June 22, 2012… The epic story of King Henry V’s battle with the French during the Hundred Years’ War comes alive on the Festival Theatre stage in William Shakespeare’s historical drama Henry V. The production, directed by Artistic Director Des McAnuff, begins previews on June 24.
“We live in an era when war in foreign lands is again very much on our minds,” says Mr. McAnuff, “and Henry V is one of the greatest dramas about war ever written. In part, that’s because Shakespeare doesn’t take sides: this is neither an overtly anti-war play nor a jingoistic celebration of military glory. Instead, it confronts head-on all the paradoxes and ambivalences inherent in warfare and raises the kinds of questions we still struggle with today. When is war justified? What are its rules of engagement? And how do you hold on to your moral compass in the heat of combat?”
Though written as the final part of a tetralogy (preceded by Richard II, Henry IV, Part 1and Henry IV, Part 2), Henry V is a self-contained drama in its own right. It tells the story of the young king seeking to unite his strife-torn kingdom by launching a campaign to seize the throne of France. But after his invasion’s initial success, the king finds himself facing a vastly superior French force on the fields of Agincourt – and with it, the ultimate test of his leadership.
“I started my Shakespeare career by directing Henry IV, Part 1 in New York,” says Mr. McAnuff, “and it has long been a dream of mine to tackle the other plays in the cycle. So it means a lot to me to be doing Henry V – especially here at Stratford. This Festival can present these epic plays, these vast canvases, on a scale that most theatres simply can’t match. It is immensely rewarding to be staging this action-packed yet profoundly thought-provoking work with one of the greatest theatre companies in the world.”
“Des’s imagination is limitless and he has a way of harnessing the powers and resources of the theatre to create a spectacular production that is both visually and emotionally stunning,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “His production of Henry V this season will be a case in point: our audiences can expect to be held on the edge of their seats and completely engrossed in one of Shakespeare’s most legendary dramas.”
The production features Aaron Krohn as the title character. Mr. Krohn made his Stratford debut as Lenny in last season’s production of The Homecoming and appeared in Mr. McAnuff’s production of Twelfth Night. His Broadway credits include The Farnsworth Invention, The Coast of Utopia and Julius Caesar. He has also worked extensively off-Broadway and on television and has performed many voices for several anime films, including Kaji in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Murakomo in Blue Seed and Go in Super Atragon.
Mr. Krohn will be joined on stage by Ben Carlson as Captain Fluellen, Juan Chioran as Montjoy, Deborah Hay as Alice, Tom Rooney as Ensign Pistol and Timothy D. Stickneyas the Duke of Exeter.
Artistic credits for this production include Set Designer Robert Brill, Costume Designer Paul Tazewell, Lighting Designer Michael Walton, Composer Michael Roth, Sound Designer Peter McBoyle, Dramaturge Robert Blacker, Choreographer Nicola Pantin, Fight Director Steve Rankin and Associate Director Lezlie Wade.
Henry V is sponsored by Scotiabank. Production support is generously provided by Claire & Daniel Bernstein, Jane Petersen-Burfield and Family, and Catherine and David Wilkes.
This production is dedicated to the memory of John Neville, Artistic Director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival from 1986 to 1989.
This year, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival celebrates its 60th season, with 14 productions presented from April 12 to October 28: Much Ado About Nothing; 42nd Street; The Matchmaker; Henry V; You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; The Pirates of Penzance; A Word or Two; Cymbeline; Wanderlust; Elektra; MacHomer; The Best Brothers; Hirsch; and The War of 1812.