SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARKING LOT TO PRESENT “HENRY VI PART 3” IN SUITS
July 27 – August 3, 2017, 7:00pm - 9:00pm, La Plaza / Parking Lot
Production compares Wars of the Roses with our current political polarization and illuminates the tenacity of irreconcilable conflicts, including current civil and sectarian wars.
WHERE AND WHEN:
July 27 to August 12, 2017
La Plaza @ The Clemente Parking Lot, 114 Norfolk Street (E. side of Norfolk St. between Delancey and Rivington)
Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:00 PM
Subways: F to Delancey Street, M to Essex Street.
Presented by The Drilling Company
Info call 212-877-0099 or visit www.shakespeareintheparkinglot.com and www.drillingcompany.org
Running time: 2 hours. Critics are invited on or after July 29.
Photos are available at: https://goo.gl/photos/K1NERhEXcYVB4nrv5
NEW YORK, June 23 — We can gain insight into our current polarized politics from Shakespeare’s plays on the Wars of the Roses. That’s why Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, presented by The Drilling Company, will present “Henry VI Part 3” from July 27 to August 12. The play, which is seldom done, lays bare the passions of the Medieval English war between York and Lancaster. In doing so, it illuminates the animosity between today’s Republicans and Democrats on one hand and the tenacity of irreconcilable conflicts, including current civil and sectarian wars, on the other. Hamilton Clancy directs.
The Drilling Company has been producer of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot since 2006 and is also the exclusive producer of Shakespeare plays in Bryant Park.
“Henry VI Part 3” revisits the late 1400’s, when a series of wars for control of the throne set the House of Lancaster (symbolized by a red rose) against the House of York (symbolized by a white one). This play is one of four in Shakespeare’s canon (“Henry VI, Parts 1-3” and “Richard III”) that deal with the horrors of these conflicts, which threw the stable country into pandemonium as families broke down and moral codes were vitiated for the sake of payback and power. Hamilton Clancy’s adaptation will dress the characters in suits, not armor. He explains, “This is the best play in the canon to reflect our current political polarization. The pitched battle between the two sides seems impossible to reconcile, and that is how we find the public discourse between Republicans and Democrats today.”
Clancy says, “Our political discourse is very violent already. We of course are hopeful that it does not get any more violent than it has been recently.” He explains that the company considered doing “Julius Caesar” and “Richard III,” but considered “Henry VI Part 3” a better match for the confusion of our current time. “It better reflects the antagonism of the two sides and we believe that it matches public discourse on leadership and politics,” he says.
The play is also the most violent one in the Shakespeare canon, with more battle scenes (four on stage, one reported) than any of the other plays.
Of course, there are some differences between 15th Century England and our current situation. “It doesn’t line up exactly,” says Clancy, “so you won’t see Trump or Gingrich in it.” But putting it in a contemporary setting will make it easy for people to recognize that we are in a political battle. He explains, “We are looking for opportunities to elucidate how violence is not just the violence of weaponry. It is also the violence of legislation that would cause destruction to people.”
Clancy also sees the play as instructive on political nepotism. Originally, he thought of interpreting the two houses like crime families, but discarded that approach because “although some of it matched, we have gotten numb to crime family things.” Still, he concedes, “we have a leader who delegates power to his family and talks like a gangster. And loyalty is how he does business.”
“Henry VI Part 3” is infrequently produced. The Public Theater presented the three parts of Henry VI in Central Park in 1970 as the heavily adapted “Wars of the Roses,” directed by Stuart Vaughan. The institution presented the three plays again in 1996 in two three-hour parts at its Astor Place location, directed by Karin Coonrod. Last year, BBC offered the play as part of its four-part series, “The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses.” Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, now 23 years old, has never before presented this history play and there is no record of it being produced in any other parking lot. But in their day, Shakespeare’s plays of battle, intrigue and betrayal were immensely popular and tremendously entertaining. Their formula precedes such modern analogues as “House of Cards.” Their moral impact could also not be overstated: the father-and-son battle scene in “Henry VI Part 3” is one of the most heart-rendering battle scenes in the canon.
