Henry VI Part 1

Union Hall, Student Union Building, Victoria University, Wellington

12/10/2009 - 14/10/2009

The Compleate Workes Project

Production Details


Henry VI Part 1 is a collaboration between the newly formed VUWSA Shakespeare Club and The Bacchanals, and a sequel in parts to the Summer Shakespeare production of Henry V, with several actors reprising their roles from Henry V and several others playing new characters but as their Henry V ones! (hooray for archetypal dodgy bishops!) 

Amongst the big huge crazy cast of 23 are Alex Greig playing York, Salesi Le’ota playing Gloucester and Allan Henry playing Talbot. And the director playing Mortimer, Sir John Falstaff (!) and Joan of Arc’s father!

It’s the first play in the quartet that consists of the three Henry VI plays and Richard III, and we’re intending to stage the others in due course but thought we’d start with Part One and see how we got on. It’s not Shakespeare’s greatest play by any stretch of the imagination, but is a LOT of fun with many interesting and unusual elements – the quarrel between the Duke of Gloucester and the Bishop of Winchester; the picking of white and red roses as symbols of civil war; the heroic Talbot leading the charge in far too many battle scenes; and Joan of Arc!!  And, of course, the first appearance of Falstaff!

We’ve been treating it as a weird kind of Star Wars prequel, which is what it is – story-wise it comes right after the events of Henry V, but was written nearly 10 years beforehand, and exists partly to set up plot elements for parts two and three. 

We play for THREE NIGHTS ONLY (because of peoples’ crazy timetables), on MONDAY 12 OCTOBER, TUESDAY 13 OCTOBER and WEDNESDAY 14 OCTOBER (because of crazy venue availability), at the Union Hall in the Student Union Building at Victoria University (because it has an upper level and a discovery space!). The show is at 7pm each night, about 2 hours 20 minutes, and costs only $10 (which coincidentally is about the entire budget for the show!). 

You can book by e-mailing tickets@thebacchanals.net 

Edmund Mortimer Earl of March Walter Plinge
A Gaoler Allan Henry
Richard Plantagenet rightful Duke of York Alex Greig
Princess Katherine of France widow to Henry V Alison Walls
The infant Henry VI Jacob Weatherhead
The Duke of Bedford brother to Henry V Thomas Horder
The Duke of Gloucester brother to Henry V Salesi Le'ota
The Duke of Exeter uncle to Henry V Anais Alcorn Goldsmith
The Bishop of Winchester uncle to Henry V James Barber
Three Messengers Daniel Watterson, Lori Leigh, Eleanor Stewart
Charles, the Dauphin supposedly rightful King of France Jackson Coe
The Duke of Alençon Melanie Duncan
Reignier Duke of Anjou and King of Naples Hannah McKie
The Bastard of Orleans Blair Everson
Joan Puzel a peasant Jess Aaltonen
Two Warders at the Tower of London Jackson Coe, Alice Lean
Woodville Keeper of the Tower of London Kirsty Bruce
The Mayor of London Emma Rose Luxton
The Mayor's Officers Ralph Upton, Eleanor Stewart

The Master Gunner of Orleans Blair Everson
The Master Gunner of Orleans' Son Anais Alcorn Goldsmith
Sir John Talbot a Ninja Allan Henry
The Earl of Salisbury hero of the Battle of Agincourt Brooke Smith-Harris
Sir Thomas Gargrave speaks two lines and then dies Emma Rose Luxton
Sir William Glansdale gets one line and survives Ralph Upton
A Messenger Alex Greig
A French Sergeant at Orleans Ralph Upton
A French Sentinel at Orleans Alison Walls
The Duke of Burgundy a supporter of the English Laura Feslier
A Soldier who likes stealing clothes Alice Lean
A Messenger serving the Countess of Auvergne Jackson Coe
The Countess of Auvergne a countess Louise Burston
The Countess' Porter a porter Alice Lean
The Earl of Warwick supporting York Kirsty Bruce
The Duke of Somerset Ralph Upton
The Earl of Suffolk supporting Somerset Blair Everson
Vernon supporting York Alice Lean
A Lawyer Emma Rose Luxton
King Henry the Sixth Daniel Watterson
Factious Servants of Gloucester and Winchester Alice Lean, Laura Feslier, Eleanor Stewart, Louise Burston
A French Soldier who likes holding a sack at Rouen Alice Lean
A doorkeeper at Rouen Blair Everson
An English Captain at Rouen Brooke Smith-Harris
Sir John Falstaff a Knight of the Garter Walter J. Plinge
Bassett supporting Somerset Emma Rose Luxton
The Governor of Paris Hannah McKie
A French Captain at Bordeaux Eleanor Stewart
A Messenger That Meets York Louise Burston
Sir William Lucy a messenger Lori Leigh
A Captain serving Somerset Daniel Watterson
John Talbot son to Talbot Thomas Horder
Talbot's Servant Brooke Smith-Harris
A Papal Legate Thomas Horder
A French Scout Alice Lean
Margaret daughter of Reignier, later Queen of England. Kills Gloucester in Part Two Alison Walls
A Shepherd father to Joan Walter J. Plinge
English Courtiers, French Soldiers, English Soldiers, Priests, Sentinels, Nuns, Watchmen, Fiends played by Members of the Company

