Friday, February 16, 2007

Henry V

Northwest Classical Theatre Company
Posted by Frenchglen February 10, 2007; closes March 11, 2007

Something from nothing. NWCTC gets mileage from this in-your-face (literally) performance at Shoe Box’s engaging, petrie dish-sized space. Bare stage setting showcases language, character, close-up nuance. More accessible than some other Shakespeare history plays. Distinctive ensemble ethic felt in show. A resplendent Leif Norby rides the waves of his kingdom.

88 comments:

Anonymous said...

Leif Norby is a theatrical god.

Anonymous said...

I heart Leif Norby

Anonymous said...

I melted in my seat watching Leif in the final scene. Had Katherine not said yes, I was going to jump on stage and say it for her.

Anonymous said...

Not as consistent as one or two other recent NW Classical productions, but there's a lot to like. Cast works hard through multiple roles and quick costume changes with varying amounts of success. Theater-in-the-round, or rather, in-a-sort-of-oval-pill, with actors spilling in from four corners makes for close, intense work; lots of eye contact (made me wonder: could I do that without losing my place?) and "bringing in" the audience as part of cast/court/armies by gestures. Allison Anderson and Bibi Walton jabber convincingly in French, Kenichi Hillis takes some hard hits on the noggin from a leek, and Norby is understatedly authoritative as V -- not a hint of bombast anywhere. One of the nice things about NWCTC is that they don't take Shakespeare too seriously.

Anonymous said...

I like Leif's work very much. I enjoy Noethwest classical theatre generally....I just wanted to ask Follow Spot if there was going to be an R&J thread. Blue Monkey's endeavor is quite admirable...keeping in mind that it's all young people. Just wondering?

Anonymous said...

Well...it's not ALL young people.

;)

Follow Spot said...

Yes, there will likely be a thread on Blue Monkey's R&J a little later on... Sorry for the delay; schedule logistics.

Anonymous said...

There are laments in other threads here about actors departing the Portland scene. Henry V is just a reminder that Leif Norby makes up for all of them. His quiet genius is unstoppable, from musicals to dramatic tour-de-forces. Street Scene, Jekyll and Hyde, La Mancha, Full Monty, Ragtime. Fully realized and completely different characters made unforgettable by the Norby touch. Take away the music and you have his tremendous raw talent in its purest form: an awe-inspiring, knock-out Henry V. Anyone who misses him as the King of England here is missing Shakespeare at its very best.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha! My, but that poster was certainly keenly familiar with Leif Norby's resume.

Dan said...

Very strong ensemble, great use of intimate arena staging, a couple of flat performances, some inherent comedy not played to its potential, but all understandably understated for a clean, unpretentious delivery of the text. Leif indeed was outstanding. His performance was the perfect marriage of modern sensibilities with the beauty of Shakespeare's language and the final scene just amazed me (and I'm hard to amaze). Everyone who loves Shakespeare AND anyone who doubts the relevance of his work in a modern context should see this show.

David Loftus said...

Somebody wrote: "Ha ha! My, but that poster was certainly keenly familiar with Leif Norby's resume."

Is it a crime to admire another actor's work? Is the implication that actors can only love themselves?

If you're going to try for humor, try to avoid sounding snarky. Better yet, put your name on your post, and the rest of us might have an idea where you're coming from.

David Hasselhoff said...

Ha ha! What's so great about leaf what's his name?

Anonymous said...

Yo Hassle-huff, it's Leif; go see the show to find out. And once again these comments are drifting towards the land of drivel. And please, post something smart and keep the sophomoric comments for My Space for crissakes. Aren't we supposed to have intelligent and at least an attempted intellectual dialogue rather than bringing it down to base crap?

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU YOUR HONOR!!!
:)

Anonymous said...

this forum can be an interesting adjunct to the earnest efforts we all make on the stage. i mean, dudes, we make no real money at it no matter where we work so at least allow the feedeback we all want to be at the same level of integrity. is that fair?

Anonymous said...