The play’s central point of focus is Henry VI himself, whom Clancy views as “historically a kind of pacifist” and who tried unsuccessfully to navigate a compromise between the two warring sides. The play contains provocative dialogue about the role and possibility of peacemaking during societal conflict. The King will be played by Schuyler Gallun, who as of this writing is appearing in “Terezin,” an acclaimed World War II play on Theater Row.
Parking Lot regulars will recognize Richard of Gloucester as Alessandro Colla, revisiting a role he vividly discovered as Richard III in the Parking Lot in 2013. Lady Margaret will be played by Evangeline Fontaine, who played opposite Colla as Kate in The Drilling Company’s “TheTaming of the Shrew” in Bryant Park in 2015. The cast also incudes Joe Clancy (Rutand), Rice Dutton (ensemble), Eddie Fields (George), Brad Frost (Westmoreland), Skyler Gallun (Henry VI), Christopher Gooley (ensemble), Bill Green (York), Kyle Maxwell (Warwick), Erin Noll (Prince Edward), Kendra Oberhauser (Lady Grey), Ben Peterson (Exeter), Lee Seymour (Edward) and Ross Stoner (Clifford).
Assistant director is Maggie Goldberg. Stage Managers are Em Hornbeck and Joseph Treimanis. Assistant Stage Manager is Rachel Jeffries.
ABOUT SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARKING LOT
Shakespeare in the Parking Lot (SITPL) was begun in 1995 by Expanded Arts under the artistic direction of Jennifer Spahr. When Ms. Spahr retired in 2000, an organization known as Ludlow Ten was formed under the direction of Leonard McKenzie. The Drilling Company began co-producing SITPL with Ludlow Ten in 2001. After Mr. McKenzie’s retirement in 2005, The Drilling Company was asked to continue the great tradition of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. A chronology of the year-by-year offerings in the unique setting is available on the Shakespeare in the Parking Lot website, www.shakespeareintheparkinglot.com. The concept of free Shakespeare in a parking lot, presented with a “poor theater” aesthetic, is now widely imitated around the US and around the world, with productions as far away as New Zealand.
In 2014, having lost its Parking Lot when the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area gave way to a giant mixed-used development, The Drilling Company sought a new location in the Lower East Side to continue the spunky Lower East Side tradition. After a nine-month search, the new space adjacent to The Clemente, on Norfolk Street between Delancey and Rivington Streets, was arranged. Like the previous location, it is a working parking lot and has the urban, gritty atmosphere that has made these productions memorable through the years. It is just three blocks from the municipal parking lot where the annual Free Shakespeare festival originated.
Again this year, Shakespeare in the Parking Lot will have a two-show season, with “All’s Well That Ends Well” July 6 to 22 and “Henry the Sixth Part Three,” directed by Hamilton Clancy, July 27 to August 12.
ABOUT THE DRILLING COMPANY
Beside producing Shakespeare, The Drilling Company (www.drillingcompany.org), led by Artistic Director Hamilton Clancy, is an incubator of new American plays. It produced new works in an intimate theater space at 236 West 78th Street, formerly 78th Street Theater Lab, from 1999 to 2014 and is presently seeking new digs for this aspect of its work. The company is also the exclusive producer of Shakespeare plays for Bryant Park Presents Shakespeare. Info on Bryant Park events: www.bryantpark.org.
IF YOU GO
“Henry VI Part 3” will be performed July 27 to August 12, Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:00 PM and all admission is free. Seats are available on a first come first served basis, with audience members often arriving early to secure a place. Audience members are welcome to bring their own chairs. Once seats are gone, blankets are spread out. No one has ever been turned away and there’s never a wait for tickets.
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CRITICS ARE INVITED on or after July 29.
Photos are available at: https://goo.gl/photos/K1NERhEXcYVB4nrv5