In January, a cast and crew of Oundle School pupils from St Anthony House, under the direction of Upper Sixth former, Hugo Beazley (18), brought a production of The History Boys to the stage of the Stahl Theatre.
Freddie Wilson (17) commented, “Capturing the boisterous atmosphere in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, whilst also presenting the weighty and profound themes of the play requires a precise sense of balance. Hugo seemed undaunted by both the subtleties of the play’s tone, and the renowned reputation of the play and movie. The choice of play was particularly astute, allowing the characteristic playfulness of St Anthony boys to be expressed on stage, whilst also drawing upon parallels and opposites in our own lives.”
The History Boys is a comedy about education. The quick-witted intelligence of the boys, all of whom are Oxbridge candidates, is beautifully complemented with the anti-establishment Mr Hector, played by Adam Oliver (18). The fast-paced dialogue is at times funny, at times heart wrenching, but always beautifully written. The script, which focuses on the use and meaning of language and literature, has a striking craftsmanship which reflects its themes. Tackling issues such as homosexuality and paedophilia in a House play was ambitious, and the fact that the piece maintained its integrity reflects the maturity of the cast.
The thirteen actors represented a great range of experience, from Stahl Theatre veterans to new recruits. The resilience and foresight displayed by the cast was particularly impressive, with preparations beginning many weeks before production. Stage crew members, Lorne Inglis (15) and Joshua Davies (16), organised the staging under the watchful eye of Lauren King (17). Lily Tyler (17), recruited to play Mrs Lintott, and Sarah Boyle (17), a wonderfully suggestive secretary, must be lauded for their performances.
Freddie concluded, “Hugo Beazley demonstrated considerable skill as a director and leader, managing the cast with skill and patience, and creating a performance which will forever be remembered as a triumph, both for St Anthony and for the School.”
Background Information on Oundle School
Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.
The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports MasterPlan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion which opened in April 2015 and new astroturfs due to be completed this year.
There are currently 1110 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 860 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day school for children aged 4 to 11.