Five reasons you should see the Rep’s new production of “Henry V”

5. Avery Clark. With “Henry V” you have a chance to see a handsome production of one of Shakespeare’s top shelf history plays, which comes on the heels of the Rep’s terrific production of “Hamlet” in 2010. Rep audiences are lucky enough to witness Avery Clark in the title role in both plays.  Clark is one of those rare actors who is in command in every moment he’s on stage. There are two scenes in “Henry V” where Clark’s powers seem especially present. The first is at the beginning when young king Henry is on his throne and is given the mocking gift of a trunk of tennis balls by the Dauphine of France. Clark is so still and calm in this scene that you take notice when he lifts a hand to direct the attendants in his court.  Then, near the end, as Henry is wooing non-English speaking Katherine (played by Nikki Coble) to be his queen, Clark displays his uncanny comic timing. The scene just floats off the stage and the audience responds with sustained laughter.

4. The cast of “The 39 Steps” is reunited.  Joining Clark on stage in “Henry V” is the rest of the Rep’s cast from the hilarious production of “The 39 Steps” – Coble is the would-be queen who first ducks Henry’s kiss, Jason Guy pulling double duty as Chorus and Montjoy and Collins as the discipline-loving Welch soldier Fluellen.  This quartet that was so strong in “The 39 Steps” is no less so in “Henry V.” Don’t know if there is another play in the Rep’s future that would have roles for all four but one can hope.

3. Local actors shine.  Director Bob Hupp has put together a strong cast for this “Henry V”  and it includes a number of local faces who happen to be very busy during the course of the production. Michael Bartholmey plays three roles (Grey/Messenger/York),  Andrew Curzon, a freshman at Parkview Arts and Science High School plays Boy, Sheila Glasscock is Mistress Quckly and Alice, Bill Jones takes on three roles (French Ambassador/Erpingham/Bourbon) and Ed Lowry plays Bardolph and Gloucester. There is not a weak link among these actors in supporting roles.

2. A different Shakespeare.  The more one is exposed to Shakespeare, the more one can appreciate how the great dramatist was an entertainer as much as poet and profound thinker.  “Henry V” is at once a carefully balanced underdog tale (Henry’s ragtag forces are constantly being noted as sick as well as outnumbered by the massive French army before they triumph), a meditation on honor and the high cost of battle along with precise moments of levity (in nobody’s hands but Shakespeare’s would a scene as simple as Katherine’s instructions in English by her attendant Alice be written much less as fun as it is). Of course there are Henry’s rousing speeches to his troops (“Once more into the breach, dear friends”) and the Chorus’ attempt to paint the scene (“Can this cockpit hold/The vasty fields of France”) as prime examples of Shakespeare’s word sorcery.  In short, “Henry V” is a rich buffet and the Rep’s production serves it all up with flavor to spare.

1. Celebrate Mike Nichols.  With this production, Mike Nichols, the Rep’s resident set designer and technical director Mike Nichols, celebrates 30 years with the company. His set for “Henry V” is another one of his signature playing spaces. Wood beams shoot to the sky beside a platform equipped with a pair of wooden screens. It is both functional world for the army of actors and a visual knockout which is, of course, exactly what a theatre space must be. Rep audiences are truly lucky to have someone as talented and dedicated to his craft as Nichols. There are simply not that many designers who have remained at one theatre for the course of their career. An exhibit of Nichols’ work – sketches and photos from past shows – is on display in the bar on the second mezzanine.  It is worth the time to check out the singular creative output of this master artist.

Clinton School Speaker Series with the cast of Henry V

Clinton School of Public Service Distinguished Speaker Series

Thursday, Sept. 6 | 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Clinton School of Public Service, 1200 President Clinton Avenue

This Thursday, join Rep Producing Artistic Director and Henry V director Bob Hupp as he hosts Avery Clark (Henry V), Nikki Coble (Princess Katherine), D.C. Wright (Fight Director) and Mitch Tebo (Archbishop of Canterbury ) from The Rep’s upcoming production of Henry V for a panel discussion on one of Shakespeare’s most famous history plays.

Call the Clinton School at (501) 683-5239 for reservations.

Dance Fight: Battle Choreography in Arkansas Rep’s Henry V

 

Watch as Fight Director D.C. Wright explains how stage combat is planned and rehearsed for maximum impact with minimum injury. 

