Press - Henry V

A remarkably well executed production energetic, well-choreographed production featuring an outstanding cast.

...excellent production of Henry V celebrates the Bard’s sumptuous, patriotic pageantry

Review: Henry V at The Rude Mechanicals

by Amanda N. Gunther

Suppose within the girdles of the Greenbelt Arts Center’s walls are now confined two mighty forces— The Rude Mechanicals: a community theatre troupe that delivers judiciously trimmed and readily accessible Shakespearean plays— and Henry V: Shakespeare’s middle Henry history play. Directed by Rebecca Speas, this muse of fire finds its place among the Bard’s canon in true Rude Mechanicals style and delivers swiftly the plot, the point, and the perfectly pared-down rendition of what is otherwise a lengthy history lesson in the trajectory arc of Prince Hal to King Harry. All in a late-summer night’s work upon imagined wings do these scenes fly before the eyes resulting in a little over two hours’ stage traffic.

Lisa Hill-Corley as Chorus in The Rude Mechanicals production of Henry V

Director Rebecca Speas makes her full-length directorial debut with this production and does so with great aplomb. Applying the laws of simplicity to both the play’s setting and overall time frame, Speas manages to keep the piece feeling timeless and yet in the era where it belongs. Inspiring this simplicity to both Costume Designer Sarah Richardson and Lighting Designer Irene Sitoski, Speas ensures that character development and the overall humanity of the show’s plot is augmented and presented as the production’s central focus. Richardson, as the show’s sartorial selector, showcases a fine array of dress blacks with only red sashes and jewels to represent England and blue ones (complete with matching silk berets) to represent France. Similar minimalist approaches illuminate Sitoski’s light work, though there is a bit of a heavy hand when it comes to the red-floods featured nearly for the duration of the second act, particularly once the battle has begun.

Speas’ approach to the play is unique in the sense that not only is it timeless and yet simultaneously appropriated to its natural era, but there is also something visually striking about her ordering of the scenes. While it is only the opening and closing that are presented in this unusually intriguing fashion— for fear of spoiling the surprises little else can be said on the matter— it appears to be all that is needed to catch a glimpse inside of her working vision for the show’s overall aesthetic. In addition to the curious realignment, Speas has a sharp eye for picturesque blocking and demonstrates a working knowledge of the space rather soundly. Though there are some moments where the pacing stutters and a line or two finds itself jumped over, slipped upon, or dropped, these are but minor human errors that will no doubt tighten as the production speeds along, and otherwise do not impact the overall understanding of the performance.

The downfall to Henry V is that like most of the history plays it lacks the excitement of the dramas or the laughing punches of the comedies. Speas finds a way to negate this downfall in her more than judicious trimming of scenes and characters. Though initially seemingly superfluous, the first encounter the audience receives with Katherine, princess of France (Leanne G. Stump), is rather an ingenious showcase of comic relief. The aforementioned includes a giddy frolicking Stump playing opposite a somewhat cheeky but equally as lighthearted Alice (Liana Olear) while the pair titter about trying to learn Katherine some English words by teaching her parts of the body. Stump’s facial expressions matched alongside her giddy accent make for quite the bit of comic amusement, and these sentiments, along with Olear’s cheeky responses are echoed again near the play’s conclusion.

(L to R) Paul Davis, Allison McAlister, Rebecca Korn, and Charlie Green in Henry V at The Rude Mechanicals
(L to R) Joshua Engel, Paul Davis, Allison McAlister, Rebecca Korn, and Charlie Green in Henry V at The Rude Mechanicals

Both Olear and Stump, like so many of the actors featured in the production, double up their roles with Stump appearing early on as the Earl of Westmoreland and Olear appearing as Lord Scroop, one third of the dirty bird trio of those guilty of treason. Boneza Hanchock and Sean Eustis round out this trio as the Earl of Cambridge and Sir Thomas Grey, respectively, and aligned together they make for some surly and rather unscrupulous fellows. Eustis is better noted for his Dogberry-like portrayal of Captain Fluellen, playing most often against Captain Gower (another one of Olear’s characters, though this one is prone to none-too-subtle nips from a flask) and making for a bit of comic relief all his own. Hanchock should be noted for her portrayal of Michael Williams, with a firm attitude that carries the character well when encountered.

