Thursday, August 27, 2009

On This Date in History Boys

The History Boys rehearsals have officially started and we're off and running. And, by running, I mean running. The play is so dense, it's chock-full of references to poets, historical events, movies, songs, etc. that I wonder how these actors are going to make sense of it all.

The play takes place in a "sixth-form classroom in a boys' school in the eighties in the north of England..." So, first we had to learn about the general education system in England and what the heck a "sixth form classroom" is. A sixth form class, by the way, is where students study for their entrance exams into universities. The play itself deals with the idea of learning for learning's sake and learning in order to gain entrance into a prestigious university like Cambridge or Oxford.

But in addition to understanding the education system in England and the poetical references scattered throughout the play, the boys (and they are boys, most of them are in their early to mid-twenties) have to learn the dialect, a smattering of french, movie references, and a few songs. This is all before we get up on our feet to learn blocking and lines.

Just for fun, here's a list of some of the literary references in the play:
Today, is a typical rehearsal day: some actors are working privately with the dialect coach, others are meeting with the dramaturg to go over specific questions about what their character says, knows, etc., still others are practicing music, and then some are watching the movie scenes that their characters re-create on stage.

That's been a lot of fun, watching these guys re-enact the hokiest scenes from Brief Encounter, The Seventh Veil, and Now, Voyager.

But I love this type of play with things happening every minute and in several different spaces. Call me a total scheduling geek but I get a kick out of figuring out where and when and how everything is going to fit together. And, I love being in the thick of it all.

So, I guess I could say, on this date in History Boys, the circus came to town.


  1. I was born in the north of England and I've yet to see an American understand the accent let alone replicate it! Good luck . . actually I heard somewhere along the traps that Australians do so well in Hollywood due to their ability to pick up American accents so well. No mean feat but it sounds like a load of hard work and fun. Have I told you how lucky you are to be able to earn an income doing something you love! Wish I could see the play!

  2. sounds like things are going pretty putting all the puzzle pieces together myself too. hope you have a great day!

  3. One of these plays/days I need to make the trek to Philly.

  4. Sounds impossibly complicated and wonderful!

  5. Thanks for all the good wishes. It is, exactly as Meagan said, complicated and wonderful, just the way I like it.