Our Schoolboy Mistake

28 Feb 2022

We can’t wait to see Wonder Boy on our stage soon – a new show from Ross Willis and Sally Cookson that follows schoolboy Sonny finding his way in the world whilst living with a heightened stammer.

Watching the team in rehearsals got us thinking about our own school-based tales – in particular, this gem from our archives featuring two schoolboys getting up to a bit of mischief…

Picture the scene: it’s August, 1942. Winston Churchill is Prime Minister, WW2 has raged on for 3 long years, and Bristol Old Vic has just been auctioned off after falling into disrepair. The successful bidder was a rich businessman, who bought the theatre for £10,500.

Today that would get you a 3-week Caribbean cruise, half a Tesla or 3,500 meal deals. Times change, eh?

The businessman kindly agreed to hold the theatre until the community had enough money to buy it back. And so, the fundraiser of all fundraisers began!

To help raise a bit of cash, tours of the theatre were advertised in the local paper. Mrs Alice Beham saw the advert and thought it would be a wholesome day out, so she rounded up her family and trucked them off to the theatre. She turned up at the advertised time, but was no one there. No tour guides, no customers, no caretaker – not a soul.

Or so she thought.

She went round to the back door, and where she was expecting to find a tour guide there stood a pair of bashful schoolboys. Bashful, but bold.

There was no tour. The kids had put the advert in the newspaper themselves.

Alice had been expecting a look around the theatre, and she didn’t want to let her family down. So, as she later wrote, the schoolboys ‘knew the way in and we followed.’

In other words, the kids broke into the theatre and Alice’s whole family scrambled in after them.

They had a jolly old time, letting cannonballs down the thunder run and playing with the stage lights. The theatre Trustees later realised this might have been why the electricity bills were so high.

Alice even wrote to the theatre afterwards and sent some money to say thank you. Cheeky? Honest? Who knows. She seemed pretty pleased with how it all turned out though.

As for the schoolboys, you’ve got to hand it to them for their resourcefulness. They didn’t get caught, made a few quid, and created a whopper of a story for the grandkids. 

For more schoolboy adventures, make sure you catch Wonder Boy in the theatre from Sat 5 – Sat 26 Mar!