The National Theatre’s multi award-winning production of Alan Bennett’s play The History Boys has confirmed dates for an eight-week tour of the UK this autumn (See News, 7 Sep 2004), ahead of a return to the NT repertoire over Christmas and New Year and an international tour in 2006.

The History Boys received its world premiere on 18 May 2004 (previews from 8 May) at the NT Lyttelton where, after extensions, it is now due to finish its current run next week, on 26 April. The tour will launch at the Theatre Royal Newcastle on 4 October 2005 before continuing to Plymouth, Sheffield, Norwich, Salford, Woking, Glasgow and Milton Keynes, where it concludes on 26 November.

The tour will be directed by Simon Cox, based on the original production by NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner. At the NT, the current cast features Richard Griffiths, Frances de La Tour, Geoffrey Streatfeild, Dominic Cooper, Samuel Barnett and Jamie Parker. Casting for the tour has not yet been confirmed.

Amongst The History Boys shedload of awards to date are: Best Play at the Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Awards, Best New Play at the Olivier Awards and Best New Comedy at the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards. In addition, Griffiths has won a hat trick of Best Actor prizes at the Evening Standard, Critics’ Circle and Oliviers; Barnett won both the Best London Newcomer and Best Supporting Actor in the Whatsonstage.com Awards (See News, 15 Feb 2005); and Hytner won the Olivier for Best Director.

Set in the 1980s, The History Boys questions the purpose and means of education. In a school where the headmaster cares only about exam results, a bunch of excitable sixth form boys go about their pursuit of the important things: sex, sport and a university place. Meanwhile, there are staff rivalries between an unconventional English teacher, an ambitious young supply teacher and a history teacher who thinks the headmaster is an idiot.

- by Terri Paddock