The audience almost always votes for him to stay in teaching.
That’s despite having seen the his one-man play in which he plays a teacher who is threatened with a knife, feeds hungry kids and is exposed to racist, sexist, islamophobic and xenophobic behaviour – not to mention the ignorance of other staff – all played out against a background of funding cuts and rising teacher stress.
“These experiences are not unique to me,” says English teacher Matthew Roberts, from Runcorn, whose play, Teach, has been running to rave reviews at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and ends tomorrow.
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“These are real experiences that teachers have, and they are explored and experienced live – away from the safety of text and tweets – with the immediacy of a live piece of theatre connecting wholeheartedly with empathy,” he adds.
Teaching laid bare on stage
At three separate stages in the play, the audience gets the chance to vote on whether the teacher should stay in the profession.
“Only once has there been an audience say 'leave' as a majority,” he says.
“They witness the zest to teach and the humanity to access creativity and imagination that helps shatter the ‘specification’ standards.”
The play, which Roberts describes as “a mirror to the profession” also reflects the positive side of teaching, and is written in rhymes, such as:
“Parents' evening gave the job a new meaning - kids beaming to say 'hello' - they had tried and wanted their parents and carers to know
“When I dare and they dare and we dare to witness the vulnerability of the TRY of a willingness to explore and a zest to learn more.”
The audience is “global,” says Roberts, and has included a headteacher from Los Angeles as well as social workers and nurses and doctors, and, of course, other teachers.
Comments after the show have included “what you have shared is precious,” “never lose your passion,” “be kind to yourself,” and "you need to be in a better-led school”.
Roberts, a teacher of 16 years, will also perform at a rally over school funding set to be attended by thousands of headteachers in Westminster on 27 September.
Your last chance to see TEACH at Surgeons Hall, Edinburgh, is at 4.05pm, tomorrow, 21 August 24. Click here for details.