Though limited in scenic arrival, Montjoy (Jaki Demarest) makes quite the impression from the word go. We know Demarest by her habit, which is to sweep into a scene but for a few brief lines and somehow command the entire stage with impeccable presence. Gripping the audience and giving them cause to hang upon her every word despite the brevity of her speech, Demarest delivers a strikingly present Montjoy, and doubles later as the Queen of France, opposite Rudes’ veteran Joshua Engel. Affecting his voice to that of a weary and down-trodden elder for his portrayal of the King, Engel brings a sharp contrast between this character and the rather sprightly Dauphin (Sarah Pfanz.)

Spry of limb and brimming with spunk, Pfanz brings an indefatigable petulance to the character of the Dauphin, which is perfect given the adolescent nature underscored in the dialogue. Eager and bright-eyed with both animated facial expressions and engaging bodily responses, Pfanz is a delightful addition to the cast. The scene worth noting is the great lengths at which Pfanz goes “to horse” opposite of Hanchock, and makes a hilarious bit of humor arise in an otherwise somber moment of seriousness. This, like so many moments featured in the production find their footing in the actors ability to humanize what is happening with their characters.

So too can such praise be said of Pistol (Diana Dzikiewicz), Nym (Charlie Green), Bardolph (John Wallis), and Boy (Rebecca Korn.) Each bearing their own uniquely weighted quirky playful energies to the history, this quartet of performers makes for some wondrously engaging scenic play, particularly early on in the show and again much later during the heavy battle of Agincourt. Dzikiewicz in particular, who lives up to her character’s namesake in ferocity, is a splendid accompaniment to the performance as she plays the live violin, bowed psaltery, and harp at various points throughout the play; this adds a most delightful soundtrack to more poignant moments in addition to the audio effects created by Sound Designer Eric Honour.

Setting the ominous tone of the show early on, Paul Davis— who like so many plays multiple roles— lays siege to his lines as the Duke of Exeter and expounds them with a fierce tempest and clap of thunder. This is done without shouting but rather by projecting his voice in the acoustically unfortunate Greenbelt Arts Center’s black-box space. A man of many talents, it’s his portrayal of the frightened Frenchman that is worth noting for both the vividly expressive facial responses and the absurdly accurate accent.

A chorus is made of many; in this production it is made of Lisa Hill-Corley. With a succinct conviviality and overall congenial sense of how to engage an audience in the Bard’s language, Hill-Corley is the appropriate vessel to ferry theatergoers into the world of Henry V. With aptly assessed levels of gravity and levity each narrative monologue is delivered in kind to prime the audience with emotional cues. Hill-Corley also takes to the minor role of Hostess, but is most noted for her scenic splendor wearing the cape of the chorus.

Allison McAlister as Henry V in Henry V at The Rude Mechanicals
Allison McAlister as Henry V in Henry V at The Rude Mechanicals

With a reverent charge that surges behind each nobly delivered speech, Allison McAlister takes on the titular role of the play with panache. Infusing King Henry with determination and an astonishing amount of humility, McAlister invests her energies and efforts well into crafting the complete arc of the character. Brimming with confidence at the best of times, McAlister is careful not to let that surefire sense of righteousness stray too far over the line into arrogant territory. Harrowing to behold is the moment when McAlister exposes the rich inner turmoil of the king’s ultimate decisions in the monologue featured late in the battle of Agincourt. This moment is delivered with such solemnity and severity that it jostles the heartstrings quite intensely.

A remarkably well executed production, The Rude Mechanicals have a fine summation of Henry V on their hands. A brief run of just two weekends’ time keeps their company and one should acquaint themselves with such a production lest you miss out on a truly inspiring performance.

Running Time: Approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes with one intermission

Henry V runs through September 10, 2016 with The Rude Mechanicals at Greenbelt Arts Center— 123 Centerway in historic Greenbelt, MD. For tickets call the box office at (301) 441-8770 or purchase them online.

Review: ‘Henry V’ at The Rude Mechanicals

by Vanessa Berben

With Henry V, actor Rebecca Speas marks her directorial debut with an energetic, well-choreographed production featuring an outstanding cast.

After bringing their critically acclaimed production of Henry IV Parts I & II to The Highwood Theatre this summer, The Rude Mechanicals (RM) continue to deliver excellent interpretations of Shakespeare’s works by bringing its follow-up, Henry V to Greenbelt Arts Center.

The cast of 'Henry V': Left to Right: Joshua Engel, Paul Davis, Allison McAlister, Rebecca Korn, and Charlie Green. Photo by Prismatic.

The cast of ‘Henry V’: Left to Right: Joshua Engel, Paul Davis, Allison McAlister, Rebecca Korn, and Charlie Green. Photo by Prismatic Photograhy.

Picking up where Henry IV left off, Prince Hal is now King Henry following the death of his father. In an attempt to unite his people around a common cause, he sets out to conquer France and hopes to inspire his subjects along the way. Can Prince Hal live up to his father’s name and become King Henry V, or will his actions only further rip England apart?

Speas, a recent DCMTATake a Bowhonoree for her performance in the 2016 Capital Fringe Fest’s Best Overall show Over Her Dead Body, together with Stage Manager Trevor Jones has crafted a moving version of Shakespeare’s classic work that successfully portrays the seeming futility of war and the toll it takes on those who carry it out.

The sound design by Eric Honour’s Sound Design the lighting design by Irene Sitoski and operated by Samuel Kopel, work really well together and make a potentially chaotic play easy to follow. The costumes by Sarah Richardson were spot-on — well-crafted so that they could be from any era and with so many of the actors doubling-up on parts the quick changes make those transitions seamless.

In keeping with their tradition of gender-neutral casting, Allison McAlister tackles the role of King Henry with passion and nobility. It’s clear from the moment she rips onto the stage that her character is ready to shed the innocent roguishness of his youth and embrace his new role as ruler.

Allison McAlister (Henry V). Photo by Prismatic Photography.

Allison McAlister (Henry V). Photo by Prismatic Photography.

She lights up the stage and that energy is echoed by the rest of this amazing cast. Paul Davis, also a DCMTA ‘Take a Bow honoree, shines as Henry’s uncle Exeter. He portrays several other characters but his scenes as Exeter, especially when addressing the troops in Act II, are incredible to watch.

Charlie Green is excellent, and he crackles as Gloucester and Nym. Sarah Pfanz makes a hilarious Dauphin, jumping from braggart to coward with a toss of her head that keeps the audience rolling. Rebecca Korn (Bedford/Boy) continues her character’s arc from Henry IV and provides some of the most heartfelt moments of the show.

Leanne Stump (Katharine/Westmoreland) and Liana Olear (Alice/Scroop/Gower) have one of the funniest moments of the play when Olear attempts to give Stump an English lesson. Sean Eustis, Boneza Hanchock, John Wallis, and Diana Dzikiewicz do an incredible job with how many roles each of them portrays, giving each character their own unique personalities and jumping between all of them so well that it’s never once confusing to follow.

Other standout performances include Joshua Engel (Canterbury/King of France) and RM’s Artistic Director Jaki Demarest (Montjoy/Queen Isabel), who both bring depth and gravitas to their respective roles. Lisa Hill-Corley, who has some of the most difficult lines of the play as the Chorus, is integral to keeping the pace and flow of the story on track. Her eyes light up as she describes the action, helping to propel the energy of the show forward.

“Energy” is a great one-word description for this production of Henry V. The Rude Mechanicals have created a fantastic retelling of one of Shakespeare’s beloved history plays that features a stellar, hard-working cast.

