And now it finally begins …

No, not just the kickoff of TimeLine’s blog where we hope you’ll continue to check back for news and comments about our work.  But also, we’re marking the start of rehearsals for The History Boys, the much-anticipated final production in TimeLine’s 2009-10 season. Last night we brought our entire team together to begin our work on Alan Bennett’s hilarious and poignant play.

TimeLine was granted the rights in January 2008 to produce the Chicago Premiere of The History Boys, and ever since that news broke we have been flooded with questions – more so than with any of our previous 37 productions – about the production: Who will be in the cast? What the design will be like? How will we configure our flexible theatre? How did a theatre our size get the rights to produce it? … and on and on and on.

There’s just something about this play that has had people talking. And calling. And emailing. And anticipating.

And there’s something about this play that had people desperately wanting to be a part of it. In any way. Our auditions were filled with a huge pool of actors coming in well-versed and exceptionally prepared. I’ve never seen so many young guys in white shirts and thin black ties in my life. It was like being at an All-Jonas-Brothers-Halloween-Party that lasted for weeks.

And with each actor and each audition we heard new things in Bennett’s play – fresh personal insight, a new layer of emotional (or historical) complexity and further proof that this script is multi-layered, highly provocative and, at its core, very personal.

We found our stellar cast of 12, and last night we had the pleasure of seeing and hearing them start to work as a unit. The eight “boys” who make up the students are ready to take the city by storm. Most of them fresh out of college – and some of them still in – these are new faces on the Chicago theatre scene that, I think, you’ll be seeing for many years to come.

I must admit that sometimes at a first read-through I hold my breath, hoping that the play sings as I’d thought when reading it on the page, or praying that the cast brings the same sizzle and intensity that we saw from them in auditions. Quite happily, last night I breathed easily and smiled proudly throughout the night as I listened to the already budding chemistry, playfulness, humor and humanity of our cast, perfectly married with Alan Bennett’s dialogue.

Even listening to actors sitting around a table reading the script, I understand why people have been so worked up in the last year about this play. Or why we exalted 14 months ago when we were granted the rights to produce it. It’s a special piece of theatre.

We’re honored to have it here at TimeLine, and we’ll work like hell over the coming weeks to be good stewards of Bennett’s dynamic script. Can’t wait to share it with you.

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  1. Terry Hamilton

    I’m very excited to be apart of “The History Boys” and I believe TimeLine fans and audiences are in for some nice surprises.
    We’re just getting started with rehearsals and the first impressions I’ve been stuck with thus far is the depth of talent that is involved with this production from the actors to the designers to the crew…all first rate.
    I was also struck by how well this show has been cast. I know there have been long hours, days, weeks and months that have gone into the planning and casting of this production and TimeLine audiences are going to see evidence of that work the minute they walk into the theatre.
    So, here we go, off once again on an exciting, entertaining and as always with TimeLine, informative journey.
    I know it’s early but I’m going to predict now that “The History Boys” is going to be the “Hot Ticket” this spring. And if nothing else, seeing me try to speak French may well be worth the price of admission.