Monday, May 12, 2014

Our New Slogan: Join the Play Reading Group and Leave Brussels!

Our May meeting meant another farewell!  This time to Melly who took us all by surprise with the news that she is returning to Virginia where she and her husband have a house.

Melly you have been a wonderful member of the group and we're going to miss you!

So since I formed the group we have lost Deborah, Cathy, Naomi, Jane - and now Melly! You were all wonderfully enthusiasitic supporters of the group and we all miss you all!

And with and Ina set to leave us in the summer, this does mean that we have space in the group, so do please encourage anyone who might be interested in joining us!

Melly's imminent departure overshadowed the reading of The Life of Riley.  I am glad that you all seemed to enjoy it - although it was slightly longer than I had anticipated and not quite as funny as you hope Ayckbourn to be.  I still don't think it's one of his better plays, but I hope some of you will get along to see the film (it's on this week at 4.10pm at Actor's Studio).  Ghislaine has already seen the film and seemed not so impressed by it!

Our Next Meeting:   June 4

We all seemed agreed on The History Boys and I have duly spent time this weekend reading it and preparing it.  In an ideal world we need 13 of us to read this play - but we could get by with 12 and at a pinch even 10 or 11.

The play was inspired by Bennett's own experiences of getting into Cambridge and Oxford (he won a place at Cambridge, but then, after his National Service applied to Oxford and won a scholarship - he did this to impress a fellow soldier who was going there - who was suitably unimpressed!).  He has written a long and interesting introduction to the play which I will be happy to scan and send to anyone who asks for it!

The play is about education and class and sex.  Especially education and sex: the masters attracted to the boys - and to some extent vice-versa.  It is also full of literary references, some of which I've spotted and others have, I'm sure, passed me by.  Those I've picked up I've noted on the script. Bennett doesn't use them without reason.

Health Warning:  This play deals with sex abuse and there is some explicit wording!  One conversation in particular might lead to blushes! 

The Characters:

  • Headmaster (Felix Armstrong) - Headmaster often referred to just as 'Felix' by the boys
  • Douglas Hector - English/General Studies teacher - referred to as 'Hector' throughout
  • Irwin - History teacher; brought in as a special coach
  • Mrs Dorothy Lintott - History teacher
  • Akthar - Pupil; of Asian ancestry, Muslim
  • Crowther - Pupil; does acting as a hobby
  • Stuart Dakin - Pupil; handsome, object of Posner's and Irwin's affection
  • James Lockwood - Pupil; strong opinions
  • David Posner - Pupil; youngest, gay and Jewish
  • Rudge - Pupil; better known for athletic skills than for intelligence
  • Donald Scripps - Pupil; Anglican, plays piano
  • Timms - Pupil; joker, overweight
  • Director on Irwin's television programme (a small role)
  • Fiona - Felix's secretary (non speaking!)
I found it quite difficult to 'place' the boys just reading the play to myself.  Dakin stands out, as do Posner and and Scripps to some extent, but I failed to get a 'picture' of them in my head.  Unlike Hector who will, to my mind, be forever the late Richard Griffith, and Dorothy (Frances de la Tour).

The 'Boys' with Bennett

The French Scene
When the National Theatre put together it's evening of performances from some of its best productions to celebrate its 50th birthday, it included the French scene from The History Boys.  I have not been able to find the NT production on YouTube ... but there is an amateur version there if you'd like to see it.

On 9 May Bennett turned 80.  If only I'd known this sooner we would have had read this in May and had our own little Bennett Birthday Party!  To celebrate this milestone the Guardian put together an A-Z:

You might also enjoy: and

Because there might not be enough of us I am going to prepare Peter and Alice and will put up a post about this soon!

FINALLY - BEFORE I FORGET AGAIN - The ECC will be doing a production entitled 'Three Talking Heads' which will be 3 of the Bennett Talking Heads Monolgoues.  23-27 September 2014.

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