The History Boys

April 2, 2016

The History Boys March 2016

by phoenixdrew

in Productions

A performance showcasing the young talent of Phoenix

At the start of February 2016 eight boys and four adults started the rehearsals for Alan Bennett’s award winning play, The History Boys. A month and a half later the show played for a five night run at the Rhodes. The production appealed to a varied cross-section of theatregoers including several school groups as well as an older audience who would have had first-hand experience of the 1980s setting. The adult cast were praised, but  it was clear that the triumph of the production was the casting and performances of the eight Phoenix Theatre School Boys portraying the group of Yorkshire Lads.

“A young group of actors take on the schoolboy roles, riffing off each other in classroom debates on history with performance chemistry and speed that is a joy to watch…” -The Herts and Essex Observer

Throughout the rehearsal period the boys developed Yorkshire accents, learnt French, arranged songs and developed characters that the Herts and Essex Observer said allowed Alan Bennett’s style to really shine through. Joseph Vaiana played the confident Dakin, the love interest for Joe Llewelyn’s comic and tragic Posner and the fascination of new teacher Irwin (Jack Downey).  Drew Gregg portrayed the Catholic Scripps, the go between friend of Dakin and Posner. Gregg and Llewelyn also delivered the majority of songs throughout the play varying from Gracie Fields and George Formby. 2015 Panto comic Daniel Boulton appeared in the role of the simple but ambitious Rudge whilst Will Edden, Tom Capon, Will Saunders and George Jack delivered fast and natural performances as Timms, Lockwood, Crowther and Akhtar. Both Boulton and Edden were mentioned as stand-outs in a review by Anne At the Theatre.  The chemistry of the boys really shone through on stage, giving the classroom scenes a rhythm that was a joy to watch. The production featured trained actors Matthew Ward, Jeremy Small and Sue Last as the charismatic but broken Hector, the power hungry Headmaster and the no-nonsense Mrs Lintott, respectively.

“Do yourself the favour of a thoughtful night of theatre by heading back to school” – The Herts and Essex Observer

The set was designed by Douglas Heap, built by Trevor Paveley and painted by Anna Stamper who recently painted the sets for Peter Pan and Jack and the Beanstalk. The set was a simple and appealing design, located in a class room with posters of art, history and culture completely covering the walls. An inventive addition was to have the set hide the motorbike that Hector rides in the play, allowing for a big reveal at the beginning and end of the production. Lighting design was provided by Rob Dyer and combined with the direction of Jeanne Stacey, the world within and outside of the classroom walls was brought to life. With a brilliant response from those who saw the production, The History Boys showcased the talent that Phoenix Theatre Arts has to offer.

To read all the reviews for the production, see the links below:

Herts and Essex Observer, Anne at the Theatre

To see all of the photos, click here.

February 11, 2016

Phoenix takes on the Nation’s Favourite Play!

by phoenixdrew

in Productions

“The History Boys” is in rehearsal phase!

After previous critical success with Laurel and Hardy and Bouncers, 2016 brings a new production for Phoenix Theatre Arts, Alan Bennett’s “The History Boys”. Voted the Nation’s Favourite Play in 2013, it is no small task to take on this beloved text. Directed by Phoenix Youth Theatre Director, Jeanne Stacey, the production involves 8 boys from Phoenix Theatre School, a former student as a teacher and the remaining teacher roles are filled by trained actors involved in the production.

The vote for the Nation’s favourite play consisted of 1400 plays and The History Boys even beat classic Shakespeare’s Hamlet and contemporary plays including Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem. What is it that has Bennett’s work in the heart of the country? The text, the characters, the emotions or the combination of these expertly crafted elements? Most likely the latter, as Bennett’s play explores something that everyone has an experience of; positive or negative, education remains with us.

Following the trials and tribulations of 8 sixth form boys in the 1980s at a Grammar School in Sheffield, we see how the students’ opinions and lives are impacted by those who teach them. With four teaching figures each with a varied opinion on what  education should be about, Bennett explores the contrast between teachers that aim to get the grades and the teachers who aim to make enriched human beings from their pupils. The original production and film made stars of the cast with Dominic Cooper and James Corden making their debut. The late Richard Griffiths played the beloved teacher Hector in the original production and film and this portrayal is one of his most iconic performances.

The play is infused with history, nostalgia and culture, questioning what makes something remain in our hearts and memories as we get older. The production is now in the rehearsal phase and there is a palpable sense of ensemble with the 12 strong cast and it is set to be both a challenging and enriching experience for all involved. Phoenix hopes that their production of The History Boys remains in the hearts and memories of both the cast and those who come to see the production.

The production runs at the Rhodes Arts Complex from the 15th-19th of March.

Click here to book tickets.