GLASGOW has long been known for its sense of character.

Whether it is bumping into a local character on Sauchiehall street or finding yourself longing for a square sausage when you’re away, there are a few things that will forever remind you of where you come from.

To many of us, one of those major experiences that separate us from others in Glasgow are our memories of school – and every school in the city, while different, has a lot of things the same.

Glasgow Times:

Catriona Duggan’s play When the Penny Drops’, depicts the essence of all those communal memories: from

the hyper-active PE teacher to the monotone classroom assistant.

Catriona, 44 from Partick, has distilled the nostalgic magic of the classroom, and catapulted it onto the Oran Mor stage as part of A Play, A Pie and a Pint.

We shouldn’t expect any less from a playwright who also doubles as Ms. Duggan throughout the week with her job as an English teacher at Trinity High School in Renfrew.

“It’s been a brilliant week,” Catriona tells the Glasgow Times.

“I’ve taken some of my classes to see the play, and others have come off their own back.

“They’re raving about it and a lot of them are trying to guess what character is based on their own teachers. I’m staying tight-lipped about it all,” Catriona laughed.

“It was pretty surreal to see my pupils standing with their school uniform on at the side of the stage, and I felt a surge of affection for them.

“The audience were smiling at them because they could recognise it, and I think they could see themselves in the show too.”

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When the Penny Drops explores the life of 46-year-old English teacher, Penny, who has it sussed.

She can deal with the stresses of the job, including the children, colleagues and parents through the art of ‘Complete Disengagement’.

The play sees Penny relate much of her advice to the audience, illustrated by interactions she has with those she meets on a daily basis. But is her plan as fool-proof as it seems?

Glasgow Times:

“It’s basically about a teacher who gets through life by disengaging, and judging people around her,” explains Catriona.

“It comes back to bite her because there is a shift in the middle where everybody’s life is exposed, including hers.

“It’s comedy until the shift, which is a risky game but I loved it.

“None of us know what is going on in people’s lives and I think sometimes we have to remind ourselves of that, and in teaching as well.”

On this week of all weeks many of us have learned that lesson – in particular with the widely-publicised passing of Caroline Flack. Has anyone mentioned that in the same breath as the play?

“A lot of people have mentioned Caroline Flack to me this week and I didn’t expect it but I can see the connections,” says Catriona.

“The play is about judging, and about the things that go on in people’s lives that we don’t always see. It’s important to talk about.”

This is not the first time that Penny the teacher has seen the stage – the play had its first stint at the Glasgow Comedy Festival in 2018, with Short Attention Span theatre.

“I started writing scripts in 2016 because I got dumped and I just needed to expel the daemons in my head,” said Catriona.

“A lot was dark with a comedic element. I sent this play to two forums, Short Attention Span theatre and Page to Page, and it just grew and grew. They provided the location and the cast and a director and the collaborations were amazing.

“I enjoyed doing them and I wanted to revisit the other characters and give them a story and A Play A Pie and A Pint just allowed me to do that.

Glasgow Times:

For Catriona, who lives in Partick, there is something special about the play being put on in one of Glasgow’s most popular institutions.

“I couldn’t be happier with the premise and the location of the play, and the Oran Mor.

“I feel so blessed, to have this cast and director and these members. It just worked and I was so excited and happy about it. It was a bonus that the audiences have loved it. It’s a dream come true.”