 

 

Stage combat is risky business. One wrong move, and serious injury could result. That’s why professional Fight Directors are in charge of staging fight scenes that are visually thrilling, while maintaining safety for all actors involved. The choreography is approached much like a dance sequence. Except in this case, the dancers are trying to kill each other.

Fight scenes are planned and then first rehearsed with wooden poles at half speed. Once the actors become trained in the sequences, they move up to using stage weapons. While not razor sharp, the swords, axes and spears you’ll see in the battle scenes at Henry V are replica weapons and could cause major injury if not handled properly. Cast members rehearse fight scenes before every performance to maintain form and precision.

Watch the dramatic battle of Agincourt live on stage. Advance Tickets to Henry V are on sale until Friday.

Medieval Weaponry, King Henry’s War

Watch as Fight Director D.C. Wright explains the history and use of the Medieval Broadsword, and how weapons and armor were used during the time of Henry V and during the famous battle of Agincourt. 

 

 

Henry’s motivation to invade France may certainly be bolstered by the urging of the clergy, who have self-interested motives as evidenced by the parliamentary bill mentioned at the play’s start. But the seed for such action had been planted by his father at the end of 2 Henry IV.

The English army began the invasion with a siege on Harfleur that lasted for 5 weeks. The land on which they were fighting was made of marshes, which were swarmed with flies, and the only available food (rotten fruit and shellfish) led to fever and dysentery. Within a month, some 2,000 English soldiers were dead. Many more were sick enough to be sent home to England.

Though Harfleur was won on September 22, the victory was at a devastating cost. Henry had lost at least a third of his men.

Still, the king made the decision to advance to Calais, 150 miles away. They were met along the way by the French, near Agincourt. It had been raining for a week at Agincourt and rained heavily the night before the battle. This development would soon prove to be the English army’s salvation.

On the morning of October 25, the Feast of St. Crispin, both sides prepared for battle. The English formed three lines across, with archers in between. Henry himself led the center line. Sharpened stakes were set in front of the men as a defense against the French cavalry.

Because the French army was so large and the space was so small, a line formation was impossible. Instead, the French formed a column, deployed in three ranks one behind the other, with cavalry on each side and crossbowmen between.

When the French cavalry and infantry began their attack, their heavy armor began to sink in the mud, making them easy targets for the English archers. The few French who managed to reach the English line were met with short swords, axes and mace clubs.

The second wave of attack met with the same fate, and the third wave fled, leading the English to declare victory at Agincourt. The French losses were extraordinary. Out of approximately 20,000 men, 7,000 were dead. The English had lost around 1,600.

Watch the battle of Agincourt unfold and the story of young King Henry V play out live on stage. Purchase Advance Tickets to Henry V today.

Against Incredible Odds: Henry V

Avery Clark goes to war as King Henry V in Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of Henry V. Photography by Justin Bolle, ThinkDero Photography. © Copyright 2012 Arkansas Repertory Theatre. All rights reserved.

In a muddy field in northern France, a small group of English soldiers prepare for the battle of their lives. After marching in the rain for days on end, they are sick, soaked, and starving. It is October 25, 1415.

Against incredible odds, outnumbered and depleted, they will fight valiantly and victoriously to triumph in a battle that will become one of the most famous moments in English history. Their leader is King Henry V.

Shakespeare’s Henry V is one of a series of eight plays on medieval English history. We meet Shakespeare’s Henry in the plays which come just before it in sequence – Henry IV, parts 1 & 2 – where he is portrayed as the young, riotous, defiant Prince Hal.

Henry V is where the young king becomes the full-fledged hero of British folklore. He is determined, brave, brilliant, eloquent and charismatic. Henry makes the bold decision to invade France to renew an old claim on the French throne.

Henry is burdened with the task not only of facing the force of the enemy, but of unifying a wide variety of voices and perspectives into one nation. The king is also at war with his own past, mindful of the fact that his father came to the throne by overthrowing the previous king.

Following the astonishing English victory at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the King of France declared Henry V heir to the French throne and gave him his daughter’s hand in marriage. Princess Katherine of Valois thus became the Queen of England in 1420.

Shakespeare’s stunning play highlights the contradictions of war, its horrors alongside its glories, and creates in the character of Henry V a man who struggles to reconcile the ambiguities of his own existence. The result is a story that is dynamic, thrilling and powerful.

“From his confrontation with the close friends who betray him to his wooing of the French princess, Henry V is such a compelling character,” says Director Bob Hupp. “A young king, untested, driven by ambition, strives for redemption and power through the cauldron of war and redefines his world in the process.”