Actaully I make plenty of money...at least enough to live on. I have not held a "real" job since 2002 thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

So and So is "leaving" town and "Oh my gosh what will we do?" Give me a break---there are plenty of talented people in this city and more arriving all the time---plus these people who "Leave" will all be back for the right show and paycheck---it just means Portland is no longer their base.

The Hoff said...

Anon 11:28...

"And once again these comments are drifting towards the land of drivel."

Unlike your illustrious comment?


"Aren't we supposed to have intelligent and at least an attempted intellectual dialogue rather than bringing it down to base crap?"

We are. It was a sardonic attempt to the poster before me...you might pay closer attention next time before getting so darn tootin mad. Oh, and buy my new album and I will put you on my "top ten."

By the way, I hope I am not misguided in suggesting that no one is forcing you to read this website. Simma down.

I enjoy Leif's work, but after post after post about how dreamy he is...let's just say I would rather read about what exactly he/others do correctly. This is when I agree with you 'non 11:28

We all seem to know how to tear people down when they do well, but can we articulate the techniques that make talented actors soar?

Anonymous said...

*yawn*

Anonymous said...

LOL. I love it when people say "yawn." It is so...how do you say...not witty. Take a nap, sleepy head.

Anonymous said...

I love David Hasselhoff. And Northwest Classical Theatre Company rocks!

Anonymous said...

Does any one have an opinion on how the stage was set up? Looking across from other patrons? Seeing their reactions? Thrilling or distracting?

Anonymous said...

Oh God.

(Weeping silently.)

Just...just...make it stop. Please, Lord. Make it all stop.

(Lays head on desk. Repeatedly hits forehead against desk blotter.)

Please, please, please.

(Blindly reaches for electric clippers and begins to absently shave head, including eyebrows.)

Deb Lund said...

ANON...(one of them) posted:
So and So is "leaving" town and "Oh my gosh what will we do?" Give me a break---there are plenty of talented people in this city and more arriving all the time---plus these people who "Leave" will all be back for the right show and paycheck---it just means Portland is no longer their base.

You are corret!

I'll be back. (for the right show)

Deb Lund said...

So and So is "leaving" town and "Oh my gosh what will we do?" Give me a break---there are plenty of talented people in this city and more arriving all the time---plus these people who "Leave" will all be back for the right show and paycheck---it just means Portland is no longer their base.

I'll be back. ( right show/ right pay)

deb said...

how the heck did that happen?????

Sorry.

David Loftus said...

Someone asked: "Does any one have an opinion on how the stage was set up? Looking across from other patrons? Seeing their reactions? Thrilling or distracting?"

You know, after all the greetings and good cheer before the show, I didn't really notice them once it had started.

Anonymous said...

You ask for specifics about why Leif Norby is good. Well...here are a few reasons I admire Leif's work:

Selfless; Connected; Researched Character Work; Controlled Physicality; Emotionally Accessible; Amazing Comedic Timing; Grounded; Vulnerable...to name a few.

Leif works harder than most of the actors I have had the opportunity to watch go through the process of rehearsal, young or veteran. Leif deserves all of the love and admiration he gets, because he gives it out so willingly to those around him. He is one of the best actors in Portland of his type and you would never hear him say that of himself. He is humble of his work, realizing that he can always push himself to be a better actor.

Leif's work on stage draws your eye and elicits your attention, but he doesn't make this happen by himself. He understands the importance of everyone around him- cast, crew, audience- and respects everyone that surrounds him.

So personally, for me to hear someone poo-pooing Leif Norby getting credit on whatever level it comes:
a. Leif Norby is a theatrical god.
b. I heart Leif Norby
c. I melted in my seat watching
Leif in the final scene.
etc.

...sounds more like jealousy than anything.
So, David Hasselhoff, when's the next show you are in for us to come and see your work?

-----------------------------

Beyond Leif's work, I do want to applaud the others of this cast and crew. Too often one issue is driven so hard into the blogspot ground, that nothing other than that one topic is discussed. Leif couldn't have succeeded on the level that I felt he did in this role had he not had a cast to connect with.

David Hasselhoff said...

Thanks! Now that wasn't so hard, was it? If you read the earlier post, you would recognize that I wasn't poo-pooing by any means, just wanted to hear something a little more substantial than collective a** kissing.

