England is on the brink of civil war. The crown beckons young, unruly Prince Henry to withdraw from drunkard revelry with wayward friends and turn towards an honourable reign. But will he answer the call before its too late?
Emma Rosa Went (Director of As You Like It, Richard III) returns to Scranton Shakes to direct (her own abridgement!) of Shakespeare’s epic family drama.
Adapted & Directed by
Musical Orchestration, Melodica & Penny Whistle
Else C. Went
Doll Tearsheet/John of Lancaster
Lord Chief Justice/Sheriff/Ensemble
Blunt/Peto/Humphrey of Gloucester
Thomas of Clarence
Luke Antony Neville
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Here's a somewhat frightening confession,
perhaps no play in the canon has had a greater personal impact on my life than Henry IV. I first directed it in my final year of college, and it was that process that crystallized my desire to become a professional director. I not only returned to it in New York just two years later with my first theatre company, but a line of Hotspur's also gave that company (Easy Leap Theatre Company) its name. I have part of a line of Falstaff's tattooed on my inner right wrist. It is a play I have continued to mysteriously orbit both as an artist and an audience member, and this is our third time together, give or take an adaptation. If I have a home in the canon, this is my home.
At least, it has been for the past decade. When I first fell in love with Henry and its conflicts, poetry, and vivid interior life, I was just 21 years old. The major questions that propel its heroes – What does it mean to grow up, to face responsibility? Is it possible to do this without giving up something deep within yourself? If not, what will I lose? What have I already lost? – all feel very different to me now. I look around this play now and see myself not only in Hal and Hotspur, but also in Henry, also in Falstaff, in Doll, in Poins, in Shallow... in the whole choric voice of a nation poised on the brink of a shift, bracing for the changes to come, wishing we could all just gather for a drink, a laugh, a song.
And speaking of voices – reentering in this new way has been a strange and unexpected gift. Words that I never saw as important before have skipped across the play like stones across a lake, parallels in the relationships have felt richer (fathers and sons, rivals and mentors) and the language has never felt more nimble in its humor, or more cutting in its psychology. This is all because of listening. Deep, rich listening, which revealed the play to me (because of these 14 actors' extraordinary performances, powerfully enhanced in every moment by Else's sound design) in a fresh way. It thrills me to think of you with us, listening too. I am always grateful to come home to the work, but this unforeseen challenge also taught me a timely lesson – just when I thought I knew the play so well, I met it again. Everywhere you've been can be made new. Almost ten years ago, it felt to me like the whole world was in Henry IV, and today, when I want the world (even in all its volatility) with me more than ever, I still think that. I am more grateful than ever that some of my best friends live in this play.