Folger Theatre- Washington, DC
THE WASHINGTON POSTAppleman commandingly occupies center stage of director Robert Richmond’s capital new staging of “Henry V” at Folger Theatre, for, perhaps, the most stirring version of a Shakespeare history play this city has seen in a decade. Tautly constructed and impressively spoken, Richmond’s production converys with the savvy deployment of a mere 13 actors (one of them a fiddle player) the evolution of a leader from petulant boy-soldier to lion-hearted royal statesman…Richmond works nimbly with magnetic actors -Peter Marks
THE WASHINGTONIANRobert Richmond ‘s production, is an outstanding interpretation of the fourth and final installment of the Henriad tetralogy, combining a raucously funny approach with a thoughtfulness about war and its legacy. -Sophie Gilbert
BROADWAY WORLDPut quite simply, Robert Richmond’s presentation of the epic war play is one of see. It’s a solid example of the magic that can happen when solid acting, direction and production values make a strong play that much more compelling. -Jennifer Parry
MD THEATRE GUIDEWhat makes this production of “Henry V ” so startling, so fantastic, is the pure breath of hmanity that Richmond and his fabulous ensemble of actors have given to its story. -Robert Michael Oliver
DIRECTOR’S NOTESOn your imaginary forces work…
Shakespeare’s Henry V is one of the most compelling plays in the Classical canon and remains as relevant, potent and morally uplifting today as it did to the Elizabethan audiences. From the Laurence Olivier 1944 film, full of triumph and jingoistic national pride, to Kenneth Branagh’s darker 1989 movie, made on the heels of the Falklands War, the play never fails to speak to each generation. In 2012 alone there were 4 major productions of the play ranging from as far a field as the Globe in London, Stratford Shakespeare Festival Ontario, Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, and PlayMakers Rep, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In preparation of this production I was very lucky to have seen most of them.
What is it about this play that makes it so appealing? For the creative team and myself it is the meta-theatrical device of Shakespeare’s Chorus and his frank request that the audience must collectively use their imaginations. Without this necessary ingredient this great epic story will not come to life. This simple notion became the springboard for our production and we set about how to transport the story from present day to the courts of England and France, and the epic battles and sieges of 1415, with a very open hand. We ask you to help us imagine these events, share in the expreince, and never forget that you are complicit in the action every step of the way.
Here then, upon an open scaffold, dressed in Elizabethan clothes, 13 actors will present this play about victory and unification while exploring the humanity that sits beneath the surface of this play. For among the fabulous rhetoric and the pageantry is a complex story full of subtlety. It is the story of a young man’s rite of passage, a story of a nation dealing with the effects of war, a story that focuses on a nation unifying behind a leadership for the greater good. It deals with the human cost of war on all levels of society and touches poignant themes such as nation building, patriotism, and war crimes.
Henry V is a young man capable of greatness, but brutal in effect. He seeks guidance with his personal and moral obligations, and his duty and responsibility as a King. Perhaps at this time in Washington D.C. a play about leadership might be a barometer by which we can form an opinion as to where our society sits, and what we should, or should not, become in the future? Perhaps it allows us to better identify with the isolation that leadership can cause, the responsibilities it carries, and the need to keep close to the people that follow them. Henry is able to unify the English, the Welsh, the Irish and the Scotts, make peace with France, and put and end to ideological polarity. It was a remarkable achievement in 1415.
Above all, we hope that you enjoy this production and you will “Piece out our imperfections with you thoughts.”
Helen Hayes Awards
Outstanding Lighting Design, Resident Play
Andrew F. Griffin
Director– Robert Richmond
Scenic Design—Tony Cisek*
Costume Design—Mariah Hale
Lighting Design—Andrew F. Griffin*
Original Music/Sound Design—Michael Rasburry
Original Music—Jessica Witchger
Fight Director—Casey Dean Kaleba
Resident Dramaturg—Michele Osherow
Production Stage Manager—Che Wernsman**
Promotional Photography—James Kegley
Production Photography—Scott Suchman