The History Girls
By Lily W
We begin our tale on a dank November in 2010 at 5:59…
The History Girls really conveys the emotions and feelings that everybody holds when its nearing the end of a year. The overwhelming stress, anxiety and dread of looming deadlines, the general feeling of irritation and anger at things such as teachers and Southern Rail are beautifully displayed throughout this script, relatable yet comedic. This devised piece mainly surrounds the troubles between a mother and a daughter, who never spend quality time together due to their separate issues of work, school etc, but combines comedy and some modern-day issues, addressing technology problems, terrorism, relationships etc.
Devising an entire play with just a script as a stimulus is not easy by any means, but it is a fun and creative process. Not only that but it is also a journey of development, finding out what works and what doesn’t and how things can be expressed or played differently and more effectively. Devised theatre is typically collective creation, working collaboratively and improvising with a performing ensemble. I would have loved to be in this production when I was in third year, as improvisation is acting I can be quite comfortable with, the freedom and creativity makes the script more enjoyable to learn with ideas and new thoughts weaved throughout.
What's interesting about this production, in comparison to any other play I've been in or worked backstage for, is the rehearsal process. The script is merely there for support and we use it as a baseline but create, build and change the whole way through. There is a fantastic chorus involved, with girls from the third year to the lower sixth. Mr Jackson, director of this production, described the rehearsals as "fun and interesting, the ensemble process makes it easier to devise as you go and it's fab to see the different years and everyone having their moment".
Some people describe being in the chorus as a 'small role', but the history girls is proof that that is not true. Everyone is on the stage working together and in this play, apart from the two main roles of "Sue" (mother) and "Jenny" (daughter), everyone plays multiple different characters, everyone has a line and makes the play as special as it is. It's been great rehearsing with such vibrant, funny and amazingly talented girls who are all great actresses, and in this completely female cast, everyone has really worked well together. From auditions and the first few rehearsals, I was genuinely blown away by the amount of talent, and impressed with how quickly we get things done in rehearsals by working together, as I’m sure Mr Jackson is too. It takes a lot of commitment and effort to put a show up on its feet, considering we have only had a few rehearsals so far, I am amazed at how much we have done and accomplished in such a small amount of time.
It’s a relatable and very funny play but simultaneously has a great message about the importance of family and doing what makes you happy.