Wolves are to Sheep What Teachers are to…

I have a lot of friends who are teachers, or want to be teachers, or are studying to be teachers. I’m even considering it myself. The funny thing about this decision to cross the line of identity from student to instructor, from one of many names on a class list to the one reading those names aloud to take attendance, is the realization that you are no different from all of your teachers of past, and vice-versa. They fall prey to the same amount of human insecurities, jealousies, imperfections, and suffering as anyone (if not more, due to the fact they’re a teacher in America). Of course, this commonality may be obvious to some, but what’s interesting is it potentially calls into question the entire educational system, from principal on down; after all, how can one teach the tools of life when those very same tools have proven dull and useless in their own lives?

This is the thematic conundrum that concerns Joseph Fisher’s new play, A Wolf Inside the Fence, which makes its world premiere this Friday, August 13th, at the Open Fist Theatre, as directed by Benjamin Burdick.

The protagonist, Linus McBride (Arthur Hanket), is a high-school history teacher with a history of his own: his father recently passed away, he’s burning out on his own subject, his classes are being cut by the school system, and he may just be going crazy. This is when he meets Marion (Charlotte Chanler), an at-risk transfer student with a chip on her shoulder, who begins to make regular visits to Linus’s classroom, asking questions about history. But the play doesn’t take the expected Oleanna or An Education route. Instead, the two develop a bond based on their shared troubled pasts. This relationship is further complicated when the school principal, Judy Bench (Amanda Weir), gets involved, fueled by her own personal interest in the young Marion—and growing lack of interest in her math teacher boyfriend, Harold Carson (Colin Walker).

Witty and tragic, deep and yet simple, the layering of teacher-student-principal interaction that follow are not to be missed. Because if those can’t do, teach, then those who teach must be a lot more interesting than their doer counterparts.

- By Joshua Morrison

Joseph Fisher’s A Wolf Inside the Fence runs until Septemer 11th at the Open Fist Theatre, which is located at 6209 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood. For more information, please visit www.openfist.org, or call 323.882.6912.

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