Running Time: Approximately two hours and 15 minutes, with one intermission.

Once More into the Breach!

by Jim Link, Greenbelt News Review

Once more into the breach dear theater buffs. Hie thee thither to the Greenbelt Arts Center where The Rude Mechanicals’ excellent production of Henry V celebrates the Bard’s sumptuous, patriotic pageantry.

The Rudes are unwontedly reverential toward Shakespeare this time and present no sendups, putdowns or satirical meddling with any of the beautiful, familiar set pieces – just straight, solid, richly satisfying professional acting.

Unless you actually consider a little gender bending subversive. Can any of us jaded sophisticates really be shocked that some women play a few male roles? The gender switching is entirely unobtrusive, not at all distracting. By the end of the play, we are so immersed in, so enchanted by the fire, force and delicacy of Shakespeare’s poetry that we have forgotten that our brave King Henry is very convincingly played by a woman – Allison McAlister. Even when (s)he woos, kisses and wins the French princess Kate (the lovely Leeanne G. Stump), nothing jars.

Jacki Demarest is impressive as the dignified, very masculine French herald Mountjoy. For once she does not play a seductive man eater. Remember her turn as the blind Lady Macbeth?

The diminutive Sarah Pfanz is perfect as the French Dauphin, the nerdy, narcissistic twit who rashly presents tennis balls to King Henry, rousing his English amour propre and territorial greed.

Also impressive are Joshua Engel as the wary, apprehensive French king who rightly fears the invading Henry; Lisa Hill-Corley as the Chorus who thankfully explains the action of the play in a series of prologues and epilogues; Sean Eustis as the fierce Welshman Fluellen.

Directing 16 actors in 28 roles is a daunting task, but Rebecca Speas brings clarity to a sprawling, very complicated plot. Huge kudos to her.

Moviegoers of a certain age will remember Laurence Olivier’s iconic morale-boosting performance in 1944 during WWII. Younger movie lovers will remember Kenneth Branagh’s electrifying performance in 1989.

The Rudes revive the Bard’s magic, written 400 years ago, 200 years after the Battle of Agincourt. Be re-enchanted by lines like “This day is called the feast of Crispian....From this day to the ending of the world we in it shall be remembered, we happy few, we band of brothers...”

Henry convinces Kate that it’s perfectly okay to kiss before being engaged. “Nice customs curtsy to great kings.” They kiss. “There’s witchcraft in your lips.”

Henry V plays on Friday and Saturday, September 9 and 10 at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, September 11 at 2 p.m.

Once More Into the Breach: An Interview with Allison McAlister and Rebecca Speas on Henry V

by Amanda N. Gunther, TheatreBloom

Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more! But what if it’s your first time into the breach, like it is for Director Rebecca Speas, who’s taking Henry V out for her first full-length directorial debut? Or you’re newcomer Allison McAlister fresh to the Maryland theatre scene by way of North Carolina and delving into the titular role of the show? In a TheatreBloom exclusive interview, we sit down with Rebecca and Allison to get an idea of what muses stoke their fire when it comes to the Bard and his great history lesson.

Thank you both for sitting with us, if you could give us a brief introduction as to who you are, what you’re doing with the show, and what people might recognize of your work in the area, we’ll get going!

Director for Henry V with The Rude Mechanicals
Director for Henry V with The Rude Mechanicals

Rebecca Speas: Hi, I’m Rebecca Speas and I am the director of Henry V. This is my first full-length directing experience. A had a little experience directing in college for my thesis, but I’m mostly an actor. I just finished with Over Her Dead Body with Pinky Swear Productions for Capital Fringe Festival.

Allison McAlister: I’m Allison McAlister and for this production of Henry V, I’m Henry V, which is super exciting. I’m incredibly honored that people trusted me to do this. I’m fairly new to the Maryland area. I was fairly involved with community theatre, some Shakespeare groups, and some other professional theatre groups back in North Carolina. I lived in Raleigh for about ten years, most recently in High Point for about six months. And now I’m here.

