Next Lesson


Next Lesson, a new play by Chris Woodley, about the controversial Section 28. Exploring human consequences for the school community. Ideal for drama students, colleges, amateur theatre groups, local theatres. Publishing to coincide with LGBTQ History Month, February 2019. In 1988, 14-year-old Michael comes out as gay. Later he returns as a teacher. In the background: the notorious Section 28 of Thatcher’s Local Government Act, which prohibited schools from “promoting homosexuality”. The narrative of the play spans from 1988 to 2003.


Next Lesson

A new play by Chris Woodley

• Acclaimed play about controversial Section 28
• Exploring human consequences for the school community
• Ideal for drama students, colleges, amateur theatre groups, local theatres
• Longlisted for The Polari First Book Prize 2019 (shortlist announced 26 July 2019) 

“You can’t teach someone to be gay Val, it’s just a discussion.
They’re not promoting anything.”

In 1988, 14-year-old Michael comes out as gay. Later he returns as a teacher. In the background: the notorious Section 28 of Thatcher’s Local Government Act, which prohibited schools from “promoting homosexuality”. The narrative of the play spans from 1988 to 2003 and explores what it means to be gay then and now.

About the playwright

Chris Woodley is an actor, writer and teacher. As an actor he has worked in Iceland and the UK, performing at London venues including The Criterion, The Lyric, The Yard and Greenwich Theatre. In 2013 he co-founded Hyphen Theatre Company with Esmé Patey-Ford and developed his first piece Elephant in the Room. His first short play Plus One was performed at The Criterion Theatre in the same year. Next Lesson is his first full-length play and has received great reviews from audiences.  His most recent play The Soft Subject (A Love Story) was also nominated for The Brighton Fringe Award for Excellence and received great press last year at Edinburgh.

Read our exclusive interview with Chris Woodley.

Reviews for Next Lesson

“Next Lesson is an interesting and unique look at LGBT culture, identity and public thought throughout the 80s, 90s, and 00s.” – Everything Theatre

“Author Chris Woodley keeps the piece leaping through time as every scene moves the narrative forward to a different year – allowing us to follow the characters and their stories
as they develop over the decades. These individual snapshots add up to a colourful collage that deftly documents a particular period of British history.” – Gay Times

“In Next Lesson, Woodley manages to make the audience laugh, tear up, and enjoy a little boogie… Definitely worth going back to school for” – ★★★★ Diva Magazine

“A Masterpiece… How has being queer in the classroom changed over the past thirty years? This informative play is your revision guide. Next Lesson is one school play that you won’t want to miss. – ★★★★★ Gay Times

“Incredible… Section 28 was one of the most hateful pieces of legislation brought in by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. Next Lesson by Chris Woodley looks at the knock-on effects of this legislation in the same school between 1988 and 2006. It’s funny, moving and heartwarming stuff. This excellent play is a great reminder of how fear and oppression can cause untold damage amongst vulnerable teenagers and that with love, honesty and unity we can overcome the curveballs life throws at us.” – ★★★★ attitude

The first thing to say about Chris Woodley’s play Next Lesson is that it is very good. An A+, 10 out of 10, top marks, gold star and any other educational phrase that can be applied to 75 minutes of how relationships work: mother to son, teacher to pupil, friend to friend and lover to lover..” ★★★★  Boyz

“What Woodley has achieved in his debut play is remarkable…Next Lesson is informative without being didactic, telling a very personal story as well as having clarity of the world at large- all the while wearing its heart on its sleeve.” – ★★★★ Female Arts

 “Highly entertaining… Brought in by the Thatcher regime, Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act forbade local authorities from promoting homosexual relationships as equal to heterosexual ones. This hated piece of legislation created confusion and caution in schools, undoubtedly prevented teachers from addressing homophobic bullying, denying lesbian and gay pupils appropriate sex and social education. Chris Woodley’s excellent play charts the education system through those years, creating lesbian, gay and bi characters from both sides of the classroom and staff room.” – ★★★★ British Theatre

“Impressive… This short production touches on a number of key issues that affected countless people within the LGBT+ community (and their loved ones), not just in the wake of Section 28 but throughout history. ‘Next Lesson’ is an educational piece devoted to the examination of this vital part in legal discrimination’s history, and will be eye- opening to many who perhaps did not know about this law and its damaging legacy. ’ – ★★★★West End Wilma


Reviews for Chris’s play The Soft Subject (A Love Story)

“A lovely personal testament to family” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian  – ★★★★★ “utterly lovable” The Reviews Hub – ★★★★★  “masterful talent”  ScotsGay – ★★★★★ “a roller-coaster of emotions” The Curtain Up Show – ★★★★ “heart-breaking” The Stage – ★★★★ “a hidden gem” British Theatre – ★★★★ “terrifically moving and intimate” The Wee Review – ★★★★ “a show with heart” Fringe Biscuit