I agree with your thoughtful assessment regarding Leif and applaud you for recoginizing the other actors who perform, too.

As for my work, I released a new CD which you should be able to purchase here:

http://www.amazon.com/Sings-America-David-Hasselhoff/dp/B00016PO68/sr=8-2/qid=1172186659/ref=pd_bbs_2/103-1170101-4765448?ie=UTF8&s=music

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dave,

I would check out your link, but I already own every season of Baywatch and your entire singing collection.

Thank you, though, for giving others the opportunity to check out your work.

I loved you in Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical. We got to see both your amazing acting ability as well as your stunning vocal chops.

Anonymous said...

Grant Turner also deserves mention here for his vision and energy.

Don't miss it!

Anonymous said...

After a weak tho energetic "Alladin" Blue Monkey's's "Romeo & Juliet" is nicely crafted. Some good acting (especially young Matt as Romeo and the Capulet parents). Cameron as Juliet is cute but somehow vacuous. "Alladin" being a musical suffered from painfully inaudible or weak singing while "R and J" (thankfully)requires none. This appears to be a big problem for Blue Monkey - Mr. M. needs to pay less attention to how his actors look and more to how they sing. I am just waiting to see how "High School Musical" develops - more pretty folks with mediocre voices or some teens who look real and different and can actually sing? Otherwise I don't think I would want to keep buying (rather expensive) tickets to this struggling theater. Let's get beyond the looks Mr. Monteverde. Are the East High kids going to be bad copies of the Disney actors?

Anonymous said...

Um... this thread is for Henry V, Not Blue Monkey's
Blue Plate Special.

Anonymous said...

to the actor who proudly posted the news of their successful "career" in the PDX theatrical market i have this... if you make more than $600 a week 40 weeks a year then there is maybe one or two of you in PDX. and ...$600 is less than the lowliest 5 and under makes in Hollywood A DAY. get real. i'm talkin $$$$ not scraping by on the equivalent of what a novice sheet rocker makes. we, all of us, do this for love. soo... let's not spat like brats. let's discuss our work for the oh so rare and valuable insights we all crave.

Anonymous said...

actually a professional sheet rocker is anything but lowly....they make more than you do probably...


Oh and to the guy slammin Blue Monkey...Cameron was not vacuous in the least lady Capulet was fine...Lord Capulet was a joke---the best adult in that show was the friar.

Anonymous said...

Focus, people: it clearly says "Henry V" at the top of this thread.

Anonymous said...

jeez. i said novice, not lowly. the judemental attitude is clearly in your own heart. plus, my net- worth does not inform my self-worth, but that's probably cause i have some.

anyway...

Henry V rocks because it rises from the text. the production was very careful to NOT graft concept-centric ego flotsom onto a classic that has come down to us- as is - after over almost half a millenium.
yes, Mr. Norby's performance is a triumph - and not only for him. it also confirms for the company that invited, supported and directed him that they sail the right tack. that's an exciting prospect in a town where a demand for professional quality classic theatre goes under-supplied.

isle seat said...

Lord Capulet was not "a joke" he was fine with what was asked of him, he didn't have much to do and this has more to do with the editing than the actors skill.

This is of course from someone who make rather outrageous leaps of assumption with little or no evidence, so I suppose it's understandable. The previous reference was probably speaking of an apprentice sheet rocker who doesn't get paid that well.

focusgroup said...

You guys better come back to Henry V, or those previous posters are going to get really, really upset!

HURRY!

Anonymous said...

This blog totally cracks me up...it's better than 'The Family Guy'....ok that's probably too much---but it's still very funny.

Thought Leif was good....Theatrical God is kind of Hyperbolic but at least you're assured in your opinion....

Sadly, Lord Capulet and the Nurse were the weakest adults in that show (Blue Monkey's R&J)

Generally in my opinion Portland has yet to develop a truly top notch classical company with real vision and understanding of how to bring the Bard to 21st century audiences....but as this community grows and time passes that should change.

Anonymous said...

Woah - seriously? You think the Nurse was weaker than the Prince?

Really?

Anonymous said...

Yeah..seriously? Could you make a R&J thread, followspot, of somesort so we don't hog Henry V with R&J comments?

Anonymous said...

Oh actually yer right...I blotted out the prince...he was the weakest.

Anonymous said...

Could we have a blog that wasn't so nasty?

David said...

I find that reading lots of nasty blog comments has the effect of making me feel claustrophobic. The community is so small that our social events feel like coffee breaks--or lunch hour in the high school cafeteria--and we all want to get along well in audition rooms and rehearsals. Why should we indulge in nastiness that makes it harder to keep things fresh?

I admit, it took me a while to learn this lesson, myself. But, now that I have....

Anonymous said...

So it's nasty to say that a performance was weak? I'm not sure what you consider to be nasty...personal attacks on people for sure but I don't see that anywhere in this thread.

David said...

Fair enough. I think that on this particular thread, I'm reacting to my sense that the competition to decide which actor was "weakest" is flogging a dead horse, and with malicious relish. It's the over-all tone.

Anonymous said...

Wow, reading this blog, it seems the subject has to decided to shift far away from the topic: Henry V.

Anyway..on the topic of Henry V..This was the first NWCTC show I've seen, and I was very impressed. I thought all the performances were very strong and the show moved along quite well. The night I saw the show, they were having power troubles and had to do the majority of the show in house lights; however, it was a great show and I hardly noticed the difference. Standout performances to me would be Leif Norby, Grant Turner, and Allison Anderson, but it was a great cast in general.

Looking forward to seeing MacBeth.

Anonymous said...

this show is perfect.

Follow Spot said...

Reviewed by Followspot March 8, 2007; closes March 11, 2007

Wow. Impressive. Immediate, engaging, encompassing, involving. Accessible. Leif Norby crowns cadre of unpretentious players who induct with a glance, putting substance of Shakespeare within easy reach. Director Grant Turner’s elegant, well-rounded staging is simply imaginative, imaginatively simple. Human scale, even tone, clear thought, well-defined motive; well paced. Spoken, not spewed.

Anonymous said...

I heard about this production from people saying it was great, engaging, with a cool vision and I honestly really didn't get it. I love Shakespeare and I love when it's engaging cause lord knows it can be torture. No it wasn't torture but it sure wasn't moving. Don't know if all the accolades came from loved ones or friends or supporting fans which I think is great but it really wasn't all that it was hyped to be. I loved the intimate theatre, but there was no intimacy or connecting from actor to actor. I saw lots of inconsistent characatures and acting with a capital A. Leif seems like a nice guy but I didn't believe him when he said he was a man of iron as he was trying soften up and open his heart at the end. He was soft the whole way through, I didn't see the arc or the the true journey of a man of iron finally having to open up and win someone's love who's country was just conquered, it seemed way too easy. And the command of the language was so so for everyone. (Except for the older gentleman, when he spoke he spoke like he knew what he was actually saying) I didn't see or feel the language in anyone's body coming from the text. And I saw no thought process or moments of discovery or actors genuinely feeding off each other and together creating the moment. I commend them for doing it, highly appreciate the effort cause I know it ain't being done for the money but for the love of classical theatre and keeping theatre in Portland alive and hell it's fun putting on a play but I was disappointed with what I saw and the bar can be easily raised.

Anonymous said...

gotta respond to last post.

just because you were not impressed doesn't mean that those who were were friends/relaltives or otherwise subjective viewers. it is absurd to dismiss the universally postive acceptance of the production in this way.

your opinion is your's and, regardless that i think it is the product of a smallish soul, you're entitled to it. but, please don't call the rest of us fools for enjoying this excellent production.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the show so I may not be the best person to reply to this, but I do find it interesting the post on 3/09 1:03 am had trouble with the show because in their words they saw a lot of "acting with a capital A" and yet they didn't think much of Leif because he was too much like himself and not acting like a "man of iron". Acting as we all know is a very subjective art and what may impress one person will bore another. I myself simply do not get Cirque de Solei even though everyone tries to tell me how great it is. I think what matters most is that an acting company communicates the story to an audience and based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback this show has received I'm guessing they succeed. To that point, I think it's important to acknowledge exactly what this group has done. I say Kudos to the NWCT for their accomplishment. In a town where the larger theaters tend to get all of the attention, it's nice to see a small theater like this receive such universal praise.

