DruidShakespeare – Preview by Emily Elphinstone
This morning saw a very exciting announcement, as Druid revealed full details of their latest project: DruidShakespeare, to mark the company’s 40th anniversary year celebrations.
DruidShakespeare tackles four of Shakespeare’s history plays: Richard II, Henry IV (Parts 1 and 2), and Henry V; which represent a ‘key foundational narrative of the British Monarchy’. However, this isn’t simply another production of the bard’s work. Instead, ‘The Henriad’ has been taken on by playwright Mark O’Rowe, who is adapting the plays into a new pared down version, which can either be watched in two parts, or in one 6 hour epic.
This may seem sacrilegious to hardcore Shakespeare fans, but we are assured by O’Rowe that his contribution is “much more an act or editing, reshaping, and rearranging” than rewriting. There are also very clear reasons why the original text must be approached in a new way. “The question we are asking is how, in the context of the historical relationship between Ireland and England, do we, as Irish artists, produce these plays today?” says Artistic Director Garry Hynes. Not only are the Irish presented in a savage light by Shakespeare throughout his History plays; but also, while many British productions present the military characters in army uniforms, putting squaddies on stage would have a completely different connotation for Irish audiences.
Once the plays are opened up in this way, there is an exciting opportunity to present the themes and characters in an entirely new way: “The act of imagination transcends nationality, character, geography and background, and we see no reason why it shouldn’t transcend gender too” continues Hynes. “Accordingly, our actors have been cast without regard to their own gender. For example, the three kings – Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V – are played by one male and two female actors. This decision further allows us to look at these plays of war and patriarchy through another lens.”
Though there are no Dublin dates currently booked, there is an exciting tour ahead for DruidShakespeare. This will premiere in Druid’s home: The Mick Lally Theatre, Galway; utilising ‘not only the theatre, but the whole building and whole neighbourhood, spilling out onto the street.’ This will then continue on a national tour, including Kilkenny Arts Festival; as well as heading to New York for the Lincoln Centre Festival. The website went live this morning, and tickets are on sale from 10am on Monday.
For more information, go to www.druid.ie/druidshakespeare.
Director – Garry Hynes
Associate Director – Design – Francis O’Connor
Associate Director – Movement – David Bolger
Assistant Costume Designer – Doreen McKenna
Lighting Design – James F. Ingalls
Sound Design – Gregory Clarke
Music Director – Conor Linehan
Booking Opens 9:00am GMT Monday 09 March 2015
Galway – 09 – 31 May – The Mick Lally Theatre
Letterkenny – 03 – 06 June – An Grianán Theatre
Sligo – 09 – 13 June – Hawk’s Well Theatre
Castlebar – 16 – 19 June – TF Royal
Limerick – 22 – 27 June – Lime Tree Theatre
Skibbereen – 29 – 30 June – Town Hall
New York – Lincoln Center Festival – 07 – 19 July – Gerald W. Lynch Theater
Kilkenny – Kilkenny Arts Festival – 06 – 15 August – The Castle Yard