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Retired Highlands Teacher Pens Play that Takes You Inside "The Faculty Lounge"

The stories you are about to see are true. The names have been changed to protect – the innocent, the guilty, the foolish, the defeated, the victorious.
 
It’s Faculty Lounge, a new play by Teri Foltz, who grew up in Ft. Thomas, graduated from Highlands High School, spent 23 years of her teaching career at Highlands and continues to live in Fort Thomas in a very busy retirement.
 
Foltz is self-producing her play at The Carnegie, with a big boost from a Kickstarter campaign. It plays three performances, 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. She promises “every scenario is true,“ either from her own experience or those of fellow “faculty lounge lizards.”
 
The show’s quick 37 scenes are filled with touchstones for everyone who went to high school: the girl with the crush on her teacher; the student who feels invisible, and can’t figure out “how to explain what I don’t know.” The kid who’s so depressed he contemplates suicide.
 
There’s also “the day I wore my pants inside-out,” Foltz confessed, laughing. 
 
And a pointing finger at “teaching by test scores” which has a lot to do with Foltz’ message. “Teaching is individual and about relationships,” she says. “The more prescribed it is, the more it loses its passion and heart.”
 
There’s plenty of passion in her voice when she talks about teaching. Foltz sat down before a rehearsal last week at Italianette Pizza in Silverton, just a couple doors from Women Writing for a Change, where Foltz has been a member since 2011 and where she was encouraged to try her hand at putting her stories in play form.
 
“I’ve always been a writer,” Foltz said, not surprising for a 30-plus year veteran of teaching English and theater. It turn out she was taking mental notes the entire time. 
 
Teaching an elective (drama), Foltz had an opportunity to consider ironies. “When your career depends on whether teenagers like you – that’s weird.”
 
She also did a stint as a stand-up comic after the school day ended. That path started when Foltz would sit in the audience to applaud a student trying his luck. Then she was given a gift certificate for Funnybone Comedy Club. Instead of buying tickets, Foltz bought a stand-up class. 
 
In no time she was at the open mic, trying out material at Go Bananas Comedy Club. The most popular, Foltz laughed, “was about teachers.” Some of the material lives on in Faculty Lounge.
 
She’s been refining the show through readings and workshops. Five teachers represent educators everywhere – the older guy who teaches phys. ed. and advanced math; the younger guy who teaches science, women who stand in front of the class teaching social studies; family and consumer science (a.k.a. home ec.) and, of course, English/theater.
 
The drama connecting the play: two-thirds of a faculty position has to be eliminated. (The two-thirds is one of Foltz’s theatrical comments on the lunacies of the educational system.) One of the faculty loungers will lose their job by the end of the school day.
 
Faculty Lounge has a reunion aspect to it. Danny Davies, long-time popular community theater actor, directs – “We taught next door to each other for years at Bellevue High School back when we were young, fearless teachers,” Foltz says fondly.
 
The cast of 10 (five actors play students, parents and everyone else) include four of Foltz’ former students: Chris Payne, Melissa Keller, Laura Petracco and Brian Kremer.
 
These last weeks, Foltz says with a grin, “My life is back to ‘you have to be somewhere in 15 minutes.’”
 
That won’t change anytime soon. The Carnegie production has been almost three years in the making – and is not the end but the beginning of the next part of the journey. Foltz determined she needed a production to get reviews so she can send the script on to play competitions and theaters across the U.S. 
 
She also has two new scripts underway. She offered off-the-record concepts for both and they both sound like winners.
 
About the title – “It was supposed to be ‘Teachers’ Lounge’ – but nobody knew where to put the apostrophe.”
 
Faculty Lounge, 8 p.m. Oct. 9-11, The Carnegie, 1028 Scot Blvd., Covington. Tickets $15. 859-491-2030 and www.thecarnegie.com.
 
Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts