Austin Shakespeare presents Henry V, a one-man adaptation by B. Iden Payne Award-winning actor/director and Austin Chronicle Arts Editor Robert Faires, September 4-14 in the Rollins Studio Theatre.
5 years. 75 minutes. 20 years. 1 day. These time stamps are imbedded in this Henry V experience.
It’s been 5 years since the show was first staged at the Off Center. Five years in which time director Catherine Weidner has transitioned from faculty member at DePaul University to chair of the department of Theatre at Ithaca College and has become engaged to be married; Robert and I sent our daughter off to college where she is now entering her senior year at UT/Austin; Robert’s father and my mother have passed away.
In the 75 minutes it takes this story to unfold, Robert weaves a tale of an untested and underestimated king of England who discovers unimagined deep wells of strength, resolve, heroism, compassion, humility, and bravery as he leads an outmanned army of English soldiers to conquer and ultimately unite France and England. We travel over the English channel and back again, fight battles across the continent, return Henry to England a hero all with one actor, a stool, a bench, a bowl of water, a handkerchief, a flashlight, a thermos, 3 coins and an apple. Not to mention the gorgeous and spectacular lighting from the feverishly inventive mind of Jason Amato.
This one-man version of Henry V was 20 years in the making. Robert first conceived of the play in 1989 as he was researching the Tempest and came across a story of a production by Dallas artist Fred Curchack who had adapted the play for himself, using only some masks, some lamps, a few costume pieces and props to present all the assorted characters and settings. His imagination sparked, Robert began to imagine a solo show of Henry V and one night over dinner in San Diego (where we lived at that time) in 1991 he performed 10 minutes of the show he had put together using a bowl of water and a flashlight. Catherine Weidner was at that dinner in our apartment. 20 years later she was engaged to direct this show for its initial run and she’s in Austin today directing this Long Center version.
We open in 1 day. There’s a familiarity to the rehearsals and there’s absolutely new territory too. We’ve lived five momentous years. We all have five years of artistic endeavors between us including shows on which we’ve performed, directed, written, produced. We bring all of that to this play, this incarnation, this production. Here. Now. Today. Now. Four……..three………two……….one……go!