What was the appeal to want to jump off the deep-end and direct Henry V as your full-length directorial debut?

Allison: She’s a masochist.

Rebecca: Clearly! Accurate. Honestly? The instigating factor was that The Rudes had never done it, which was kind of shocking. They’d done the Henry VI’s and they did the Henry IV’s just before this production, but never Henry V. I’ve always been fascinated by Henry V because Henry IV parts I & II are my favorite Shakespeare plays. This is the continuation of that story. For a long time, I was very not on team Henry. But as I’ve gotten older and I’ve read more and have figured out what is going on, I’ve grown a lot more fascinated with the character and his arc. Partly out of necessity but also partly out of my fascination and love of this story and these characters.

How did you end up with Henry V, Allison?

Allison McAlister, playing Henry V in The Rude Mechanicals production of Henry VAmanda N. Gunther | TheatreBloom
Allison McAlister, playing Henry V in The Rude Mechanicals production of Henry V

Allison: I was on Facebook. I was looking for a way to be involved in a theatre community of some kind. I saw a Facebook post that said this company was doing auditions for Henry V and that they do gender-blind casting, which may mean whatever that means. I have always loved the character of Henry V. I have always loved this “Hal to Harry” arc. I’ve always loved that development and I have always thought, “Man, I wish I could portray one of the Henry’s one day.” So I figured I would come out and try it. And now here I sit. In spite of myself, I actually have no idea what I did. But they are quite an undertaking, even just to sit through.

I understand, though, that when The Rudes do Shakespeare, even with the histories, there tends to be quite a bit less to sit through?

Rebecca: That’s right. There’s no six-hour duration where everyone’s in Elizabethan garb and it goes on forever.

Allison: Delivered with judicious cuts.

Rebecca: Yes. Now, nothing plot-critical, but definitely cuts.

Speaking of which, what has been your overall vision approaching this beast of a V, as it were?

Rebecca: As an actor and as a director I always start with the text. Henry V opens with the chorus coming out and the “Oh for a muse of fire”, that whole speech that boils down to ‘we can never do this story justice in the theatre so you’re going to have to trust us and you’re going to have to help us.’ You’re going to have to imagine that all of these actors are playing ten different parts, and you’re going to have to imagine that the Battle of Agincourt is happening on stage when obviously it isn’t. By nature, it’s the most performative of Shakespeare’s plays, I would argue even more than The Tempest. I went from there. I threw any pretense of realism or binding it down to a particular time period out the window because it just wasn’t interesting to me for this play. I’ve went to “what are the words that they’re saying?” How can I make those words and the relationships between all these characters the focus of the story? That was my starting point and it has sort of gone from there with simplicity being the rule at the end of the day.

What would you say have been the challenges in working with this production?

Rebecca: Mine is an easy answer. It’s all the administrative stuff has been super hard. There are so many people in the history plays. Getting them all in one room at the same time, figuring out where they are at any given point, and just fitting all those puzzle pieces together, that has been my biggest challenge.

Allison: Specifically, being a woman playing a role that is not played by a woman, and it’s not specifically a gender-flipped production or anything like that, but honestly? It hasn’t really been a thing, which seems strange, I’m sure, but it really hasn’t been a thing. There’s been no point— or maybe there is and Rebecca just hasn’t told me— but there’s been no point where I’ve been thinking, “Oh dear, I need to be less of a woman.”

Rebecca: No, there hasn’t.

Allison: That’s not really part of it. That’s not part of Henry’s arc in this. It’s very developing how he comes to be accepted as a leader. And as a person. But you don’t see much that’s actually masculine specific. This is really interesting compared to Henry IV, when you see him as Hal, whose living it up in the brothels and all that. He’s very, very masculine whereas here it’s less “he’s a man” as opposed to not being feminine, but more “he’s a king” and growing into that.

