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.