SALT LAKE CITY — Wasatch Theater Company’s production of the new play Teacher Truths, by Jim Martin, is such an endearing experience. The playwright’s note calls it an “amalgamation of truths” expressed through monologues based on teachers’ experiences that Martin has come across during his own teaching career. Nine different main characters tell a wide variety of “truths” in the show, and they all invoke their own unique emotion.
Some of the cast members are teachers in their real lives, in addition to playing teachers on stage—a sort of long-term way to method act. The teachers of Teacher Truths are easy to relate to; they are the people that I saw every day while growing up. Hearing how Daniel James Foster’s character bribed students with food for standardized tests was believable. Kayla Kelly’s character struggling to help young kids with Zoom was timely. And when Kiersten Honaker’s character said, “I don’t recommend that you teach your passion,” it was almost therapeutic. Honaker’s performance was enlightening as well; it is a nice touch to include teachers admitting that they maybe should not be teaching.
Of course, as theater via Zoom is new territory for everyone, there were a few minor technical difficulties. Other than the standard struggles with the mute/camera buttons, it is evident that in this—and other Zoom productions—that long pauses with no talking or movement make it seem like the video is cutting out, rather than giving the intended dramatic effect. And having music in the background to create tension can be tricky, because, although the chosen pieces were lovely, it began to make the actors a little difficult to hear towards the end of the production. These are things all theater companies are working around right now, and the way director Mindy K. Curtis and stage manager Megan Bishop made it work in this production is praiseworthy. Overall, the glitches amounted to simply minor distractions.
The big question I was left with at the end of the show was why, in the world of the play, each teacher was filming their stories. Early on, it is clear that they have been asked by someone to do this, but it gets a little confusing when one teacher is talking to other people the audience can see, while another teacher is having a one-sided conversation with students that the audience cannot see. Kathleen Green’s monologue seemed much shorter than the rest, leaving questions I had about her situation unanswered. (Maybe I was just enjoying her story so much that the time flew by?)
Overall, Teacher Truths left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart. Minor hiccups that come with any new play aside, I loved hearing the stories of all these teachers. The monologues were written in such a way that I could easily dislike some of the teachers, but love how realistically they were characterized. In any large group of fictional people, it is inevitable to love some characters and hate others, but rarely can the audience pick up so quickly exactly what kind of people they are.