TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama’s department of theatre and dance presents Shakespeare’s soaring history play “Henry V” from Tuesday, Feb. 24, to Sunday, March 1, in the Marian Gallaway Theatre.
In “Henry V,” which is set in England and France during the 1400s, the archbishop of Canterbury, worried over impending legislation that would rob the church in England of its power and wealth, convinces Henry V to forego this pursuit in favor of laying claim to France.
Armed with a legal technicality, Henry means to take the throne of France by whatever means necessary. The dauphin’s insulting response — sending an ambassador with a gift of tennis balls — convinces Henry that the French will only respond to war; thus, he arranges for an army to invade France.
Rebellion, however, has always seemed to follow when the king’s away, and Henry makes certain that he leaves behind enough troops in England to quell any potential uprising. That leaves him with a relatively small invasion force. Can Henry overtake the French army, and at what price is he willing to pay?
Placed on an arena stage, specifically designed for this production, “Henry V” will draw the audience into Shakespeare’s historical drama. Set designer Rick Miller has put the action of the play (including numerous battle scenes) in the audience’s lap; the result is a dynamic and engrossing piece that will have the audience on the edge of its seat.
“Henry V” will also feature percussion from the Nozomi Daiko – Taiko Drum Group. They provide a driving beat and forceful sound that pushes forward the action of this epic work.
“In this production, we have chosen to focus on the very question of leadership itself- both in times of war and peace,” said Seth Panitch, the show’s director and fight choreographer “To that end, we are taking a closer look at the leader himself, as much as the action swirling about him.
“In these precarious times, as a new leader takes the reins of a country in turmoil- both domestically and internationally, ‘Henry V’ takes on an even greater resonance. We look to our leadership to charge headlong into the problems before us, but never to disconnect from us. We demand they lead us into war and into peace, and to know which is called for when.
“Leaders of this magnitude do not emerge- they are forged, and it is that forging process that we are privy to when we watch a king emerge at the end of ‘Henry V.’”
“Henry V” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24, to Saturday, Feb. 28, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, and Sunday, March 1. The Marian Gallaway Theatre is on Stadium Drive at Marr’s Spring Road in the UA Theatre District.
Tickets are $15 for adults ($13 + $2 service charge), $13 for UA faculty, staff, and senior citizens ($11 plus $2), and $10 for students ($8 plus $2). Tickets can be bought from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the box office in Rowand-Johnson Hall; by visiting www.crimsonartstickets.com; or by phoning 205/348-3400.
The department of theatre and dance is a part of UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state. Students from the College have won numerous national awards including Rhodes Scholarships, Goldwater Scholarships and memberships on the USA Today Academic All American Team.