Life Class depicts a crucial day in the life of an art school teacher named Allott, as he aims to lead his class through the processes of discovery that will turn their sketches into artworks, but which instead lead only to troubling scenes and crossed boundaries.
Writing in the introduction to Storey Plays: 3, David Storey says: ‘Allott (a lot: munificence) is an art teacher in a northern provincial art school (I had attended one such, at Wakefield, in my late teens). Conceived as something not unakin to an existential Prospero, he creates, as if with the audience’s participation, a class, or “event” – in his designation, an “invisible event” since the participants are not consciously aware of their involvement. The materials of this event (or performance: his self-declared “work of art”) are, as for most artists, those of his daily existence: in this instance, a group of (largely) unsympathetic (and conceivably ungifted) youths who, for one reason or another – fortuity – have found their way into what might be described as his allegorised arena (i.e., onto his “canvas”) – a phenomenological act, and perception, which, Allott concludes, is, like all “art”, expressive – an embodiment – of his time.’
Life Class was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 9 April 1974.