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The Bush Theatre is delighted to announce that Downton Abbey's Joanne Froggatt and Brick Lane's Christopher Simpson will be starring in The Schools Season: The Knowledge by John Donnelly and Little Platoons by Steve Waters. In response to one of the most urgent and divisive issues of our times, the season brings together an ensemble company of 11 actors and a series of talks, debates and events which will examine education in Britain today.

Steve Waters and John Donnelly have written two very different plays about the current education system which will run in rep. John Donnelly's The Knowledge is a sharp and shocking account of a failing school, whilst Steve Waters' Little Platoons is being written in response to the first acts of the coalition government and aims to examine the motivation behind a group of parents starting their own free school in West London.

Joanne Froggatt, best known for role in Downton Abbey, has appeared in numerous TV, film and stage productions including All About My Mother at The Old Vic, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the Royal Exchange Theatre and Be My Baby at Soho Theatre Company.

On screen she has appeared in Identity, Life on Mars, Island at War, Coronation Street and BAFTA Award winning drama See No Evil: The Moors Murderers.

Christopher Simpson's theatre work includes Fallujah at Truman Brewery and The Bacchae of Baghdad at The Abbey. He has also starred in feature films Ever Here I Be and Brick Lane.

Evolving throughout the run of The Schools Season is the What Do You Want? campaign where 1000 young people from the local community will be asked what they want from school and the education system. The collated responses will be displayed in the foyer of the Bush Theatre. What Do You Want? will have both a physical and a digital life with the conversation continuing via facebook, twitter and youtube.

A series of debates on the issues raised by The Knowledge and Little Platoons will take place to accompany the shows with panels of key figures involved in the education system today.

Toby Young, who himself is in the process of setting up one of the UK's first free schools, has provided valuable resource material for Steve Waters' Little Platoons. Through this collaboration the Bush have invited Toby to co-produce a response piece to the play with playwright Adam Brace of Stovepipe. This will be performed after Little Platoons on selected evenings.

Designed by Signe Beckmann, lighting by Mark Doubleday and sound by Tom Gibbons.


By John Donnelly

Director: Charlotte Gwinner

12 January - 19 February 2011
Press Night: Monday 17 January at 7.00pm

Being a teacher means weekends. It means thirteen weeks holiday. It means a secure job in uncertain times. But new teacher Zoe doesn't want to sleep with the Head of Science and she doesn't want to teach a group of kids how to cope with life, because that's something Zoe's not sure she knows how to do herself.

John Donnelly's new play examines what happens to a young teacher in a failing school. Shocking, revealing and darkly funny, the writer draws on his own experience from working in schools.

John Donnelly has worked in various primary and secondary schools across London, Essex and Kent, including programmes aimed at curriculum development, Irish and Romany Travellers, enterprise, literacy, sex education, addictions, student voice, BSF, L2L, SEN, CPD, G&T and other acronyms. His previous plays include, Bone (Royal Court Theatre), Poll Tax

Riots (Hampstead Theatre) and Songs of Grace and Redemption (Theatre 503). He is a past winner of both the PMA Award for Best New Writer and the NSDF Sunday Times Playwriting Award.

Charlotte Gwinner is an Associate Director at the Bush Theatre. For the Bush she directed Little Dolls as part of the Broken Space Season. Previous directing credits include; Commercial Rd, The Sea At Night (Hackney Empire); Knives and Hens (Bath Theatre Royal); The Confederate (Paines Plough/Trafalgar Studios); Men Should Weep (Oxford Stage Company/The Citizens Theatre/Dundee Rep).


By Steve Waters

Director: Nathan Curry

19 January - 19 February 2011
Press Night: Monday 24 January at 3.00pm

A group of West London parents are driven by desperation to take the new government up on their offer and start their own free school. They want to create an education that their children will enjoy rather than endure. But as they find their lives given over to a disturbing version of the Big Society, their fervour turns to panic.

Free schools are getting ready to transform from policy idea to classroom reality. But what do we know about them? This dark new comedy explores what the growth of people-power might actually mean and why the British middle-classes are all so obsessed with education.

Steve Waters' previous work for the Bush Theatre includes The Contingency Plan (On the Beach and Resilience) which was shortlisted for 2009 John Whiting Award. Other plays include, Fast Labour (Hampstead Theatre in association with West Yorkshire Playhouse), World Music (Sheffield Crucible and Donmar), The Unthinkable (Sheffield Crucible), English Journeys and After the Gods (Hampstead Theatre).

Nathan Curry is an Associate Director at the Bush Theatre. For the Bush Theatre he directed Bufonidae by Bryony Lavery as part of the Broken Space Season. Nathan is the Artistic Director of the theatre ensemble tangled feet. He also developed Movieplex, an interactive outdoor experience with The National Theatre Studio and Nutkhut Theatre Company.

Bush Theatre, Shepherds Bush Green, London, W12 8QD

Box Office: 020 8743 5050

The Knowledge and Little Platoons

Seat prices

7.30pm £15 / £7.50 concessions
Post Press nights
7.30pm £20 / £10 concessions
2.30pm £15 / £7.50 concessions
Equity Nights 7.30pm, £15 for equity members
Audio Described Performances 2.30pm, £15 / £7.50 concessions
Captioned Performances, 2.30pm, £15 / £7.50 concessions

Performance dates The Knowledge
25, 26, 31 January, 1, 5, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 19 February
12-15 January
29 January, 12 February
Post show panel discussions

Teachers to Playwrights - 25 January (this is also Equity Night)

Exclusion - 31 January

Equity Night
25 January
Audio Described Performance
29 January
Captioned performance
12 February

Performance dates Little Platoons
27, 28, 29 January, 2, 3, 4, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18 February
19-22 January
5, 19 February
Post show panel discussion

300,000 young people without a place - 3 February

Equity Night

27 January

Audio Described Performance
5 February
Captioned Performance
4 February


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