxiety about possible staff cuts pushes their thoughts about the “whys” of their careers into more immediate and more serious territory. After all, perhaps they will need to re-think their professional choices soon, anyway.
The Faculty Lounge is a touching, hilarious and witty exploration of the all-too-human profession of teaching by Kentucky playwright Teri Foltz. Foltz, herself a former secondary school teacher, takes audiences into the private world of a high school faculty lounge where they meet five high school teachers who share their hopes and fears as well as their enthusiasms and their frustrations about their chosen profession.
Oil Lamp veteran Nicki Howard, last seen in OLT’s 2016 production Father of the Bride, plays tenured social studies teacher Becky Davis who wonders whether it might be time for her to retire. Blake Holen, last seen in OLT’s production of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, is science teacher Nick Lanford who worries that he may have crossed the line of appropriate behavior with one of his female students. Morgan Dixon plays English and Drama teacher Emily Walsh who can’t decide whether to continue teaching or pursue her dream of a life on the stage. Steve Smith is math teacher and coach Dylan Lawrence who worries that a recent losing season might put him in jeopardy. Takesha Meshe Kizart is Megan Spencer, a family and consumer science teacher – and mother of two – whose enthusiasm for her job is strained by anxiety that, as the school’s “Home Ec” teacher, her position might be considered expendable and therefore an easy target if cuts are made.
Woven into and out of these stories are five students whose lives are touched by the teachers. These young people leap into the teachers’ stories, either as reflections of their current classroom concerns or as memories from their past when they themselves were high-school students. These five students whose lives intersect with their teacher’s experiences are played by Jayson Lee, Elizabeth Wigley, Emmaline Skillicorn, Emily Dyer and Miles Andrew Weimer.
As playwright Foltz once said about her former profession, “I am very serious about teaching, although I found many aspects of my career hilarious!” She also notes, “The best part of teaching for me was always the students. My head is crowded with the faces and voices of young people who made me laugh, cry and think.”
In The Faculty Lounge, Ms Foltz offers a hilarious and heartfelt peek into the lives of men and women who spend their days teaching our kids. The play takes us into a part of the teaching profession that non-teachers rarely see – a place where the commitment and passion of idealistic educators is all too often frustrated by overwork, regulations and the emotional and intellectual stress of daily student contact.
But despite these challenges, playwright Foltz shows that teaching is about relationships – relationships that might at times seem clumsy and embarrassing, but that ultimately help children grow into the mature and knowledgeable adults who will one day shape the world.
Director – Keith Gerth
Assistant Director – Steve Smith
Stage Manager – Lara Caprini
Emily - English Teacher
Dylan - Math Teacher and Football Coach
Nick - Science Teacher
Becky - Social Studies Teacher
Megan - Family and Consumer Science Teacher
Takesha Meshe Kizart
Miles Andrew Weimer