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The History Boys at NIDA

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by Emma Brown (subscribe)
I'm a freelance journalist and public relations consultant specialising in arts and entertainment.
Published December 6th 2010
History Boys
The History Boys at NIDA

Lessons learnt from The History Boys – to truly shine under the spotlight interact more and monologue less.

The play is set in a Sheffield high school of working to lower middle class students preparing for exams to enter the elite colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, and performed at NIDA which is regarded as Australia's elite drama college.

Directed by Suzanne Millar, The History Boys features Phil Lye, Morgan Derera, Claudette Clarke, Tim Hunter, Ben Williams, Con Costi, Cheyne Fynn, Andrew O'Sullivan, Leon Joseph, Oliver Clarke, Graeme McCrae and Stephen Lloyd-Coombs.

Presented by Riverview players the performing company provides opportunities for experienced actors and industry professionals to work alongside and mentor student performers.

The cast of eight students, a headmaster, history, specialist exam and female teacher all showcased their talents with the headmaster played by Tim Hunter the brightest performer who really owned the role.

Interesting themes are explored such as unrequited love, religion, sexuality, crossing boundaries between teacher and student, truth, what is history and what is regarded as elite education - inverting accepted myths or memorising facts about: ''s just one bloody thing after another...."

According to NIDA's website: "In Alan Bennett's award-winning play, the anarchy of adolescence provokes insistent questions about history and how you teach it; about education and its purpose; about masculinity; about power; about heroes."

Histoy Boys
The cast of the History Boys.

The set design in the Parade Playhouse – a small intimate theatre, was minimal and functional with an interesting backdrop of assembled piles of classroom lockers, posters, books, sports equipment and desks that the actors assembled yet the staff room on the extreme left of the stage was party obscured from view.

The technical direction needed refining with great music symbolising anarchic youth in the 80s such as the Pet Shop Boys, It's a Sin, yet was too loud and played too long so the first few lines of the actors speech were inaudible.

The play could of benefited from revising the many monologues and letting the players play or interact with each other more to create a greater sense of empathy for the characters.

The material was more suited to an English audience and I think lost a bit in the translation of class issues to an Australian audience.

The conflicts, with the underpinnings of paedophilia, homosexuality, abuse of power, class, notions of success, truth and history, all the loose ends aren't resolved neatly at the conclusion of the play.

There are a selection of performances on offer from drama to dance and graduate showcases at NIDA with the crème of acting and theatre graduates performing at budget prices.

Upcoming 2010 shows include CHOOSE IT. FEEL IT. OWN IT. SMASH IT. - a celebration of young students sharing their passion for dance; GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN - a tribute to those artists who have passed away but left their magical music to inspire us to dance and LA Stars Showcase 2010 – an all Singing all Dancing concert in various styles of dance including Jazz Funk, Hip Hop, Breakdancing, Classical Ballet, Contemporary & Tap.

On the last Thursday of every month it's a free event: Thursday Night Live at NIDA, from 5.30 - 7.30pm.

Book tickets here .

History Boys Cast
Leon Joseph (Lockwood) and Morgan Derera (Irwin).
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Why? Experience the performing arts at the birthplace of Australian acting legends
When: Tuesday to Sunday
Where: NIDA, 215 Anzac Parade Kensington
Cost: Free to prices vary for each performance, The History Boys was $24 / $19 concession.
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