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By all means, enjoy the cute musical numbers and dancing on stage in Rise. That’s what the show is about – performance. But there’s a far deeper-rooted lesson being taught by Stanton High’s drama and English teacher Lou Mazzuchelli (Josh Radnor). He wants to inspire his students to dream big and achieve those goals with a little help from his secret weapon: the school’s theatre and stage performance department.

But that’s not the only story of inspiration in this show.

Rise is based on 2013 best-selling novel Drama High by Michael Sokolove. It’s a biographical tale about drama teacher Lou Volpe, who spent over 40 years teaching English and drama at a small-town Pennsylvania high school and using stage plays to get his students to rise, be counted and make the most of their talents.

We took [Drama High] as an inspiration and then I really felt like I needed to make it kind of my own story,” explains Rise creator Jason Katims. There’s more drama than just with Lou trying to get the kids into his stage production. He’s met with a brick wall from the other teachers, especially Tracey Wolfe (Rosie Perez). She was the assistant theatre director who lost the director’s job to Lou.

When you get an email from Jason (who’s done Friday Night Lights, 2006-2011) and Jeffrey Seller (who produced stage play Hamilton) and they’re producing a TV show about a drama teacher at a public high school, you go, ‘Yeah, I’d probably wanna do that’,” says Josh jokingly. “It was a no-brainer. Then you read this book and you realise that it’s not-fiction, this really happened and that adds to this show and what it brings to the plate: performance within performance.”

Stream the inspiring first season of Rise  on Showmax here »

Rise isn’t the only book adaptation that you can stream on Showmax.

Game of Thrones (2011-current) Stream all seven seasons » 

Before HBO bought the rights to the epic series, author George RR Martin’s work was a cult hit… with a small cult following. But once characters like Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Eddard Stark (Sean Bean), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and the worlds of Westeros were brought to life, the fantasy series became one of TV’s biggest-ever productions – and not just viewer-wise.

Everything is bigger, from shooting locations (from Ireland to Croatia) to sets to special effects – come on, you don’t think those giant dragons are real, right? Be warned though: you can’t have distractions and you need to follow all the hidden clues and words not spoken to know what’s going on later in the series.

The Handmaid’s Tale (2017-current) Stream Seasons 1 & 2 » 

No matter what you think you know about bleak, horrible, tragic dystopian dramas – until you’ve watched The Handmaid’s Tale, you know nothing! Based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same name, a young woman is kidnapped and wakes up in the Republic of Gilead and instead of being free, she is a Handmaid.

She’s told what to wear, what chores to do and how to behave. But more cruelly, she is now – as a fertile Handmaid – a glorified babymaker for her owners. And perish the thought of Handmaids having any say over when they breed: they are routinely raped, with their owner’s wife watching to ensure she is part of the ritual. It’s a bleak, bleak upsetting look at a future that we don’t want.

And we’ve just found out that Atwood is now writing a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale: read more here.

Vanity Fair (2017-current) Watch the first season »

Women have never had it easy as long as cruel and corrupt power-hungry men have held them back. And if you think the modern world is bad, spare a thought for the “fairer sex” in the 17th Century. That’s the period written about by William Thackeray in his 1848 novel Vanity Fair, following a young woman named Rebecca Sharpe (Olivia Cooke) as she fights to get ahead in the world.

But make no mistake, she’s not playing by the rules. Oh no – she’s fighting fire with fire, going cheap-shot for cheap-shot with her oppressors. Becky isn’t going to be held down and she’s more than willing to sink to new lows to prove her point, beat men at their own game and live her best life, even if it means compromising on her morals a smidge.

New episodes land on Showmax every week.

Watch on Showmax now »

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Laura Cooke

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