ARRANGED too late for inclusion in York Theatre Royal 'sspring and summer brochure, John Godber's Teechers nevertheless definitely will be there from Tuesday to June 1 with lessons in school life.

Presented in association with the York theatre, this Gala Theatre, Durham production goes back to school in 1984, penned by former teacher Godber for one of his early Hull Truck hits, but its schoolroom milieu abides in today's overstretched corridors.

Teechers follows the idealistic path of a new drama teacher through his perilous first days at a stagnating Yorkshire comprehensive school.

His story is seen through the eyes of three school leavers, Salty, Hobby and Gail, who decide to perform an end-of-term "school report" of their secondary years as a tribute to his ability to ignite their passion for the stage with his enthusiasm and belief in their abilities.

Teechers brings to life the school bully, feared by teachers and pupils alike; Barry, the boy who never brings his PE kit; and the headmistress, whose main priority is the annual, all-too-arid Gilbert and Sullivan production. The teachers are as ambivalent and mixed up as the pupils; everyone is counting down the days until they can escape.

Director Tom Wright and designer Hannah Sibai are reunited after staging last year's production of Jim Cartwright’s Two at the Gala. Hannah, by the way, also designed The Elves And The Shoemakers in the York Theatre Royal Studio last Christmas.

Tom's mother was a drama teacher in York before she retired, and so he identifies with the plot. "As I was growing up, I got to watch the difference my mum made to young people’s lives," he says. "This was a school where the only potential employers who bothered to turn up to careers day were the Armed Forces and fast-food chains.

"The world told these young people again and again that their lives didn’t matter, and there was my mother telling them that they did matter, and opening up a world of imagination and self-expression.

"Now, more than ever before, drama and the arts in general are under attack in the state education system. This play is all about that; valuing each student and giving the gift of imagination, in a way which is playful and frequently hilarious."

The cast comprises north easterner Sarah Boulter; Louis Roberts, a Teesside graduate of Northumberland Theatre Company’s InterACT schem, and Mahsa Hammat Bahary, who graduated last year from Project A, an intensive acting course at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal, since when she has played the lead role of Farida in the short film Falling.

Teechers' 7.30pm evening performances will be complemented by 2.30pm Thursday and 2pm Saturday matinees. Tickets are on sale on 01904 623568, at or in person from the Theatre Royal box office.

Charles Hutchinson