Learn more about The Rep’s upcoming production of Henry V at our preshow talks, our luncheon panel at the Clinton School of Public Service or our Laman Library series.

Advance Tickets to Henry V are on sale through Sept. 7 and can be purchased here.

Soldier, Hooligan, Hero: Henry V

At the time of his death in 1422, King Henry V of England had been a serious soldier and a hopeless hooligan, a model of piety and a maker of history, an ambitious king and a beloved hero. He was only 35 years old.

Henry V was the second English monarch who came from the House of Lancaster. After his father’s death in 1413, he rapidly assumed control of the country and embarked on an ambitious expedition to claim his right to the French throne.

Avery Clark as King Henry V.

His military successes in the Hundred Years’ War and his famous victory at the Battle of Agincourt led Henry V close to conquering France. After a peace treaty was negotiated between England and France during the Hundred Years’ War, King Charles acknowledged Henry V as his heir. Henry was subsequently married to Charles’ daughter, Katherine of Valois.

Katherine of Valois was the daughter of King Charles VI of France and his wife Isabelle of Bavaria. After marrying Henry at Troyes Cathedral in 1420, Katherine went to England with her new husband and was crowned queen in Westminster Abbey.

Nikki Coble as Katherine of Valois.

In June 1421, Henry returned to France to continue his military campaigns. Katherine gave birth to Prince Henry later the same year. Sadly, the boy and his father would never see each other. During the siege of Meaux, Henry V contracted dysentery and died on August 31, 1422.

Before she was 21, Katherine was a widow and the Dowager Queen of England. Three years after the death of Henry V, she remarried and had a son who would become the father of the first Tudor king, Henry VII.

Learn more about The Rep’s upcoming production of Henry V at our preshow talks, our luncheon panel at the Clinton School of Public Service or our Laman Library series.

Advance Tickets to Henry V are on sale through Sept. 7 and can be purchased here. The production opens in two weeks.

Photography by Justin Bolle, ThinkDero Photography. Avery Clark as King Henry V. Nikki Coble as Princess Katherine. © Copyright 2012 Arkansas Repertory Theatre. All rights reserved.

Avery Clark Returns to Arkansas Rep as King Henry V

“From his confrontation with the close friends who betray him to his wooing of the French princess, Henry V is such a compelling character,” says Rep Producing Artistic Director and Henry V Director Bob Hupp. “A young king, untested, driven by ambition, strives for redemption and power through the cauldron of war and redefines his world in the process.”

Avery Clark as Hamlet

Arkansas native Avery Clark most recently appeared in The 39 Steps in 2011 and as Hamlet in 2010, and will portray the young King Henry V in The Rep’s season opening production.

With the death of his father, young King Henry casts off the trappings of youthful misadventures and transforms into a leader of men. With his country wracked by strife, mocked by the French and eager to assert his birthright, Henry launches a rash invasion that culminates in the fateful battle of Agincourt. Weary and grossly outnumbered, the English face near certain defeat, but Henry’s inspirational leadership turns the tide of war and turns a man into a legend.

“The power of Henry V lies in its contradictions,” says Hupp. “Valor and cruelty, greed and generosity, honor and treachery. These contradictions make the play immediately accessible to a modern audience and help bring the characters to vivid life on the stage.”

NEA GRANT FOR HENRY V TO BENEFIT ARKANSAS STUDENTS

Arkansas Repertory Theatre is the only performing arts organization in Arkansas to receive this year’s Shakespeare for a New Generation grant from Arts Midwest. The Rep will offer its production of Henry V to more than 20 schools through student matinee performances over a three-week run, reaching more than 1,500 students across Arkansas. The Rep reached more than 5,000 students last season through its Student Matinee Program.

Henry V is politics, it is history, it is the human condition in extraordinary circumstances,” says Hupp. “To be able to explore these ideas with students across central Arkansas is a central objective of our work this fall. We look forward to bringing The Rep’s first foray into Shakespeare’s history plays to vivid life for audiences of all ages, and especially, with the help of this important grant, to enriching the experience for young audiences through a greater understanding of the creative, historical and cultural context of the play.”

