Henry V Theatre Production
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October 17-27, 2012
The play is set in England in the early fifteenth century. The political situation in England is tense: King Henry IV has died, and his son, the young King Henry V, has just assumed the throne. In order to gain the respect of the English people and the court, Henry must live down his wild adolescent past, when he used to consort with thieves and drunkards at the Boar’s Head Tavern on the seedy side of London.
Henry lays claim to certain parts of France, based on his distant roots in the French royal family and on a very technical interpretation of ancient land laws. When the young prince, or Dauphin, of France sends Henry an insulting message in response to these claims, Henry decides to invade France. Supported by the English noblemen and clergy, Henry gathers his troops for war.
Henry’s decision to invade France trickles down to affect the common people he rules. In the Boar’s Head Tavern some of the king’s former friends, whom he rejected when he rose to the throne, prepare to leave their homes and families. Bardolph, Pistol, and Nym are common lowlifes and part-time criminals, on the opposite end of the social spectrum from their royal former companion. As they prepare for the war, they remark on the death of Falstaff, an elderly knight who was once King Henry’s closest friend.
Just before his fleet sets sail, King Henry learns of a conspiracy against his life. The three traitors working for the French beg for mercy, but Henry denies their request. He orders that the trio, which includes a former friend named Scroop; be executed. The English sail for France, where they fight their way across the country. Against incredible odds, they continue to win after conquering the town of Harfleur, where Henry gives an impassioned speech to motivate his soldiers to victory. Among the officers in King Henry’s army are men from all parts of Britain, such as Fluellen, a Welsh captain, MacMorris and Irishman and Captain Jamy a Scot. As the English advance, Bardolph is caught looting and hung at King Henry’s command.
The climax of the war comes at the famous Battle of Agincourt, at which the English are outnumbered by the French five to one. The night before the battle, King Henry disguises himself as a common soldier and talks to many of the soldiers in his camp, learning who they are and what they think of the great battle in which they have been swept up. When he is by himself, he laments his ever-present responsibilities as king. In the morning, he prays to God and gives a powerful, inspiring speech to his soldiers. Miraculously, the English win the battle, and the proud French must surrender at last. Some time later, peace negotiations are finally worked out: Henry will marry Catherine, the daughter of the French king. Henry’s son will be the king of France, and the marriage will unite the two kingdoms.
Shakespeare’s histories are the best of all things Shakespeare. They are funny, violent, intense, romantic and even have hidden identities. At least Henry V does. This particular cut of Henry V was done by Hisa Takakuwa and myself and was created for 8 actors--4 men and 4 women. Each of the actors play multiple characters and they ALL play King Henry.
One of the criticisms of the play is that King Henry is almost a different person in each of his 8 scenes in the play. Actually having a different person play him in each of these scenes highlights this even more. When 8 actors tell the story in this way you can’t help but ask, ’What does it mean to be a leader?’ and, ’What does it mean to be a follower?’ The modernity and simplicity of this particular production of HENRY V pushes the questions even further to us today.
|Adapted by||Hisa Takakuwa|
|Directed by||Marianne Savell|
|Assistant Director||Dixie Lee Trimm|
|Music Director||Andrew J. Craig|
|Fight Director||Stewart Hawley|
|Costume Designer||Nadine Grant|
|Scenic & Lighting Designer||Kris Dietrich|
|Stage Manager||Anna Bryant|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Jennie Barney & Alex Fortin|
|Technical Director||Rebekah Bert|
|1st Henry, Bedford, Boy, Alice, Williams & Constable of France||Madison Parrott|
|2nd Henry, Bishop of Ely, Montjoy, MacMorris, Court & Bourbon||Anna Rebmann|
|3rd Henry, Bishop of Canterbury, King of France, Grey, Salisbury & Bates||Daniel Wimberly|
|4th Henry, Glouscester, Pistol, Dauphin, Cambridge & Govenor of Harfleur||Thaddeus Morris|
|5th Henry, Westmoreland, Bardolf, Jamy, Duke of Burgundy||Tymothe Thompson, Jr.|
|6th Henry, Clarence, Quickly, Fluellen, Erpingham, Queen of France||Rachel Anderson|
|7th Henry. Scroop, Gower, Katherine, French Messenger, French Soldier & York||Alexia Valente|
|8th Henry, Exeter, Nym, Orleans||Ethan Polson|
This particular version was first produced in 2005 at Actors Co-op in Hollywood, CA, directed by Hisa Takakuwa.