Shakespeare's Globe at St Albans Cathedral
Tue, 16 July 2013
Henry VI Battlefield Performances Come to St Albans
“The strong company hurtles through the text with unstoppable momentum”
**** The Guardian
“Brutal, bawdy and fast-paced, this is a thrilling portrayal of a world in flux” The Stage
“Marvellous productions. Each play can stand alone. Bloody funny, rapier witted” The Press
Shakespeare’s Globe is currently touring the three Henry VI plays under their original titles – Harry the Sixth, The Houses of York & Lancaster and The True Tragedy of the Duke of York – and on Sunday August 11th the acclaimed performances come to St Albans.
The three plays will be staged outside at the West End of St Albans Cathedral as part of a series of open air performances at Wars of the Roses battlefields. This will be an unprecedented theatrical event, exploring the links between English history, English literature and English landscape. Each of the four battlefields – St Albans, Towton, Tewkesbury and Barnet – saw some of the bloodiest battles in the country’s history. It is thought that the Battle of Towton alone claimed 28,000 lives.
The Henry VI plays begin with the death of Henry V and together chart the entirety of his son’s turbulent reign. They encompass the stories of Joan of Arc, who is burnt at the stake at the end of Harry the Sixth, and Jack Cade, whose short-lived peasant rebellion is depicted in The Houses of York & Lancaster. Yet at the heart of all three plays is the lethal struggle between York and Lancaster. The black comedy that builds with each reversal of power in The True Tragedy of the Duke of York ultimately sets the stage for the ascent of Shakespeare’s demonic Richard III.
It is highly appropriate that these plays should be performed within the precincts of St Albans Abbey, one of the most important monasteries in medieval England. A leading character is Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, uncle of King Henry VI, Lord Protector during Henry’s minority and a close friend of the Abbot of St Albans, John Wheathampstead. One amusing scene is set in St Albans when Duke Humphrey shows that a blind man who claimed a miraculous cure was in fact a fraud. Duke Humphrey requested to be buried here in the Abbey near the shrine of Saint Alban, his favourite saint, and his sudden death in mysterious circumstances in 1447 is recorded in the play. Other scenes in St Albans vividly describe the first battle of the Wars of the Roses which took place here in 1455. The dead were buried in the Lady Chapel of the Abbey and in St Peter’s churchyard.
Although usually performed as a trilogy, the Henry VI plays were not intended as such and each one can be enjoyed without knowledge of the others. The Globe will present each of the three plays as stand-alone productions, emphasizing their individual strengths and qualities, while also providing the opportunity to see all three staged chronologically in a single day. Battlefield performances will take place on simple booth stages, offering audiences an authentic experience of early modern theatre.
Overflowing with intrigue and violence, this was Shakespeare’s first blockbuster history sequence and firmly established his reputation as one of the most popular playwrights of the Elizabethan age.
The three plays are directed by Nick Bagnall, whose previous directing credits include Betrayal (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield) and Entertaining Mr Sloane (Trafalgar Studios). Nick is joint Artistic Director of the Milton Rooms, Malton.
Designer Ti Green was nominated for two Tony awards and an Outer Critics Circle award for her set and costumes for Coram Boy (Imperial Theatre, New York). She was also nominated for an Evening Standard Theatre Award for her design of The Revenger’s Tragedy (National Theatre).
Composer Alex Baranowski recently composed the soundtrack to the BAFTA-nominated film McCullin. His theatre credits include Macbeth (Trafalgar Studios), The Cripple of Inishmaan (Noel Coward Theatre) and Ballet Black (Royal Opera House).
Day tickets £45 Box Office 020 7401 9919 www.shakespearesglobe.com
Tickets also available from St Albans Cathedral on 01727 890256.
Henry VI: Three Plays
26 June - 22 September Directed by Nick Bagnall Designed by Ti Green Composed by Alex Baranowski
Graham Butler: Henry VI
Simon Harrison: Richard/Charles the Dauphin
Beatriz Romilly: Joan of Arc / Duchess of Gloucester / Lady Grey
Mary Doherty: Queen Margaret
Gary Cooper: Duke of Gloucester
Gareth Pierce: Duke of Clarence
Roger Evans: Duke of Suffolk / Jack Cade
Brendan O’Hea: Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York / Lewis XI, King of France
Joe Jameson: John Talbot / Edmund, Earl of Rutland / The Son Who Killed His Father
26 Jun - 13 July York Theatre Royal
14 July Towton Battlefield
17 - 20 July Brighton Theatre Royal
23 - 27 July Shakespeare’s Globe
31 July - 3 August Malvern Theatre
4 August Tewkesbury Battlefield
7 - 10 August Milton Keynes Theatre
11 August St Alban’s Battlefield
21 - 25 August Shakespeare’s Globe
24 August Barnet Battlefield
28 - 31 August Belfast Grand Opera House
3 - 8 September Shakespeare’s Globe
11 - 14 September Oxford Playhouse
18 - 22 September Cambridge Arts Theatre
24 – 28 September Bath Theatre Royal