'Henry V' marries comedy, history
Those who think that Shakespeare’s history plays are tedious and long will be pleasantly surprised by Lee Street Theatre’s upcoming production of Henry V. Funny and fast-paced, this show is true to the Elizabethan tradition of popular entertainment. “For a heroic saga,” director Joe Falocco notes, “this play has an awful lot of jokes.”
The playwright juxtaposes Henry’s lofty inspirational verse with prose comedy that focuses on bilingual efforts to woo Princess Katherine of France. This production’s abridged script also reflects the practices of Elizabethan theatre.
“Most modern stagings of Shakespeare are too long,” Falocco says. “The ‘acting edition’ of Henry V used by Shakespeare’s company (as evidenced by the Quarto of 1600) would have run about an hour and 20 minutes: just a little bit longer than our production” (which lasts one hour).
Nor are the minimal resources of the Looking Glass Artist Collective an impediment. “Lee Street is the perfect venue for this play,” Falocco says. “The Black Box’s small stage is the ‘unworthy scaffold’ described in the opening chorus. With no scenery or lighting cues, we will actively engage the participation of the audience, enlisting their ‘imaginary forces’ in telling this epic story.”
The creative team behind this endeavor, which includes Catawba College professors Missy Barnes and Bethany Sinnott as well as Catawba alumnus Brie Smith, hope that this production might lead to an annual summer Shakespeare event in Salisbury.
“I did a one-man show last year,” says Falocco, referring to “Shakespeare’s Villains,” which played at Lee Street in July 2010. “This year we’re using a six-person cast. Maybe next year we can employ a full company of 15.” Costumes and weaponry, including two enormous broadswords wielded in the climactic battle of Agincourt, are on loan from the Catawba College Theatre Department.
“I never knew Shakespeare could be so much fun,” says Robert Jones, Lee Street producer.
“Henry V” will feature Aaron Alderman in the title role and an ensemble of Missy Barnes, Joe Falocco, Cody Gasque, Jacquelyn Loy, and Dustin Sullivan. Other than Falocco and Barnes, the cast members are all theatre majors at Catawba College.
“This is an excellent opportunity for my students to get real-world experience,” Barnes observes. “Here they have to apply what we teach at Catawba in a limited rehearsal period that mirrors the work ethic of a professional company.” • • •
Lee Street Theatre will present Shakespeare’s “Henry V” at 7:30 p.m. July 13, 14, 15 and 16 in the Looking Glass Artist Collective’s Black Box Theatre at 405 North Lee Street in Salisbury.
Tickets on July 13 are $5. All other performances are $10.
For additional information, please contact (704) 754-2321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.