Monday, May 21, 2012

Henry VIII: Rule of Three

Rehearsal of "Henry VIII" at the Ensemble Theatre.

In order to truly understand this play, the entire thing, it helps to already have a detailed knowledge of English history at that time. Shakespeare's (and Fletcher's) audience would have, and there are reference, sometimes casual references, to famous Lords and Cardinals. The work includes several Earls and additional Dukes.

This stripped-down version concerns itself with the machinations leading to fatal downflaws for Lord Buckingham, Cardinal Wolsey, and the near-downfall of Cardinal Cranmer. Three schemes to eliminate those close to the King, on that last of which fails because Henry finally sees how he has been manipulated, and steps in to say, no. Not this time.

Adapting this courtly, historical drama into a modern setting eliminates the possibility for the kind of pageantry one might expect from a party, a coronation and the birth of a princess. However, in discovering the work (even as we speak, during the rehearsal process) there will be three points that use music and/or movement to emphasize, illuminate or aggrandize key moments in the production. Or maybe more. But I will tell anyone who asks that there are only three.

Some will sing. All will be expected to learn the salsa.

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