Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Arden Theatre Company Presents Philadelphia Premiere THE HISTORY BOYS 9/24-11/1, Opens 9/30

Arden Theatre Company kicks off its 2009/10 season with the Philadelphia premiere of The History Boys, Alan Bennett's international hit that explores the anarchy of adolescence and the purpose of education. The History Boys has received more than 30 major awards, including Tony and Olivier Awards for Best Play.

The History Boys is set during the 1980s in northern England and chronicles the final year of eight clever young students at a British school in pursuit of sex, sport and admission into Oxford or Cambridge. Two history teachers with wildly different teaching philosophies become rivals for the hearts and minds of the boys in this hilarious and provocative play.

The original London production premiered in 2004 and was a smash hit, attracting sell-out audiences before touring to Hong Kong, New Zealand and Sydney. The play opened on Broadway in 2006, received six Tony Awards, and was adapted into a feature film later that year.

Alan Bennett is an English author, actor and director who graduated from Oxford with a degree in medieval history. Bennett first achieved acclaim in 1960 when he co-authored and starred in Beyond the Fringe with Dudley Moore, Peter Cook and Jonathan Miller. Other plays written by Bennett include Talking Heads, The Lady in the Van and The Madness of George III and the screenplay for Prick Up Your Ears. In The History Boys, Bennett explores contrasting philosophies of how and why we study history and the generational and ideological clashes in teaching methods. Hector, the seasoned older teacher in the play, values education because of its inherent merit; specifically he believes in the joys of learning, the beauty of language, and the revelation that in discovering long-gone people, we more fully understand ourselves. By contrast, the younger teacher Irwin proclaims "history nowadays is not a matter of conviction," he says. "It's a performance."

Arden's Producing Artistic Director Terrence J. Nolen will direct The History Boys. Nolen was recently nominated for two Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre for Outstanding Direction of a Play (Something Intangbile) as well as Outstanding Direction for a Musical (Candide).

"The History Boys is one of the most celebrated new plays of this decade and Arden Theatre Company is thrilled to produce its Philadelphia premiere," said Nolen. "This great play deserves a great cast and we have put together a remarkable ensemble - including eight young actors who are absolutely extraordinary."

The cast also features Philadelphia actor Frank X, who makes his Arden debut as Hector. Originally trained as a dancer and playwright, Frank X has performed widely throughout the area with theatres including InterAct (Permanent Collection and Black Russian), Azuka Theatre (Four) and Theatre Exile (Rhinoceros). Frank X received the Barrymore Award for Best Actor for his performance in Lonely Planet (InterAct) and Barrymore Nominations for four roles at the Lantern: Sam, "Master Harold"...and the boys; Lear, King Lear; Lyngstrand, Ghosts; Bob, Beyond Therapy. He has also performed regionally at the Humana Festival, Seattle Rep and the Folger Theatre. Locally, he has appeared most recently in Little Lamb (InterAct) and in the title role in Othello (Lantern).

The final dress rehearsal of The History Boys on Wednesday, September 23 at 8pm is open to the public as a Pay-What-You-Can performance, with all proceeds collected donated to ArtReach, a Philadelphia-based non profit that enriches lives by connecting underserved audiences with cultural experiences so that they may enjoy and benefit from the transformative powers of the arts. All seats are general admission, first come, first served for this performance.

The History Boys previews begin on Thursday, September 24. Preview performances run September 24, 25, 26, 27 and 29. Opening night is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 30.

Single ticket prices are $29- $48, with discounts available for seniors, students, military and educators. Groups of 10+ enjoy significant discounts; please inquire about group rates.

Three and five-show subscriptions for the 2009/10 season are now available. Subscribers enjoy significant savings on tickets, the best choice of seats and a liberal ticket exchange policy. Call the Arden Box Office at 215.922.1122, order online at, or visit the box office.

The Arden is wheelchair accessible and provides assisted listening devices and large-print programs at every performance. Reservations are required for accessible seating and may be made by calling the Arden's Box Office at 215.922.1122.

For more information, visit

Related Articles View More Philadelphia Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You