By Michelle F. Solomon, FloridaTheaterOnStage.com, for SouthFloridaReporter.com, Dec. 6, 2015 – Probably the last place you’d want to be after rehearsing with the same cast and crew for weeks, then knowing you’re heading into a month-long run would be gathering at a table for Thanksgiving dinner. But that’s where some members of the cast of Palm Beach Dramaworks’ The History Boys found themselves on the recent holiday.
Director J. Barry Lewis thought it was important “that we all get to know each other better,” since the show about eight boys and their teachers at a private school in northern England, is such an ensemble piece. The knowing, he says, is “important to the work.”
Alan Bennett’s The History Boys isn’t a new play. It premiered in London in 2004, won a 2005 Olivier Award for Best New Play, then won a 2006 Tony Award when it moved to Broadway. But it’s been on the radar for Dramaworks for several years. Both Producing Artistic Director William Hayes and Lewis had seen the play in its original form in London and on Broadway.
“We were taken by the play on several levels,” explains Lewis. “One of them is its very strong universal themes of dealing with the power of education, the worth of education, and the idea of education for education’s sake.” Lewis turns philosophical. “Why do we learn, what do we learn, and then there’s the constant struggle of teaching towards the test. If students are only learning toward the test, what’s sustained?”