Monday, 25 April 2016

Henry V

This is rather different from my usual blogs. Look on it as a bonus posting. It's really just for the benefit of people who were involved with Henry V on Saturday, but feel free to read on and enjoy if it appeals to you.

The Wallace Collection celebrated Shakespeare's birthday on Saturday with an unrehearsed performance of Henry V. A bunch of people, recruited online and given parts without auditions, turned up in whatever costumes they thought appropriate and, without direction or rehearsal, put on a performance.

We did have an amazing venue, though.

I didn't get to see it (and, in any case, I might have been the tiniest bit biased) but the audience certainly seemed to enjoy it. As my beloved put it: "It makes you wonder why most plays bother with rehearsals and a director." Certainly, as I rushed through my four lines, I found I was entirely concentrating on telling the Constable of France to get on and start fighting. I couldn't worry about how to project to the audience (it was in the round). I didn't have to think about where the director had told me to stand (he had refused to give any direction at all). I was just there in the moment and it gave the whole play an intensity that those of us doing the playing really appreciated.

Anyway, if you were in it and don't have any photos, these might be better than nothing.

Producer, Main Man and all-round Good Egg, here playing Chorus: Andrew Hobbs

SP Howarth bigging it up as Henry
We were all terribly impressed that Henry's girlfriend had made him an actual proper costume. Others had resorted to their imagination. It takes a certain something to wear a wooden spoon instead of a sword, and yet, somehow, it worked. (Note gender-neutral casting.)

Jessamy James as Captain Gower

Some of the costume ideas were pure genius. Here, Henry, disguised in his cloak, goes among the soldiers. You can tell they're English soldiers as at least some of them are wearing England football shirts.

Here a Robin Hood costume from a fancy dress party gets a new lease of life.  

I must admit to having doubts about the sword, but we were very definitely told that real swords were forbidden, which seems a little odd, remembering where all this is happening.

Here we are waiting to go on. Oh, the glamour of life backstage!

And here is my 15 seconds of fame, telling the Constable of France to get his finger out and stick it to the English.

And here the French troops are ordered forward. This turns out to have been a bad move, which is pretty much the point of the play.

Anyway, a few thousand dead Frenchmen later, we came in to take our bows.

Here I am, grinning like an idiot. What an amazing way to spend St George's Day!

I think everyone involved had so much fun - even the audience. It was a fabulous day.

Many thanks to everyone who made it happen.

1 comment:

  1. Once more unto the dragon ... ?

    What a tantalizing taste of a day I would have enjoyed witnessing! Thank you for sharing a bit.