Friday, June 13, 2014

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis Presents 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, and Henry V

1 Henry IV and 2 Henry IV. Dir. Tim Ocel. Henry V. Dir. Bruce Longworth. Perf. Jim Butz, Anderson Matthews, Gary Glasgow, Joneal Joplin, Tony DeBruno, Michael James Reed, Jerry Vogel, Alex Miller, Reginald Pierre, Andrew Michael Neiman, Charles Pasternak, Chauncy Thomas, Antonio Rodriguez, Drew Battles, James Hesse, Dakota Mackey-McGee, Kari Ely, Kelley Weber, Eric Dean White, Mason Conrad, Michael Williams, and Dan Haller. Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. St. Louis, Missouri. 2014.

I've wanted to see a Shakespeare Festival St. Louis production for many years, but I'm not usually in St. Louis when they're putting on shows—which is a genuine shame, as I've heard marvelous things about their take on the plays.

I tried to go last night, and I managed to be able to take in a lot of the surrounding and supporting material of the play—but the rain became increasingly torrential, and I, drenched and cold, left at 7:00. The show eventually went on, but it started around 8:40, and I couldn't (alas) have made it that long.

But I urge anyone in the St. Louis area to try it out. It's free, it's outside (which is normally quite pleasant), and you can bring your own chairs or blankets and have a picnic while you watch the show. Additionally, there are lots of fun things to occupy you as you await the beginning of the show. At 6:30, for example, a group of high school students did a twenty-minute version of the play. I was impressed by its use of the text of the play (rather than paraphrase) for most of the story; the actors also did an impressive job. There's also a jester wandering around the crowd (last night, he was having fun imagining that various people in the audience were weasels and exploring the implications of their weaselhood) and "The Wheel of Will," which allows audience members to spin a wheel. Whatever it lands on (sonnet, tragic speech, et cetera), the actors have to do.

You can also take a look at the plot summary of Henry V in the image below (click to enlarge it).

I've also heard that Jim Butz is a really astonishing actor. Some have said that his Hamlet was the best they've ever seen, and the reviews point to his doing a marvelous Henry V as well. In short, go and see it if you possibly can!

Links: The Official Web Site for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis.

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Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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