Anonymous said...

Saw it Thursday March 8; competent, but no "Leif Norby theatrical god" mind-blowing show. Awkward physicality and lack of dignity in the second half took away the gravity of the situation, making it a strange little soap opera with a large number of French dead. Device of kneeling to express great emotion simply didn't work for me; seemed to ignore power relationships, and when everyone started falling down, it got a little goofy. Dude in the Portland Blazer was supremely annoying; his tall clean-shaven friend was good.

Larger problem with "text not directorial concept"; produces competent, meaningless shows. Everyone started reasonably, but all were wandering, even when acting was good, and by the end only the plot connected them. The only world was the one they shared onstage, which was a medium energy and couldn't really go anywhere.

Anonymous said...

"Larger problem with "text not directorial concept"; produces competent, meaningless shows."

...I'll take competent and meaningless over the too-heavily conceptionalized drek that Tygres Heart used to do or the Romeo and Juliet that Blue Monkey just did

Rio said...

To NWCTC about followspot.com

Please remember that this is an online community and it's really easy for someone to hide their identity and provide negative feedback/comments about your production. But when a person gives you a positive review from a person on the Internet you can easily count it as 2. When someone is protected by the "Internet Distance" of anonymity and still provide with a positive review/comments it's very likely a sincere, honest opinion.

So disregard those single negative comments that come from an anonymous person.

ALL OF YOU have done a magnificent job!

David said...

"In regards to post 3/09/2007 01:03:00 AM...
You're a retard!"

Actually, Anonymous 1:03:00 was dead on the money, though his or her language may have been uncompromising (it certainly wasn't offensive.) Henry V is a good show, well worth seeing, but all the weaknesses that 1:03:00 mentions are visible. There is no dishonor in that. Doing Shakespeare is harder than it looks.

.... I'm beginning to feel that maybe the nastiness of "anonymous" posts simply makes them not worth the trouble. Perhaps it's time for Followspot to require responders to sign up with blogspot.

Anonymous said...

Or...even better, perhaps we could mentally disregard those opinions we don't agree with.

We don't need to fight 'em, we're all welcome to disagree. I personally think it is retarded to say "you're a retard," but I would assume most everyone else would recognize that too...except, naturally, for the retard that said it...

...that said, (if you are still following), I personally don't need to know someone's identity to decipher whether their post is relevant or not.

...adds to the mystique, as "challenged" as it may be...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"So disregard those single negative comments that come from an anonymous person."

This is exactly the kind of head-in-sand mentality that leads to indulgent, poorly exicuted theatre.

Rather than dismiss the people that don't like you, listen to them just as you would the people heaping praise on you. You may not like what you are hearing, but it could be useful.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha...I would normally agree. However, look at the CONTEXT, my friend. You are more than welcome to take that to heart, but I think it will only handicap you.

Anonymous said...

Constructive criticism is given with deference and respect, which invites deference and respect in return. Destructive criticism belies a bitter heart. Since it is neither deferential nor respectful, it can only be received in the spirit in which it was given.

Throwing barbs at actors' specific interpretive choices on the last weekend of a six week run is the very definition of "destructive." It is delusional and narcissistic to claim that it is intended to be "helpful."

I saw this show, and found it to be honest, uplifting and deeply satisfying. I felt the title role was perfectly cast, and contrary to a previous post, my heart went to my throat when the king knelt to talk to God. I also greatly admired Anderson, Reiten, Cross (if that's the name of the guy who played Fluellen), Turner and both Waltons in this ensemble.

All actors are their own worst critics. I'm sure there are things each one would like to improve. But when actors come together and get as many things right as this cast did, it's time for a little applause. From Norby's solid leadership to the concept of having a real baby play Henry VI, this was work that touched many people, and that the whole cast should be very proud of.

1:30AM said...

