HENRY IV (parts I & II)

Playwright: William Shakespeare
Director: Alec Harrington
set: Tom Sturge
costume: Michael Oberle
original music: Andre' du Broc
fight direction: J. David Brimmer

Performance Schedule:
May 17, 2001
Thursday - Sunday 8:00pm
Sunday Matinee 2:30pm
First Floor Theatre

Long before the invention of television, Shakespeare created the Historical Miniseries. Spanning twelve years, encompassing royalty and the underworld, tragedy and comedy, Shakespeare's Henry IV plays tell the story of the turbulent reign of King Henry and of the coming of age of his son Prince Hal the future Henry V. Director Alexander Harrington thinks audiences should have the chance to savor the two plays together, and so will stage them in rotating repertory with his Eleventh Hour Theatre Company from May 17 to June 3 in La MaMa's First Floor Theater. Over the course of the two parts, the audience will get to know the characters with an intimacy that is unknown in traditional two-hour plays.

Part One treats English history from deposition of Richard II to the defeat and death of Henry Percy (Hotspur) at the Battle of Shrewsbury (1403). Part Two continues the history from the Battle of Shrewsbury to the death of the King. The two plays date from about 1598. Much of their interest depends on the famous comic character, Sir John Falstaff, whose scenes are a foil to the serious action and at the same time, used to reveal the humanity of Prince Hal.

Discounted tickets are being offered for the two-play package and neighboring restaurants are offering discounted meals for theatergoers attending. Theatergoers can see a matinee of Part I and evening performance of Part II on Sunday, May 27 or Sunday, June 3 and receive a discounted meal at participating neighborhood restaurants by presenting their playbill.

Eleventh Hour Theatre Company is becoming known for its distinctive style of bare-boned Shakespeare with gorgeous acting and vocal work. The company debuted at La MaMa in 1999 with "Henry V" and subsequently presented its own "Richard II" at HERE, both times to vigorous acclaim by critics including the New York Post's Donald Lyons, who applauded the productions' superb performances and clarity of vision.

Alexander Harrington made his La MaMa debut in April, 1997 with a mostly-musical staging of Aeschylus' "Agamemnon" in the Annex Theater. That production took the unusual step of making the chorus the star, emphasizing the play's elaborate choral poems and choral dialogues and employing a sound-score by composer John Allman. The Eleventh Hour Theatre Company was formed right after "Agamemnon" and performed its first Shakespeare play, "Henry V," at La MaMa in 1999. The company is committed to classical plays which tell stories, present human beings and ideas in all their complexity without passing judgment, and strives to offer the audience a transcendent experience.

Harrington is son of author and socialist activist Michael Harrington ("The Other America"). He started out as an actor, performing as a child with Soho Rep and the Veterans Ensemble. Harrington was anti-war coordinator for the Democratic Socialists of America during the Persian Gulf War and was a youth delegate to the Socialist International in 1991. He directed his own adaptations of Chekhov's "The Kiss," Sherwood Anderson's "The Philosopher" and Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov" for Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab festivals at The Salon. Other productions include "Billy Budd" (Westbeth, Circle in the Square Downtown) and "The Family Hour (The Actors Studio). He is an original member of Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab and a member of the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit.

Harrington writes, "Works of this size and scope are rarely seen in the theatre, they have been relegated to the world of the television miniseries. Why must we enjoy epic performances only in our living rooms? Why can't we experience them with live actors, surrounded by the energy of a larger audience?"

Drew Cortese plays Prince Hal and John Ahlin plays Falstaff. Wilbur Edwin Henry plays Henry IV; Francis Henry plays Hotspur. The ensemble also includes Gary Andrews, Christopher Baker, Joel Carino, Gary Cowling, Andre' Du Broc, Andrew English, David Fraioli, Charles Goad, Thomas McCann, Lynne McCollough, Tiffany R. Nave, Jan Neuberger, Jason Manuel Olazabal, John Payne, Carolyn Roberts, Daniel J. Sherman, Jonathan Smit and Robin Taylor.
2001 page