Rep’s 12-13 Season to Set Sail in September

“We welcome you to set sail with us in September through a season of exciting contrasts; plays and musicals that demand to live on a stage and that reflect theatrical storytelling at its most dynamic and creative,” says Bob Hupp, Producing Artistic Director at Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

“We’ll celebrate the triumph of the human spirit and reveal incredible art in the ordinary, while also exploring the dark side of the American Dream. We’ll experience epic tales as one young leader strives for redemption and power while another becomes caught up in a dangerous world not of his making. And we’ll laugh and sing along with the warm nostalgia of holidays gone by and a hysterical adult comedy in two completely different but utterly charming musical productions,” says Hupp. “Every season is a journey, but this season is truly an adventure.”

THE 2012-2013 MAINSTAGE SEASON

“From this day to the ending of the world, but we in it shall be remembered, we few, we happy few, we band of brothers.” William Shakespeare’s Henry V will open The Rep’s season and run September 7 – September 23, 2012.

Directed by Robert Hupp, Henry V is at once an indictment of war and a testament to valor in the face of overwhelming odds as an adventurous young king must grapple with absolute power.

With the death of his father, young King Henry casts off the trappings of youthful misadventures and transforms into a leader of men. With his country wracked by strife, mocked by the French and eager to assert his birthright, Henry launches a rash invasion that culminates in the fateful battle of Agincourt.

Weary and grossly outnumbered, the English face near certain defeat, but Henry’s inspirational leadership turns the tide of war and turns a man into a legend. The power of Henry V lies in its contradictions: Valor and cruelty, greed and generosity, honor and treachery.These contradictions make the play immediately accessible to a modern audience and help bring the characters to vivid life on the stage.

“From his confrontation with the close friends who betray him to his wooing of the French princess, Henry V is such a compelling character,” says Hupp. “A young king, untested, driven by ambition, strives for redemption and power through the cauldron of war and redefines his world in the process.”

Up next is The Rep’s Young Artists’ Production, an annual performance by The Rep’s SMTI (Summer Musical Theatre Intensive) theatre training program October 24 – November 3, 2012. The most talented young artists in the state always deliver some of the most feel good shows of the season!

Conceived and directed by The Rep’s Resident Director and Director of Education Nicole Capri, this year’s show is all about the actor’s journey from stardust to stardom and is titled “Singin’ on a Star.” These young artists will celebrate a rite of passage to the Broadway stage – waiting tables! With song selections from the pop charts and the Great White Way, The Rep’s starving young artists sing about big dreams in the big apple this fall.

“The Rep’s Young Artists have established themselves as a defining characteristic of this theatre. Their enthusiasm and spirit leaps across the footlights and combines with their amazing talent to create unforgettable experiences each season,” says Hupp.

Celebrate the holidays with a musical as fresh as the season’s first snow. You’ll want to snuggle up with the entire family for this funny and heartwarming musical adaptation of the perennially popular Paramount Pictures classic, White Christmas, running November 30 – December 30, 2012 and directed by Nicole Capri.

Following World War II, a pair of song and dance men with romance on their minds follow a duo of beautiful singing sisters en route to their Christmas show at a Vermont inn. Once they arrive, they realize the inn is owned by their old Army commander and a lack of seasonal precipitation has the inn facing hard times.

Through delightful plot twists and a dazzling Irving Berlin score that includes “Blue Skies,” “I Love a Piano,” “Happy Days,” “It’s Cold Outside” and of course, “White Christmas,” the fellows launch an all-out campaign to save the inn and win the sisters’ hearts.

White Christmas is the perfect holiday musical,” says Hupp. “It’s a trip down memory lane for those who remember the music and the movie, and it’s sure to inspire new appreciation for the timeless songs of Irving Berlin – one of America’s greatest composers – for younger generations.”

The new year brings another new production to The Rep stage with Gee’s Bend, written by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder and directed by Gilbert McCauley, January 25 – February 10, 2013.

Confronting segregation, the Civil Rights Movement and family turmoil, Gee’s Bend follows the life of Sadie Pettway and the women in her sewing circle, who turn to quilting to provide comfort and creative expression to their lives.

What begins as a labor of love and necessity soon turns into a spiritual and artistic awakening. Pieced from discarded clothes and seasoned with laughter and tears, the women sew a patchwork of inventive abstract designs in rich, blazing colors. Stitch by stitch, the stories of these strong women are revealed as their experiences unravel and inspire them to create what the New York Times would call “miraculous works of modern art.”

Gee’s Bend celebrates the triumph of the human spirit and reveals art in the ordinary,” says Hupp. “The unique story of the quilts of Gee’s Bend is an inspiration and we are proud to tell this uplifting story on The Rep stage.”