This is 1:03 AM responding. I appreciate the responses to my post and am suprised at the backlash that has been written over it. I offer no apologies to what I said. It was the truth from my point of view and my point of view is just as valid as yours, I believe in it and it is mine. It does not make me a smallish soul or some evil person. A smallish soul would be one who stays within the box without a voice of their own to voice and one who wouldn't be affected by a theatre production or care to go to theatre. Or give a damn to get on line and say something from their own point of view.

The whole theatre community was really exited about how great this show was and, indeed, I did had high expectations. And they weren't fulfilled, so what's the noise in that? So what? Will it stop me from coming back? No. Will it make me think less of all the actors and people involved? No. Do I believe the actors were doing their best? Yes. Do I beleive the actors want to be the best actors they can be? Yes. Do I believe in actors and in theatre itself? Yes. Do I think it's my responsibility to caution my words because it's closing weekend? No. But actors and performers, as delicate as they can be, must also believe in their work and come from a place of truth and stand by it and not let some blogged point of view from some anonymous person on the internet whom they don't even know affect what they have worked their asses off for months. Who am I to state something and then change their whole course of a performance? A stranger...? Gimme a break. If they get all bunched up about it to the point it affects them then they really need to reconsider why they are doing what they are doing.

So what? I wasn't impressed with what I saw and disagreed with what a lot the theatre community saw. I'm not taking that away from anyone. That's my experience, I can stand behind everything I say, and delineate every thought I have about the production. I'm not just blabbing. I applaud NWCT for doing this show in the Shoe Box Theater and I applaud the actors for taking on Shakespear's text. I will always go back to see a NWCT show and continually support Portland theatre because I believe in it.

Anonymous said...

But can you deliniate which theater actually presented Henry V?

daniel shaw said...

amen to your last few thoughts 1:03

Anonymous said...

I thought that this show was very well acted. however, i found the story to be comparatively uninteresting.

Anonymous said...

I've always had a tough time with shakespeare. For some reason I had a tendency to discount shows when done minimalistically (is that a word?). But then I saw Henry V and all of my preconceived notions were broken down into ridiculous stereotypes. Not only did I understand the show but I loved it! Of course Leif was terrific as always. But Grant Turner, Allison, Joe Healy, Melissa Whitney, Richard, Dan Shaw and all the other cast members (sorry I don't know your names) have to be mentioned for their great performances. Some might disagree but as wonderful as Leif is I don't think the show would be what it was with out that great cast and Grant Turner directing. I was blown away. Back to the minimalist comment. After seeing this show I realized just how distracting sets, props, ect can be and how much they can take away from a show or add to it, just needs to be correctly. While I throughly enjoyed the show there is one particular actor that I felt lack basic skills as an actor, maybe it just wasn't their type of show. I look forward to seeing many more great shows from NWCTC. Keep up the good work and break legs!

Anonymous said...

anon 12:32 coming back:

Of course interpretive trouble comes down to specific audience members' purpose in watching the show. Rather than trying to pin down who has which relationship, talk about specifics. Way back in February, someone has already said they'd "rather read about what exactly he/others do correctly"; one person (two, counting followspot's "unpretentious") took the bait.

I think that people looking for good actors in Shakespeare liked this show; it did a good job of showcasing everyone and you're close enough to see every detail of technique. The show didn't create a sustained coherent world, though, which put other people off. When the soldiers are running on and off English/French, you're either admiring the actor's technique at switching back and forth, or you're trying to maintain suspension of disbelief and remember who's who.

I think this is why I pined for stronger directing. Anachronisms like the Blazer jersey or the messenger bag are simple signs that help us interpret the historic action. My trouble is they're so simple they call attention to themselves and break me out of the play; oh, it's The Messenger That Shakespeare Wrote. You've still got a directing overlay, it's just that the overlay is "Shakespeare is complicated and the audience needs help to understand it". Very true; I don't need the play to tell me that, though. When you add on top that the play is continually shaking up who plays what, it's possible to get lost within the play forest and not care that the acting trees making it up are very strong.

This is why I want strong directing to create a coherent world. Putting everyone in suits and calling it "1930s America" doesn't make a coherent world, and neither does saying "we're going to stick to the text". That American Shakespeare interpretation doesn't go beyond that level is a statement about American directing, not the general uselessness of concept. Everyone worked well inside the show, but not everyone worked well with the show.

