Shakespeare's Globe in London will be touring William Shakespeare's three Henry VI plays around the United Kingdom under their original titles—Harry the Sixth, The Houses of York & Lancaster, and The True Tragedy of the Duke of York—starting in York and taking in four War of the Roses battlefields from June to September 2013.
The tour will open at the York Theatre Royal, the perfect setting for a sequence propelled and shaped by the royal ambitions of the House of York. Four all-day performances of the three plays will also be staged in the open air at War of the Roses battlefields in Towton, Tewkesbury, Barnet, and St. Albans, which saw some of the bloodiest battles in the country's history. It is thought that the Battle of Towton alone claimed 28,000 lives. This will be an unprecedented theatrical event, exploring the links between English history, English literature, and English landscape.
The Henry VI plays begin with the death of Henry V and together chart the entirety of his son's turbulent reign. They encompass the stories of Joan of Arc, who is burnt at the stake at the end of Harry the Sixth, and Jack Cade, whose short-lived peasant rebellion is depicted in The Houses of York & Lancaster. At the heart of all three plays is the lethal struggle between York and Lancaster. The black comedy that builds with each reversal of power in The True Tragedy of the Duke of York ultimately sets the stage for the ascent of Shakespeare's demonic Richard III.
Overflowing with intrigue and violence, this was Shakespeare's first blockbuster history sequence and firmly established his reputation as one of the most popular playwrights of the Elizabethan age.
Although usually performed as a trilogy, the Henry VI plays were not intended as such, and each one can be enjoyed without knowledge of the others. The Globe will present each of the three plays as stand-alone productions, emphasizing their individual strengths and qualities, while also providing the rare opportunity to see all three staged in a single day. Battlefield performances will take place on simple booth stages, offering audiences an authentic experience of early modern theatre.
The three plays will be directed by Nick Bagnall, whose previous directing credits include Betrayal (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield) and Entertaining Mr. Sloane (Trafalgar Studios). Bagnall is joint artistic director of the Milton Rooms, Malton.
Designer Ti Green was nominated for two Tony awards and an Outer Critics Circle award for her set and costumes for Coram Boy (Imperial Theatre, New York). She was also nominated for an Evening Standard Theatre Award for her design of The Revenger's Tragedy (National Theatre).
Composer Alex Baranowski recently composed the soundtrack to the BAFTA–nominated film McCullin. His theatre credits include Macbeth (Trafalgar Studios), The Cripple of Inishmaan (Noel Coward Theatre), and Ballet Black (Royal Opera House).
Henry VI dates and venues:
May 28, 2013