The Payson High School drama department will close its 2000-2001 season with "Class Dismissed" a two-act comedy that offers "a powerful commentary on classroom apathy." Evening performances will be held at 7:30 Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, with a Friday matinee at 2 p.m.
The play is set in classroom 208 of Central High School, a typical English classroom. The walls are adorned with posters of animals with philosophical sayings.
An American flag hangs next to a large bulletin board, and the clock on the wall seems to move at a snail's pace. If you're not back in high school squirming in that hard wooden seat yet, you will be when you hear Mrs. Banks say, "As you remember, you're assignment for today was to write a two-paragraph essay describing what you think Shakespeare was like based on the works we've read in class."
Mrs. Banks, a resourceful high school English teacher, is played by PHS senior Laura Perham, with sophomore Andrew Steedman portraying her husband, Mr. Banks, a school counselor who firmly believes in a new counseling philosophy that leaves the missis cold. Senior Megan Lower plays burnt-out English teacher Grace Burstyn, sophomore Randy Perham plays class clown Bobby Neiderman and junior Erica Thompson plays T.V. reporter Leslie Vance.
The new counseling method, Mr. Banks explains, is a variation of Scope, the mouthwash. "Take off the 'S,'" he says, "and you've got COPE, the brainwash a simplistic equation for temporary happiness" that involves doing something totally against your nature.
You know Mrs. Banks is approaching the brink with her reply to Bobby's inquiry, "What is life?" Instead of her usual equanimity, she snaps, "It's a magazine. Now shut up."
But what pushes her right over the edge is the principal selling out to the star athlete who is about to get a big scholarship despite the fact that he can't even read.
"There's a contradiction in there somewhere, and you know it," she bellows.
When it's all over and the action is winding down, Mrs. Banks returns to Bobby's question about the meaning of life.
"I don't know what life is," she says. "But I do know what it's not."
After explaining her realization, a dismissed class walks away with a new perspective of, and appreciation for, what really matters a lesson the audience takes away as well.
"Class Dismissed" will be performed in the PHS studio theatre directly behind the school auditorium. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for students and seniors, and $1 for Renaissance cardholders. Thespians will be admitted free with a membership card.