Ben Waterhouse said...

Did anonymous see the terrible As You Like It in Ashland, or is the 1930s America jab just a pet peeve?

Anonymous said...

Just because there seems to be some confusion here, the cast of Henry the Fifth was: Allison Anderson, Racheal Erickson, Kelsey Glasser, Joe Healy, Kenichi Hillis, Leif Norby, Richard Reitan, Daniel Shaw, Sara Simon, Grant Turner, Anne Turner, Bibi Walton, Tom Walton, and Melissa Whitney. And they all did an outstanding job in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

in response to anon 12:32
You wrote: "you're either admiring the actor's technique at switching back and forth, or you're trying to maintain suspension of disbelief and remember who's who"

I wonder if the director wanted the audience to always remember that they are watching actors and not want to suspended disbelief. Maybe that is one reason the actors were in the lobby prior to the show and that it was started so abrubtly. Just a thought.

Follow Spot said...

I couldn't agree more with this last anonymous post -- about always knowing these were "players" here to play for us, acting out upon a stage, bringing to life a tale -- in the sense of a balladeer -- or in this case a whole troupe -- coming to town and sharing news and history of the land ...

Anonymous said...

Regarding that last post - I think the show was set up this way through the speech at the beginning. Something about it all being a play, can't simulate the battlefield... etc. etc.. And then there were some monologues that sort of said the same thing during the show.

Anonymous said...

I had assumed that the awareness that the actors were actors was a given, considering the prologue and following chorus speeches. I saw it as a deliberate presentation, rather than an attempt to create the illusion that the audience really was in France during those historic times. I mean, NWCTC is a company that prides itself on working the text, rather than concept. Here, the concept is pretty much literally dictated by the text itself. And I applaud Turner and Co. for doing it that way.

Anonymous said...

The storytelling makes intellectual sense for me now, especially thinking about the different people playing the chorus. It didn't work in the moment. I think that there were too sharp breaks between the realism of the narratorial parts and the more detached and theatrical treatment of the chorus, and that the realism in general was too pronounced. I didn't see story-telling players changing from one mask to another, I saw actors playing different types of people, and I tried to ignore that out of courtesy, which meant I tried to ignore a central part of the production. That's why I didn't like the messenger bag; the woman wasn't playing with it, she was just wearing it. Similarly Leif's acting; he was being a real person, not Playing a King.

In response to the earlier question, I did see As You Like It, but I was thinking more generally about the costume-based "adaptations" I've seen and heard described.

Anonymous said...

Something that hit home for me for the first time in NWCTC's interpretation of Henry V is that this King WAS a real person, and not an untouchable separatist. The humanity that Leif brought to the role was what finally made me "get" why the King was so popular, and such a magnetic leader. And that made me love one of Shakespeare's "histories" for the first time. (I've always loved the tragedies, and some of the comedies. Never before a history.)

Anonymous said...

in response to annonymous 10:16:00:

i completely agree. what i loved so much about this show was that the actors were playing actors presenting the story (such as the chorus speeches, sticking on fake nose onstage to become a character, walking off the stage out of character after that green onion scene, or being handed a real live baby from a stagehand in plain sight) but once they were the characters, they were very real and very human. as the person sitting next to me pointed out during intermission it was very moving

Venticello I said...

How do you 'Play a King'? Put a crown on your head, act tough, puff out the chest and bellow out commands? It's one's interpretation of the character, or his role in the play that makes the character interesting and hence the performance. If he was to 'Play a King' (i.e. a stereotype) it would be quite boring. The fascinating thing about the man, Henry V, was that this was a man who was once a playboy, a bar-hopping swinger, a dude, etc. and at the end of Henry IV, Pt. 2 he becomes King and asserts himself in ways no one anticipated. He gets the gravity of his situation and his destiny. He "growed" up. That's what I saw in the man Henry V, one who is human, has weaknesses but recognizes his position and what lay (or is it lie?) on his shoulders.

Anonymous said...

Venticello, you defined my ambiguous phrase into a known bad stereotype, and then attacked that stereotype.