The true story of the women of Gee’s Bend has already touched millions who viewed their stunning work through a national exhibition tour and features in Newsweek and Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine. “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend” have been exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others.

Just in time for spring, The Rep will set sail on the adventure of a lifetime: the world premiere of Treasure Island, A New Musical, March 8 – March 31, 2013.

Through the eyes of its young hero, Treasure Island, A New Musical reexamines the essence of heroism, the journey to manhood and the strength of the human spirit.

Directed and choreographed by Brett Smock, with book by Brett Smock and Carla Vitale and music and lyrics by Corinne Aquilina, this musical offers a fresh, new take on the famous story by Robert Louis Stevenson, set to a thrilling musical score and full of action, adventure and excitement as treasure hungry pirates and mutinous crew battle to discover the coveted Isle of Treasure.

Bored by his mundane life at the Admiral Benbow Inn, and entranced by the mysterious Captain Billy Bones and his wild seafaring tales, young Jim Hawkins yearns for a life of adventure. His wish is soon granted as members of the infamous Captain Flint crew pursue Bones and his hidden treasure map.

When Bones dies in a struggle for the map, Jim narrowly escapes with his life and Bones’ prize possession. With a sturdy crew in place led by Long John Silver, and with Jim under the protection of a doctor, a nobleman and a stoic ship’s captain, they set sail in search of their fortunes. As greed escalates, mutiny threatens and loyalties are forever broken.

Armed and hungry for the treasure, the camps arrive where “X” marks the spot. Will they find the treasure? And if so, at what cost? Rep audiences will be the first to find out!

“This thrilling tale introduces us to a young boy caught up in a world not of his making, a world of greed and betrayal,” says Hupp. “With a fresh new take on the famous story that defined the idea of adventure, this production shines anew as we all embark on the journey.”

Never has the pursuit of the American dream been more relevant than it is today. Up next in the season is Death of a Salesman, directed by Robert Hupp, and running April 26 – May 12, 2013.

“Attention must be paid,” wrote the legendary Arthur Miller, the playwright who brought us The Crucible, All My Sons and A View from the Bridge, in this classic tragedy first published in 1949. Death of a Salesman went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Tony Award for Best Play and the New York Critics’ Circle Best Play award.

Some critics claim Death of a Salesman is the greatest American play. Rep audiences have the opportunity to decide for themselves as Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning drama explodes on The Rep stage for the first time.

Traveling salesman Willy Loman is at the end of the road. Broke and desperate, with his world closing in around him, Willy escapes into a world where the past is more real, and more hopeful, than the present. His advice to his sons “Be well liked and you will never want,” falls flat in the face of their failure. His loving wife watches helplessly as he drifts further off the road.

Unable to gain traction in a world that has passed him by, Willy’s life spirals out of control on the downside of the dream. The haunting poetic realism of Miller’s milestone play captures the essence of an American tragedy that is as powerful and relevant today as it was when it was written over 50 years ago.

“Miller’s language transports us into a world where we are all reflected, and where we ignore his desperate warning at our own peril,” says Hupp. “Death of a Salesman gives Rep audiences the opportunity to witness American playwriting at its zenith.”

Closing out The Rep’s season is Avenue Q, one of the longest-running shows in Broadway history and Winner of the Tony “Triple Crown” for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. On stage June 7 – June 30, 2013 and directed by Robbie Harper, Avenue Q is part flesh, part felt and packed with heart.

More South Park than Sesame Street and not appropriate for children, Avenue Q is a raunchy, laugh-out-loud puppet musical that tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. There, he meets Kate (the girl next door), Rod (the Republican), Trekkie (the Internet sexpert), Lucy the Slut (need we say more?) and other colorful types who help Princeton finally discover his purpose in life.

Avenue Q was co-created by Robert Lopez, who also co-created the recent Broadway hit The Book of Mormon with Comedy Central’s “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and received Tony Awards for both works. Named “Best on Broadway” in 2003, critics universally called Avenue Q “the most fun onstage this year!”

“We’ve had so many requests for this musical and finally, after years of trying, we have the rights to produce Avenue Q on our stage,” says Hupp. “It’s truly one of the funniest musicals I’ve ever seen.”

SEASON SUBSCRIPTIONS

Season Subscriptions are on sale now and start at $180. Call The Rep’s Box Office at (501) 378-0405 or subscribe online here. Single ticket sales open to the public in August.