The History Boys

The History Boys

April 20th 2016

The History Boys

On the 15th of March 2016, drama and history students went to watch a performance called The History Boys which was written by Alan Bennett.  The production was about a class of boys who are trying to pass their history A-Levels and get into Oxbridge.  It featured comedy and tragedy, but also asks questions about growing up and what is right and wrong.  It featured one of our year eleven students, Joe Llewelyn, who played the character of David Posner.  Here we have an interview with Joe, seen here, far left middle row, with other members of the cast.

history boys

  1. How did you get into acting?

My family were all actors, but mainly on my mother’s side as they all do acting and that kind of work.  My great aunt is a director for foreign theatre but really I’ve always just thought it was interesting.

  1. Did you have to audition for the History Boys and what was it like?

We did have to audition.  I knew the director before and she had told me about it.  I knew so many other actors as I had worked with them before.

  1. How did they assign the roles?

Originally all the actors auditioned for all the boys but the directors and producers selected the characters.  I was put to play Posner quite early on and I mainly auditioned for it.

  1. How long was the rehearsal process and what was it like?

It was not a long process, for about three or four months; but it was made up of very long rehearsals.  Usually they last about three to four hours but sometimes they can go up to five hours.

  1. What was the hardest part when preparing for the performance?

The technical, it was the technical by far.  It was such a long process.   It’s just long because I was on the stage.  I wouldn’t say it was really difficult for me; it was more difficult for people doing technical rehearsals like lighting.  I wouldn’t say the actual acting was difficult.  I think getting the energy for an audience isn’t really understanding it but more entering it.  And I think I comment on drama and smaller theatre because there is less people.  But people usually go out to be entertaining and I think that was quite good.

  1. Did you have any input in the design and technical elements?

I didn’t personally because I was just acting but the person who did the script had a lot of design elements so he was the person who did the lighting and things like that.  He had the idea to have the motorcycle behind the entire set.  But no, it was mainly the admin who organised it.

  1. What was it like first performing History Boys?

We hadn’t really performed it fully properly which wasn’t ideal, but it went pretty well.  We had only just finished doing the technical which had gone fairly awful, which is usually a good sign in theatre meaning we need to concentrate more.  The energy was quite high on the first night and I would say it was one of our best nights.  It was just so fun.

  1. Now that it’s over do you wish you could change anything?

No, I thought I had made my decision on my character.  The only thing I would’ve liked was a longer run of shows which is possible.  I think five shows were too little.  I think we could’ve done more or performed in different theatres.

  1. What was your favourite scene?

My favourite scene, fun wise, is the French scene because it is ridiculous.  But the actual scene that I really liked, I don’t know, it’s difficult; because I really liked when he gets found out, I think that it is quite powerful.  And the scene after that as well, when I am with Hector saying the poem.  It is quite different and interesting for me.  But other than that, I’d say the French scene.

  1. Which character do you relate to the most and why?

I played Posner, but I wouldn’t say I relate to him myself.  I don’t know really, because I think the play is all about manipulation, and a lot of the characters are about manipulation.  Scripps in a way, but sometimes Tim as I like the attention.  No one in particular because the characters are so exaggerated.  It’s just really hard to relate to one of them


Our class really enjoyed the show, as it was almost a sort of rebellion against education, whilst being educational itself. It was refreshing and fun for the whole audience; our favourite scene used elements of slapstick comedy to portray a French class.  The play was incredibly real and recognisable as situations familiar to many students, though perhaps not all of it.  Overall, seeing the play was a hugely memorable and unique experience, which was brought together by the contrast between the brash comedy and the more tender, innocent moments throughout. 

Posted at 15:05 on 27th Feb 2019