A Public Education, Jeff Talbott‘s peek inside the faculty lounge of an American high school, gets a Manhattan reading directed by Wes Grantom June 11-12 in the NewTACTics Festival of New Plays presented by Off-Broadway’s TACT/The Actors Company Theatre.
The cast includes TACT company members Kelly McAndrew and Liv Rooth alongside Ephraim Birney, Ted Koch, Will Rogers and Heather Alicia Simms. Alexander Hajjar is stage manager. Kyra Bromberg reads stage directions. Director Wes Grantom is fresh off Slant Theatre Project’s world premiere of Matt Moses The Cloud.
The 29-hour reading leads to free public readings at 7 PM June 11-12 at the TACT Studio at 900 Broadway. Reservations are required.
Here’s how the play is characterized: “Luke Paxton [Will Rogers] is the new guy in the faculty room and he can’t wait to get started. But between his fellow teachers, a troubled student and some really nasty things being said on the Internet, it’s hard for anybody to concentrate on classes. This is the world of A Public Education, a timely comic drama where the big question is: who is really getting schooled?”
Will Rogers appeared in the world premiere of Talbott’s award-winning The Submission, produced Off-Broadway by MCC Theater.
Talbott, an actor-writer who is also a TACT company member, said in a playwright’s note: “I have many friends and family members who are educators, and doing their difficult job well is one of the true heroic efforts at work in our society today. Much has been written about how beleaguered they are, and with good reason; they are set upon from seemingly every side: low pay (which we can’t seem to fix), high expectations (from parents, from students, from themselves), and a sometimes impenetrable system to navigate just to get to the kids. A couple of years ago, I interviewed several dozen educators in an anonymous survey to get as much candor as possible, and then looked at their informative and fantastic responses and tried to figure out how they fit into a play. As I don’t know what I have to offer on the system itself, I took their responses and used them as ballast to give a workplace story both authenticity and inspiration, and began to explore our current fascination with the apparently bottomless plethora of anonymous opinion to be found on the ever-expanding world wide web. A Public Education is the little story I found begging me to help it find voice. I love these teachers and this kid; hopefully I’m doing them justice.”
A Public Education had its first public reading earlier this year as part of Pioneer Theatre Company‘s inaugural Play-By-Play series of new play readings in Salt Lake City. (Shana Gold directed.) Read the earlier interview in which Talbott discusses the roots and goals of the play.
Talbott graduated with honors from the Yale School of Drama. His play The Submission was the inaugural recipient of the Laurents/Hatcher Award in 2011 and was produced Off-Broadway by MCC Theater; it also received the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for Outstanding New American Play in 2012. The play was a semi-finalist for the 2010 O’Neill Playwrights Conference and it was in the final round of consideration for the 2010 New Play Summit at the Denver Center. Since its premiere, it has had productions all over the country. His play All the Stars in the Midnight Sky was a part of NewTACTics in 2013. His one-acts For Nate and Molly and Tender both received world premiere productions by the Yale Cabaret. He lives in New York City and is currently working on an original musical with Will Van Dyke.
TACT’s co-artistic directors are Scott Alan Evans, Cynthia Harris and Jenn Thompson. Associate producer Lauren Miller curates NewTACTics. Learn more about Off-Broadway’s TACT at tactnyc.org.