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    Up the Down Staircase

    Up the Down Staircase

    Presented by The Western Stage at The Western Stage at Hartnell College

    May 6-May 22, 2011

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    When Bel Kaufman’s debut novel “Up the Down Staircase” hit the bookstores in 1965, her story about a young, idealistic English teacher struggling through the first year of teaching in a gritty inner-city public school became an instant sensation, selling 6.5 million copies, and prompting Time magazine to call the book “easily the most popular novel about US public schools in history.” Beginning May 6, The Western Stage presents Christopher Sergel’s adaptation of this classic story, which promises to be as thought provoking as it is entertaining, especially when one realizes the issues documented by this piece — overcrowded classrooms, deteriorating facilities, emotionally damaged students, limited resources, and a frazzled staff struggling to hold everything together — may be even more pressing today than they were half a century ago.

    Drawing on her own 20 years of experience as a public school teacher, Kaufman’s story focuses on Sylvia Barnett, a new and enthusiastic English teacher at Calvin Coolidge High School in New York City, who wants to make a real difference in the lives of her students by teaching them about great literature. Instead, she quickly finds her idealism challenged by both indifferent students and an administration whose authoritarianism borders on the absurd, punishing students for even the slightest infractions like climbing up the down staircase instead of the up staircase.

    At 99 years old, Kaufman is still an active writer and teacher. She was recently hired as a professor at her alma mater, Hunter College, where she teaches courses on Jewish humor. Poised to enjoy her centennial birthday during her first semester of instruction, she will be one of the oldest active college professors alive.

    “Up the Down Staircase” is directed by Jeff McGrath whose previous TWS credits include “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” (2003) and “Footloose” (2011). The design team includes David Parker (Scenic), John Englehorn (Lighting), Tomas Reyes (Sound), and Christina Perez (Costumes).

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      • Venue Info

        The Western Stage at Hartnell College

        411 Central Ave
        Salinas, CA 93901

        Full map and directions

      • Admission Info


        Adult: $20
        Junior/Senior/Military: $17

        Info Phone: (831) 755-6816

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      • Dates & Times

        May 6-May 22, 2011


        Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the studio theatre, Hartnell College Performing Arts Building.

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