Making history

EVERYONE has at least one teacher they remember from their school days, though not, necessarily, one like Hector. He s the main protagonist in Alan Bennett s hugely popular, critically acclaimed and award-winning West End play The History Boys, which was

EVERYONE has at least one teacher they remember from their school days, though not, necessarily, one like Hector.

He's the main protagonist in Alan Bennett's hugely popular, critically acclaimed and award-winning West End play The History Boys, which was turned into a hit film and is now brought to the Kenneth More Theatre by Redbridge Stage Company in one of the first amateur productions of the comedy drama in the UK.

The action takes place in a fictional Sheffield grammar school in the early 1980s, and 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.

Irwin teaches the boys an essay style consisting of brisk generalities flavoured with sufficient facts and quotations to engage the examiner's interest.


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He believes the truth is irrelevant when it comes to finding a stance that will make his pupils stand out in the eyes of the examination board.

Hector, by contrast, wishes to teach knowledge, especially English literature, for its own value, hoping his students will benefit greatly from his influence. He wants the boys to become cultured, rounded human beings and believes exams are the enemy of all that he stands for.

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But he also has a penchant for groping the sixth form boys.

The role falls to John Chapman, an education consultant who says his background as a former teacher - at Eastbrook School, Dagenham, among others - has helped him in playing the part.

A member of Redbridge Stage since 1985, he says: "Being a teacher is a performance most of the time. You are putting on a mini show, giving a monologue for the benefit of the pupils.

"Having been a teacher in the 1980s, I remember what it was like at a time when exams were becoming so important."

But what about playing Hector?

"The boys don't consider him to be a threat. They joke about him, he is just a rather sad man."

Staging an amateur version of such a successful West End show is a challenge, but one John and the cast are revelling in.

John says: "As a group , we have always take risks in terms of what we do. Most groups at the KMT specialise in musicals but we try to keep the dramatic play alive."

The History Boys is full of the clever humour you expect of Bennett. It is directed by Ilford Recorder Theatre Personality of the Year winner Christine Keates and runs at the KMT, Oakfield Road, Ilford, from tomorrow (Thurs) to Saturday. Performances are at 7.45pm, plus a Saturday matinee at 3pm.

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