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The Primary English Class

The Primary English Class
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Israel Horovitz
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service (cover may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 82
Pub. Date: 1976
Edition: Acting
ISBN-10: 0822209136
ISBN-13: 9780822209133
Cast Size: 4 female, 5 male

About the Play:

The Primary English Class has long been a favourite of acting teachers for Female Monologues.

The Primary English Class is a full-length play by Israel Horovitz. It is the first night of a course designed to give recent immigrants a nodding acquaintance with their new language. Out of the melting pot and into an empty classroom drip five students (and a janitor) none of whom has any language in common with the others. Nor, it turns out, does their late-arriving terribly under-qualified English language teacher. The Primary English Class is an hilarious comedy of true originality.

The Primary English Class is set in a classroom where an eager young teacher is about to tackle her first assignment – teaching basic English to a group of new citizens, not one of whom speaks the same language as another. Included are an excitable Italian, an over-eager Frenchman, a near-sighted German, an elderly Chinese woman and a Japanese girl. The one thing that they manage to convey to each other is that their respective names all mean "wastebasket" but, struggle as she will, the teacher, Debbie Wastba, is hard-pressed to bring them beyond this point of communication. Fortunately the voice of an off-stage translator enables the audience to understand what those on-stage cannot comprehend, but this does not help the sorely pressed Debbie, whose frustration is increased by her fear of a mugger lurking outside the door. Rigid and pedagogical at first, she becomes more frantic and desperate as her lack of success with her charges mounts, and the wonderfully funny misunderstandings multiply, until, at last, all self-control (and sanity) vanish into total, and totally hilarious, panic. The Primary English Class is a actually a comment on the insensitivity to other cultures.

The Primary English Class premiered in 1976 at the Circle in the Square off-Broadway in New York City, and starred Diane Keaton who captivated critics and audiences alike when she returned to the New York stage in the role of the teacher. The Canadian premiere was in 1976 by Toronto's Open Circle Theatre. The play was so successful in Toronto that it toured throughout Canada for over two years. This off-beat comedy has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops and has been produced around the world.

Cast: 4 female, 5 male

What people say:

"…a gem of an idea…a soufflé with a clever recipe and a taste you will not forget in a hurry." — New York Times

"Wonderfully funny, gloriously observant…." — New York Magazine

"…the playwright has erected a comic Tower of Babel that has the audience in stitches." — The Hollywood Reporter

"…a tour de force of stunning originality." — Village Voice

About the Playwright:

Israel Horovitz (1939-2020) was an American playwright, director, and actor who first came to prominence in the counterculture melting pot of Greenwich Village in the winter of 1967-68, with four critically acclaimed plays produced Off Broadway. Since then, nearly 70 Horovitz plays have been performed throughout the USA, and dozens have been translated and performed in as many as 25 languages, worldwide. He won numerous awards, including the OBIE (twice), the Emmy, Priz du Plaisir de theatre (for Line In Paris), Prix du Jury (Cannes Film Festival), the New York Drama Desk Award, and Award in Literature of The American Academy of Arts and Letters, The Eliot Norton Prize, and many others.

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