In an incredibly exciting new production of Henry V, Damien Ryan has directs his first mainstage production for acclaimed theatre company Bell Shakespeare. Henry V will be coming to NORPA for three performances only 19 & 20 September.
Ryan’s contemporary take on this classic taleabout a king who unites a nation with his eloquent words and ideasis inspired by a true story; for 57 consecutive nights during the Blitz in 1941, a group of boys stuck in a bunker started a ‘Boy’s Club’, where they would rehearse a new play each week, including Shakespeare’s works and then perform it for the other people in the shelter.
“We don’t know which Shakespeare plays they performed, but with England on the precipice and Churchill comparing the fighter pilots to the “happy few” at Agincourt, it is hard to imagine that a Henry V would not have struck their hearts,” said Ryan.
A single character opens all five acts preparing the audience to think of the stage as the fields in France. The play begins with the young king of England, Henry V, in an angry dialogue with King Charles of France, an argument that escalates into war.
Having been manipulated by church advisors, taunted by French royalty and betrayed by English nobles, the young King Henry invades France in order to claim his right to a kingdom and to the daughter of the King of France.
The climax of the war comes at the famous Battle of Agincourt. As the English forces look towards the heavily armoured and highly skilled French lines, outnumbered five to one, morale of the troops is low. On the day of the battle, Henry rouses his army from their fears with his powerful St Crispin’s Day Speech, a speech that inspires his army to victory.
Ryan’s affinity for this play is evident: “It’s the eloquence of this story that has always captured me. It’s a celebration of courage, determination, that bullish underdog spirit and the eternal rite of passage that turns boys into men, war. But is also a horrifying indictment of our addiction to conflict and our susceptibility to propaganda and spin.”
This is a story of religious manipulation, loose justifications for pre-emptive conflict, betrayals of trust, the slaughter of prisoners, the possession of women as pawns of imperialism, and the final futility of the exploits of war.
“Shakespeare knew that the pride that makes us great, also makes us monsters and that the things that inspire us can also cost us more than we realise,” said Ryan.
Bell Shakespeare’s HENRY V
NORPA at Lismore City Hall
Friday 19 September – 11am & 7:30pm
Saturday 20 September – 7:30pm
Olive & Luca diner, bar & live music from 6pm
Duration 2hours, 30min
Tickets A $47 / Senior $42 / Concession $40 / Under 18 $20 / Groups of 4 of more $40 per ticket
Patron advice: Recommended for 15+ years
For further information visit norpa.org.au
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