About Edward's Boys

Since 2005 Edward’s Boys (of King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon, a state grammar school, also known as K.E.S. and “Shakespeare’s School”) have been performing rarely-seen plays from the repertoire of the early modern boys’ companies. In the sixteenth- century, these boy acting companies grew out of the humanist grammar school and choir school systems, performing at the royal court and the private houses of the aristocracy, before coming to prominence in the emergent commercial theatre of the 1570s-1580s and terminating in the early 1590s. The companies later enjoyed a resurgence around the turn of the seventeenth-century, from the re-founding of “Paul’s Boys” in 1599, who disbanded c.1606, until the Children of the Queen’s Revels were assimilated into the Lady Elizabeth’s Men in 1613.

The impetus for the Edward’s Boys project grew initially out of Perry Mills’ involvement with Michael Wood’s BBC series In Search of Shakespeare and subsequent workshops on the Elizabethan Boy Player developed with Professor Carol Chillington Rutter of the University of Warwick. Now providing an exploration of contemporary performance possibilities, productions by the company do not pretend to be able to recreate “original practices” – whatever that phrase may mean. Rather the aim is to make the play work for today’s audience. The text is trusted and cherished rather than apologized for and consequently only ever lightly cut or edited.

Edward’s Boys have toured extensively, by invitation, to many venues over the years. For example, the universities of Oxford, London, Warwick and Cambridge, to Middle Temple Hall, Inner Temple, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe, the RSC Swan and The Other Place theatres, and to Genoa, Italy, and, in particular, Montpellier, France.

Critical Acclaim for Edward’s Boys

The productions of Edward's Boys are a miracle of scholarly and theatrical praxis. Under Mills’; artistic vision, and through the company's performances, we’re able to see and understand so much more about the complex history of early modern English theatre… Edward Boys creates truly memorable and thrilling theatre.

Professor Brandi K. Adams, Arizona State University, US

I love the Edward’s Boys for their willingness to take leave of reality and abandon themselves to the magic of the theatre.  That they are young and male hardly makes a difference, for they can perform whatever is called for in terms of age, gender, class, ethnicity, even size.   With great energy and skill, often musical as well as dramatic, they discover the wit, pathos, irony in even the most abstruse lines.  Of course, behind their performances is the genius of Perry Mills who breathes contemporary life into these largely forgotten early modern plays, turning the many hard challenges they pose into opportunities for strikingly imaginative solutions.

Professor Margreta de Grazia

Edward’s Boys is a remarkable theatrical experiment that has become required viewing for anyone interested in early modern drama. Voyaging far beyond Shakespeare, the Boys’ productions are rare gems that are somehow both a rich resource for scholars of gender, performance and theatre history, and a great night at the theatre. The company gives us an expansive early modern stage world, full of insights about how theatre depicted gender through the boy.

Professor Clare McManus, Northumbria University, Newcastle