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Young Alums Take the Stage in The History Boys

Play features five CFA grads

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Jared Craig (CFA’07) (left) and Karl Baker Olson (CFA’07) are two of five CFA graduates playing in The History Boys, which runs through June 7 at the Boston Center for the Arts.

A year after earning their degrees in theater at Boston University, Jared Craig (CFA’07) and Karl Baker Olson (CFA’07) have gone back to high school to find professional success: both are currently performing in The History Boys, a six-time Tony Award–winning play written by Alan Bennett, now being directed by Scott Edmiston (CFA’95) at the Boston Center for the Arts Roberts Studio Theatre.

Set in England in the 1980s, the play revolves around a group of boys being prepared for college entrance examinations by three teachers with different — and sometimes conflicting — approaches. Craig and Olson play the titular “history boys,” Craig in the role of Scripps, and Olson as Posner. Craig describes his character as the “moral compass” of his group of friends, while Posner, says Olson, is isolated by a lack of self-confidence and discomfort with his sexuality.

“He desperately wants to be accepted to a prestigious university in the hopes that it will give him the satisfaction and success that he feels has always eluded him,” Olson says. “He’s also beginning to come to terms with his sexual attraction to one of his classmates, Dakin, which certainly serves to set him apart from the rest of his peers.”

While Olson’s character may feel as if he doesn’t belong, Craig and Olson fit in perfectly with the rest of the cast, which is well-stocked with College of Fine Arts alumni. In addition to director Edmiston, who earned a master’s degree from the school of theatre, the cast includes actors Joe Lanza (CFA’04), Chris Thorn (CFA’00), and Paula Plum (CFA’75) — giving the group a lot of common ground.

“It’s nice to be part of the BU family,” Olson says. “We have a lot of fun together. And the fact that we’ve all experienced a similar education and value parallel ideals when it comes to our work certainly comes in handy in the rehearsal room, and every night on stage.”

Both actors have been busy with other BU-affiliated projects this year: Olson, who has been studying acting since he was 10, recently performed in Gary, a new play by alum Melinda Lopez (GRS’00) produced at the Boston Playwrights Theatre in February and March. He also appeared in Sow and Weep, a play by classmate Nitzan Halperin (CFA’07) that was featured in CFA’s InCite Arts Festival in New York in March. Craig, whose credits at BU include Be the Dog and Brendan, is currently an intern at the BU-affiliated Huntington Theatre Company and was an understudy in the company’s production of David Rabe’s Streamers last spring.

“BU is such a busy theater school — after freshman year we were in four shows a year for the remaining three years,” Craig says. “That’s a lot of stage time for an undergraduate degree. I think that is one of the program’s strongest aspects.”

Although The History Boys is showing almost every night, both young actors are finding time to pursue other projects. Olson is currently the assistant director of As You Like It for the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, which produces free public performances on the Boston Common. And next month, Craig will begin working for the fifth straight year for Project Contemporary Competitiveness, an advanced-studies program for high school students, teaching a theater class at Bridgewater State College.

The History Boys, produced by SpeakEasy Stage Company, will be playing at the Roberts Studio Theatre in the Boston Center for the Arts Calderwood Pavilion, 527 Tremont St., through June 7. Purchase tickets online at www.bostontheatrescene.com, by phone at 617-933-8600, or in person at the theater.

Davide Nardi can be reached at dnardi@bu.edu.

1 Comments

One Comment on Young Alums Take the Stage in The History Boys

  • Anonymous on 05.29.2008 at 10:12 am

    bad form re: "The History Boys"

    I just wanted to let you know that you displayed extremely bad form in your article about the BU alums in “The History Boys” by not including the theater company- SpeakEasy Stage Company- in the article. Yes, the location of the play is important, but even more important is to include the theater company that is producing the play. SpeakEasy is the organization responsible for the play, not the BCA- it’s just the theater space. Get all your facts together and include ALL the important information before you write another article.

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