BATS Theatre, Wellington

02/02/2016 - 13/02/2016

Production Details

Discharge is going back to school!

Join the award-winning, all-female comedy troupe Discharge as they explore one of the strangest times in a young person’s life: high school! Meet a variety of characters from fictional all-girls high school, Eastland High, as five actresses take on a host of memorable characters, inspired by their collective high school experiences.

Relive the acne, awkwardness and unnecessary drama with none of the psychological damage in Discharge’s latest, original comedy, premiering at BATS Theatre (Feb. 3 – Feb. 13) as part of the 2016 New Zealand Fringe Festival.

Discharge Goes Back to School is an exciting new departure from the sketch-based comedies of the groups’ prior work. This original work has been written and devised by the cast, and will be told through a series of monologues from a variety of memorable characters, including the sassy janitor, the untouchable head girl, and a home-schooled student forced to take P.E lessons.

Head-writer Abby Howells is particularly excited about the monologue format “because it allows for a huge range of women’s voices to be heard, as each performer plays multiple characters in the play.”

Howells acknowledges multiple inspirations for the concept of the show, including the strong characters of Summer Heights’ High and Toa Fraser’s Bare, which Howells describes as “one of my favourite New Zealand plays.” From friendship, to body-image and young relationships, “Discharge Goes Back to School” promises to offer a fresh take on the sometimes-wonderful, sometimes-awkward high school years. 

Discharge Goes Back to School is the fifth show from award-winning comedy troupe Discharge. Their previous productions have included What is this, Woman’s Hour?, Benedict Cumberbatch Must Die, Mary’s Christmas and 28 Days: A Period Piece.

What the reviews said:

“…Perceptive wit and subtle satire” – 28 Days, A Period Piece (Theatreview)

“Lively and unpretentious … ” (“What is this, Woman’s Hour?”, Theatreview)

“An hour of hugely carried short and sharp laugh-so-hard-you’ll-piss-your-pants type sketches … ” (“What is this, Woman’s Hour?”, Theatreview)

“Laugh-out-loud…highly entertaining character-based comedy … ” (“Benedict Cumberbatch Must Die”, Theatreview)

“The audience roared its approval throughout … ” (“Benedict Cumberbatch Must Die”, The Dominion Post)

Discharge Goes Back to School is on at
BATS Theatre at 6:30pm
from 2- 13 February.
Adults $18 | Concession/ Student $14 | Fringe Addict $12 
Book tickets online at bats.co.nz.

Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dischargecollective/?fref=ts

Abby Howells 
Heidi Geissler 
Josephine Byrnes
Harriet Hughes
Alayne Dick

STAGE MANAGER & Video Director (FB page) : Rosie Howells

Theatre ,

Humour, trauma and angst

Review by Ewen Coleman 10th Feb 2016

The last day of school can be sheer bliss for pupils, but a nightmare for teachers. That’s the premise of Discharge Productions’ latest offering, currently being performed early evenings at Bats Theatre – Discharge Goes Back To School.

Through a series of monologues, five women act out the roles of pupils and teachers on the last day of term.  Through each, we see the humour, trauma and angst of those leaving and what the school year has meant to them and the impact it has had on the staff. [More


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Light comedy with a twinge of pathos

Review by John Smythe 03rd Feb 2016

Another comedic outbreak of Discharge graces the BATS Propeller Stage until Saturday. While it predominantly involves solo monologues, there is cross-contagion in the story-lines, the cast of five intermingle quite often and their trademark broad characterisations and performance style remains.

The school bell instantly presses whatever emotional buttons reconnect us to our own high school experiences as the stage is festooned with students from Eastland Girls High. The scenes that emerge incorporate the cast’s own autobiographical stories. Six writers are credited (see above), with Abby Howells designated ‘head writer’.

The cast’s uniform is white blouse and grey skirt, and a spotted neck scarf is used to denote an adult character: initially the Principal – played by director Heidi Geissler – whose revered role model is Oprah Winfrey. Her ‘note to self’ could be: a little less ‘Acting’ could make this character more engaging.

It soon becomes apparent this is the last school day of 2015. The Principal’s succinct review of the year suggests a ‘could do much better’ report card overall, with much-valued participation winning out over actual achievement.

Home-schooled Hebe only comes to the school for PE. Abby Howell’s manifestation of her social awkwardness is all the more engaging for the way it makes us want to discover what her real wants and needs are.

Bri is the always-in-trouble brat, made all-too real by Harriet Hughes. While each of us may judge her in different ways, it would be a hard heart indeed which had no compassion for her by the end of the show. This day after opening night, Hebe and Bri are the characters who linger longest in my consciousness.

Josephine Byrnes triples impressively as the intimidating maths teacher (Mrs Jordan), the hyper-bright and always-friendly Head Girl (Gretta) and a circumspect girl called Philippa who comes to the aid of Geissler’s self-involved non-listener, Ellyn. Geissler’s third character, Rhonda, a desultory cleaner avid for gossip, is played with welcome minimalism.  

Alayne Dick’s super-keen sports nut and multi-nominated Jessie is not dissimilar, in energy, to Maggie (year 9), who wants to master Michael Jackson moves as a friend’s farewell gift. Her long-suffering receptionist, Karen, is well contrasted however.

Initially this wealth of characters come across as stereotypes but in some cases – more with the girls than the adults – we catch glimpses of hidden dimensions which, with some other good twists, add immeasurably to the interest and entertainment factor.

As light comedy with a twinge of pathos, most of us will relate to Discharge Goes Back to School as it plays out now. The comic style is what we have come to expect from this troupe; it is what it is. Is it fair, then, to expect – or should I say want – more from these undoubtedly talented people?

Having witnessed the potential present in Benedict Cumberbatch Must Die (June 2014), I cannot pretend I am not hoping for something more substantial from playwright Abby Howells at least, whether or not it’s a Discharge production. No pressure … 


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