Friday, May 18, 2018

Today In 2006, 'The History Boys' Premiered In London

The History Boys is a play by British playwright Alan Bennett. The play premiered at the Royal National Theatre in London today, May 18, 2004. Its Broadway debut was on April 23, 2006.

The play opened at the Lyttelton Theatre (part of the National Theatre) to sell-out audiences and its limited run was frequently extended. Richard Griffiths, James Corden, Dominic Cooper, Russell Tovey, Sacha Dhawan, Samuel Barnett and Andrew Knott were among the original cast. On November 24, 2005, the same production was revived once again at the Lyttelton Theatre where it played another successful run. Future Doctor Who actor Matt Smith took on the role of Lockwood in the November revision of the cast. The original cast reunited in the final week in February 2006.

Alan Bennett (center) with the cast of The History Boys (Getty Images)
The play opens in Cutlers' Grammar School, Sheffield, a fictional boys' grammar school in the north of England. Set in the early 1980s, the play follows a group of history pupils preparing for the Oxford and Cambridge entrance examinations under the guidance of three teachers (Hector, Irwin, and Lintott) with contrasting styles.

Hector, an eccentric teacher, delights in knowledge for its own sake, but the headmaster ambitiously wants the school to move up the academic league table; Irwin, a supply teacher, is hired to introduce a rather more cynical and ruthless style of teaching. Hector is discovered sexually fondling a boy and later Irwin's latent homosexual inclinations emerge.

In October 2006 a film adaptation of the play was released in the United States, and later in November 2006 in Britain. The film was directed by Nicholas Hytner and featured the original stage cast.

The show won the 2005 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play, Best Actor in a Play for Richard Griffiths, and Best Director for Nicholas Hytner. It also won the 2006 Tony Award for Best Play, Best Leading Actor for Griffiths, Best Featured Actress in a Play for Frances de la Tour, and Best Direction of a Play for Nicholas Hytner. It also won numerous other awards.

1 comment:

Raybeard said...

I felt bereft in not having seen the original stage production, but it wasn't after that opening that the entire original cast made a radio production which I recorded, and still have on audio tape. When I first listened to it, I must confess that despite being an avid Alan Bennett fan, I was rather disappointed, it seeming to lack the verbal 'fizz' which I associate with the writer. (All this was well before the film version). But it turned out to be a slow burner with me. The film did make me sit up and reconsider, and playing the tape again, it started to dawn on me what a masterpiece it is.
Would yet love to see it on stage, even if we have now lost the irreplaceable Richard Griffiths - and of course, all the original 'boys' would be much too old for their roles now anyway - as, indeed, some of them already were at the time.