What I meant by "Play a King" is that I wanted a more dignified presentation, which for me meant a more evidently self-controlled one, because that fit better into my vision of how people respond to what I perceive as the immense pressures I imagine kingship must have.

But as has been said, they tried to do it one way, and I didn't like that way.

Anonymous said...

I think the dignity of the King was obvious when he interacted with others, while his vocalizations of his private thoughts clearly showed his humanity. It seems to me that evident self-control, in drama and in life, is the opposite of magnetism and charisma. For example: Prince Charles, who is dignigied and self-controlled, is a bore. Princess Diana, who often showed her humanity, was magnetic and charismatic. People would have followed her anywhere. Although Henry V did not have Diana's vulnerability, (can't picture her bucking the troops up for battle!), but he did have her charisma. Again, I think the correlation is the show of humanity. Leif pulled that off admirably.

I also thought the messenger used her bag to carry the tennis balls. Not sure where she would have put them otherwise.

David Loftus said...

But do such "immense pressures" obtain when the king is alone? -- which was, in effect, the case in a number of scenes in this play.

How much realism do you demand of your Shakespeare, seeing as how so many characters open their hearts to the audience in a way they never would have in real life, at the time, to anyone.

Anonymous said...

"That's why I didn't like the messenger bag; the woman wasn't playing with it, she was just wearing it."

I don't think I've ever seen a messenger "play" with their bag. It's a bag, not a piano. The fact that she didn't fiddle with it added to the realism that she was a messenger. Honestly, this is the silliest criticism I've read of any show anywhere.

Anonymous said...

"What I meant by "Play a King" is that I wanted a more dignified presentation"

Why? Is there something inherently dignified or even superhuman about being a king? Interesting is a quote from Henry V: "I think the king is but a man, as I am: the violet smells to him as it doth to me: the element shows to him as it doth to me; all his senses have but human conditions: his ceremonies
laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man; and though his affections are higher mounted than ours, yet, when they stoop, they stoop with the like wing."

Anonymous said...

David, I think that's the thing I was trying to hit, is that these characters have these immensely open monologues that I didn't believe, because I couldn't see the actors making the separation between a character giving a soliloquy "alone", versus a character making a speech to a room with other characters. Realistically, it's a huge event to everyone in the court that the battle is won, but also that the king is literally knocked to his knees by the report. Leif's speech should reflect what the king is experiencing tempered by a king's awareness that he is speaking to his court, as a king. I didn't see that the event was amazing, so I didn't believe the king's speech about how it will live in history. The presentation of the tennis balls was a place where the company handled a similar event precisely right.

The reason I wanted stylization to make distinct boundaries is because I think it's the best way to make an event visible without demanding the cliches of Big Emotion. Tennis balls worked because everyone reacted to their leader being insulted in a relatively consistent manner, but how do you show everyone conveying the immensity of an occasion? If everyone's realistically depicting their character being very impressed, that doesn't mean anything; everyone goes in a separate direction, and the need to stay together removes the force the event could have. Strings need resonators to make an instrument; acting needs context to make a play.

Anonymous said...

Anne Turner is a theatrical GODDESS! I heart Anne Turner as she really is what MAKES the show.

daniel shaw said...

i have no earthly notion of what that last post was saying. as a member of the cast may i please throw an observation into this theological hairsplit?

i believe that WS was vibrantly human and that one of his main contributions to drama was the human-ization of all his characters. when he fleshed out kings and crooks, popes and plebes with richly nuanced, and deeply human text he moved toward naturalism and away from the less dimensional commedia characters that were more prevelent prior to his plays.

therefore, all of what i hear from the previous post makes little sense and is in fact contrary to the heart of WS's work - in my view. i say give the speech all of yourself within the context of the action. let it breath, sweat, shed blood and WS is contented.

Anonymous said...

All I was saying earlier, Mr. Shaw, was that that baby is destined for stardom. I mean come on, yeah yeah Leif was incredible, but Anne Turner? Genius.

danirl shaw said...

you are absolutely correct re: anne t. she is a bright shining star. all of the NWCTC co. is wrapt in her thrall.

please excuse me for the error but my comment was directed to the post prior to yours dear anon.