Grammar boys set for Bennett classic

Part of the cast of Harrogate Grammar School's production of The History Boys.
Part of the cast of Harrogate Grammar School's production of The History Boys.

HARROGATE Grammar School’s Faculty of Performing Arts is producing Alan Bennett’s highly-acclaimed and multi award-winning play, The History Boys on March 26 and 27 at 7pm in The Forum.

The action of the play takes place in Cutlers’ Grammar School, Sheffield, a fictional boys’ grammar school in the north of England and the plot follows a group of history pupils preparing for the Oxbridge entrance examinations under the guidance of three teachers, Hector, Irwin and Lintott, with contrasting styles.

What is astonishing is how much territory Bennett manages to cover: the teaching and meaning of history, inflexible and imaginative approaches to education, and the idea, as in Forty Years On, that a school has the potential to be a metaphor for English life.

It is no accident that the play is set in the eighties, when the arguments between beleaguered humanism and pragmatic functionalism were at the very height.

The play is also blissfully funny, not least in a scene where Hector improves the boys’ French by getting them to impersonate the clients of a bordello, only to be interrupted by a surprised and astonished headmaster!

The arts in education being an ever prevalent and contentious issue perhaps a viewing of this production may help you consider your own thoughts on the recent government commissioned report which warns of fears that the coalition is ignoring cultural education.

Often studied by A Level English and Theatre Studies students, this play is suitable for students in Year 11 and above, and for members of the general public who are over 16.

l Tickets cost £5 are available from Harrogate Grammar School’s Sixth Form reeception 01423 535235.