Bill Alexander directs the history plays, in which we see the boyish Prince Hal rise to the throne and become the man who will roar in Henry V. Coincidentally, Lincoln Center Theater is presenting an adaptation of both plays its 2003-04 season, as well.
According to Shakespeare Theatre notes, "From pieces of historical record, myth, rumor, Tudor revisionism and contemporary affairs, Shakespeare forged two history plays that soar to the heights of his tragedies, are as playful as his comedies and have the full grandeur of any chronicle of any time. In Shakespeare’s canon, the Henrys fall in the middle of his second tetralogy, between Richard II and Henry V."
Director Alexander is honorary associate director for the Royal Shakespeare Company and former artistic director of the Birmingham Repertory. He previously staged Troilus and Cressida for the DC not-for-profit devoted to Shakespeare and classic and modern stage works.
Each Henry will run seven weeks, followed by two weeks of both plays in revolving repertory.
The company's work will be seen at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts during its 2004 festival , "Tennessee Williams Explored." From April 21 to May 9, 2004, Shakespeare Theatre will present Five By Tenn, directed by artistic director Michael Kahn and featuring five of Williams' one-acts, including four world premieres. According to The Shakespeare Theatre's season announcement, "In the 1930s and '40s, a young, still unknown Williams honed his craft writing one-act plays exploring a variety of story lines and theatrical scenarios. A number of these one acts, delving into life during the Depression, were published in a book titled 'American Blues.' Decades later, two scholars came upon the remaining unpublished and unproduced one-acts. Well aware of the plays' importance, they turned to Kahn, a close friend and collaborator of Williams, to determine which of the new finds merited a reading and possibly a future full staging."
Kahn's stagings of Williams' work, both on Broadway and at The Shakespeare Theatre, have garnered awards and high praise. During the 2001-2002 season, Kahn selected three of Williams' one-acts for a staged reading as part of The Shakespeare Theatre's ReDiscovery Series. This reading, featuring And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens… and Escape, played to a standing room-only crowd.
The 2003-04 Shakespeare Theatre season includes:
Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac (June 8-Aug. 1, 2004), directed by Michael Kahn, in which the ugly but poetic Cyrano — he with the elongated nose — helps Christian pursue Roxanne in a time of war. For information about The Shakespeare Theatre, call (202) 638-3863 or visit www.shakespearetheatre.org.