Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, the award winning Silken Thomas Players return to the Dean Crowe Theatre, Athlone on Saturday June 26 in celebration of being crowned the RTE All Ireland Drama Festival champions with their stunning production of The History Boys by Alan Bennett.
Adjudicator Tom Doherty awarded the top prize to the group, whose energetic production swept audiences away with their masterful performances and slick scene changes. Producer Sean Judge picked up the award for best director, while the group also collected the awards for best set design - Jonathan Judge; best lighting design - James Murphy and Conor O’Connell; and best stage management - Maria Flanagan, who has now won the award four times in six years. The group also picked up nominations in the best supporting actor category for Connie Broderick and Conor O’Connell.
Silken Thomas Players had previously won the competition in 2007 with The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer and they were runners-up last year. Since arriving on the Open circuit in 2005, the group have earned a reputation for taking on challenging works such as Trainspotting and Equus, and have never failed to attract the attentions of even the mildly curious.
The History Boys has scooped more than 60 awards on this year’s festival circuit including seven best directors for Sean Judge, more than 20 acting awards (Colin Malone, Mark Stafford, Connie Broderick, Patricia Henry, Ciaran Farrell, James Murphy, and Conor O’Connell ), awards in set design for Jonathan Judge, awards in lighting design for James Murphy and Conor O’Connell (operated by Conor Sweeney ), and numerous other awards including accolades for all the young actors playing the ‘history boys’.
The History Boys is the group’s 30th production and tells the story of final year students in an English grammar school who are preparing for their Oxford/ Cambridge entrance exams and are being coached by two tutors with contrasting views. The older character Hector, played by Mark Stafford, believes in the intrinsic value of knowledge, whereas the younger teacher Irwin, played by Conor O’Connell, is more concerned with impressing the examinations board. There lies the battle between truth and expedience.
In Alan Bennett’s new play, staff-room rivalry and the anarchy of adolescence provoke insistent questions about history and how you teach it; about education and its purpose.
This is a brilliantly funny production, with several show-stopping vignettes and lines that it is hoped will be quoted for years to come. Don’t miss it!
To book tickets contact the Dean Crowe box office at (090 ) 6492129.