A brand new production of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, a clever and witty play set inside a school, takes to the stage at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre this February.
The play tells story of a group of 6th form students in a school in Sheffield in the 80s who are all trying to get into Oxford and Cambridge. They are being mentored by Hector who is an ‘old school’ teacher. When the Headmaster thinks he isn’t cutting it, he brings in the help of Irwin – a younger teacher fresh from university.
It’s a play that looks at both knowledge and education and how those two things blend. It’s a British coming of age story of a group of young lads and how education guides them into realising what they want to do with their lives.
Tell us about your individual characters?
Thomas Grant [Posner] – He is Jewish, he is gay, he is coming to terms with the fact that he is in love with Dakin…
Jordan Scowen [Dakin] – He doesn’t take anything too seriously. He likes the attention of the women which is what he spends a lot of his time focusing on. He has a bit of a strange relationship with Irwin, who is a figure that he’s never had in his life before and has quite a strong affect on him.
Arun Bassi [Akhtar] – He’s a young Muslim living in Sheffield. He is very much a cheeky chap; he loves hanging out with the lads and he loves bonding with this group of people he’s known all his life.
Dominic Treacy [Timms] – Timms is the archetypal joker of the pack. Loves a laugh and is bright, but also is often the distraction in the group.
Frazer Hadfield [Scripps] – Scripps acts as a bit of a wise man for some of the characters. He is very religious and steps out of the action sometimes to narrate the action on stage.
Joe Wiltshire Smith [Rudge] –Rudge likes his rugby, he’s earthy but he thinks he’s out of his depth.
James Schofield [Lockwood] – Lockwood is quite focussed, knows he wants to do well and is quite driven, but he also takes the opportunity to clown about a bit.
Adonis Jenieco [Crowther] – Wants to be an actor and is always encouraging other people to join him in little scenes.
The play asks a lot of questions about relations, sexuality, and education. Why is the play so relevant today and why are audiences still engaged with it 15 years later?
Arun Bassi – Because none of this hasn’t stopped, putting it very bluntly. Issues like the ones seen in the play not only in schools, everywhere else, are perhaps even more relevant today and I think that’s why it draws people in to watch it. I think it deals with the issues in a comedic, witty, fast paced, youthful portrayal, which makes the audience feel like it isn’t shoved down their throat.
Which part of the rehearsal process or production are you enjoying and most excited about?
James Schofield – We have already really connected as a group and we have a lot of banter going… we’re a tight group and you just know that’s going to get stronger, so I think for me this is a really exciting part.
Joe Wiltshire Smith – I think finding the fun on stage will be easy because it is fun and natural being around these guys, everyone’s just clicked really well, and I think it’ll be great by the time it actually gets to the stage.
How do you think the audiences will feel about the show and why should they buy a ticket?
Dominic Treacy – The relationship between the boys and Hector is so much of what the play focuses on, and watching that story play out in 2020, we’re more aware of issues, it’s even more prevalent in society and of course how we approach issues like that.
Adonis Jenieco – It’s simply a brilliant play. Its just incredible, the writing is exceptional, anyone who has read it, seen it, or heard it comes out saying how fantastic it is!
The History Boys is on at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre from the 7th to the 22nd of February, tickets and information can be found on their website.
Photo credit // Graeme Braidwood