Stage Manager Brooke Smith-Harris
Set Design Thomas Horder
Publicist Louise Burston RCM Melanie Duncan 
Meat Puppet & Fly-By Co-Ordinator Louise Burston
Frock Monitor Jess Aaltonen
Headband Facilitation Alice Lean
Virtual & Viral Josh & Mia Judkins
Poster & Flyer Design by Santa's Little Helper
Placement Controller Fiona McNamara
Fights by Allan Henry
Directed by David Lawrence

2hrs 45 min, incl. interval

Shakespeare lives at Vic!

Review by John Smythe 13th Oct 2009

If you think Shakespeare’s histories are tedious talk-fests where most of the lively action happens off stage, hie thee – tonight or tomorrow (it’s only on for 3 nights!) – to this Ninja warriors meets Star Wars treatment of Henry VI Part 1. It positively seethes with action, humour and drama without ever sacrificing meaning and understanding.

As with all the Shakespeares directed over the years by David Lawrence, everyone on stage knows what they are saying and doing, is totally engaged in the action, commits fully to a clear interpretation of their character’s viewpoint and contributes whole-heartedly to the ensemble scenes.

What makes this production especially remarkable is that a blend of 23 professional and student actors play 63 characters plus assorted English courtiers, French Soldiers, English Soldiers, priests, Sentinels, Nuns, Watchmen and sundry Fiends. There is not one weak link in the entire ensemble.

Although this is a sequel of sorts to Henry V – also directed by David Lawrence, for this year’s VUW Summer Shakespeare with many of the same cast and crew – it was written nearly 10 years earlier. It is part of the ‘Wars of the Roses’ cycle which covers the civil wars in England between the Houses of Lancaster and York, dramatised by Shakespeare – with a fair bit of artistic licence – as: Richard II; Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2; Henry V; Henry VI Parts 1, 2 & 3 and Richard III.

Mainly it goes from the death of Henry V to Henry VI’s first faltering steps as monarch, taking in a range of political and warring factions. Coloured head-bands are used to denote the English (red) and French (blue), and a range of sub-groups within, and red and white roses clearly denote who is on whose side in England.

This is the war in which Joan Puzel (Joan of Arc) leads the French troops and she proves a worthy adversary to the England’s battle-hardened Talbot. A King, a Dauphin, Dukes, Duchesses, Earls, Bishops, Mayors, soldiers, servants, messengers … They all play their roles to excellent effect in this superbly modulated production.

You may not be able to write an essay on the events after a single viewing but you’d probably do pretty well with multiple choice questions, such is the vividness of the characterisations and interactions.

It would take forever to mention everyone separately but the Allan Henry-directed fights – of which there are many (why report a battle when you can show it?) are brilliantly done: never gratuitous and always elucidating the bigger story.

That this has been done the week after Pericles at the same university, with a completely different team of people, just shows how rich and deep the Shakespeare-loving talent is at Victoria University. Bravo!  
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


John Smythe October 14th, 2009

How embarrassing! In my haste to complete the Henry 6 Part 1 review (above) before the short season closed, my opening sentence raised the spectre of “tedious talk-fests where most of the lively action happens on stage” when of course I meant “off stage”. My point being that in this production there is much vivid action on stage. Error now fixed.

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