Rebecca: That was very eloquently put, I could not have put my finger on that, but you’re absolutely right.

Allison: Actually that was some gibberish.

Rebecca: I’m buying it.

You both keep mentioning this fascinating story arc of Hal to Henry. What is it about that story arc that you are bringing of yourself to and he is bringing to you?

Rebecca: Oh, that’s a tough one for me, do you want to answer first?

Allison: I think there’s a temptation to make it just about growing up in a chronological sense? But I think everybody, no matter how old you are, you’ve had this sense of really coming into where you are at some moment in your life. I think that’s what it is, it’s a lot of feeling that sense of coming into your own. He comes into this as Hal. His father has just died and his father took the throne less than ceremoniously. He’s coming to terms with the fact that “oh my gosh, my father was not necessarily a good man.” And “aw, man, now I have a kingdom, oh geez.”


We’ve all had these experiences where we’ve been asked to be something that we don’t see ourselves as being. There is this point at which you have to decide are you going to bow out or are you going to just fake it until you make it? And at some point you’re not faking it anymore. That’s the piece that I see. The good thing that William Shakespeare gave Hal was this ability to be charismatic and to lead people, even if it wasn’t in a great direction. It’s so much better having that charismatic construction to work with, or to have some sort of understanding as to how he’s pulling people along for the ride. It’s been really fun to explore. There’s a particular moment that I’ve decided for myself— because he kind of falls into being king a couple of times but then gets scared— so there is this moment that I, as Allison in my portrayal of Henry, have decided is where we say “Oh, we are actually going to be king now.” I hope that comes out somewhere.

Rebecca: That’s awesome. In my relationship with this play, as I previously said, I was team Falstaff for a very long time during Henry IV. I had played Falstaff as a teenager and had sort of related to the “devil my care” attitude and living the good life because you only live once sort of thing. So when Hal banishes Falstaff at the end of Henry IV Part II, I felt very betrayed as Falstaff. This person, even if he isn’t a good person, had supported you in so many ways and you’re throwing him out. As I got older and was growing up—

Allison: You were growing into the Rebecca you were meant to be.

Rebecca: And the Rebecca that I wanted to be! Exactly. But I had a very similar experience watching and reading Henry V. It’s about a man growing up, but he has to become his own person on this international scale. It’s about growing up and not necessarily liking the person that you’re becoming. You have that moment where you have to choose. Am I going to be the king who storms into Harfleur raping and pillaging it and burning it down? Or do I use mercy to them all? What kind of person am I going to be? Because I’m going this way and I don’t know if I like what’s at the end of that road. I think everyone has that kind of crossroads moment, and that is what rang true to me this time around. Who knows what I’ll find in Henry V ten years from now.

Is there a moment that defines the show for you?

Rebecca: Ooh. That’s a really good question. I have to think about that for a minute. Right now I think it’s the moment with Henry and the soldiers. Henry has disguised himself and is walking around the camp before the big battle of Agincourt where the English are all almost certainly all going to die. He’s posing as a common man and three soldiers speak truly about what they think about being in the middle of this French field about to die and they do not like it.

Allison: Undercover boss.

Rebecca: Yeah, exactly! This is undercover boss episode of Henry V. Those interactions between Henry and Michael Williams are the crux of Henry’s decision later. He has that one line— and you know it and I don’t— “every subject’s duty…”

Allison: Every subject’s duty is the king’s, but every subject’s soul is his own.

Rebecca: I think he realizes he can let that responsibility go. He has their duties but he doesn’t have their souls and I think that is a big releasing of a lot of his angst. Not all of it, because I think a lot of it is still there, but a great deal of it.

Allison: I think my moment for defining the show, the moment for Henry that I’ve paid the most attention to, which sounds terrible to say, but the moment of climax of the arc for me is right after that.

Rebecca: I knew that was exactly what you were going to say! And it was actually what I was going to say but I knew you were going to say it and I didn’t want to steal your thunder.

Allison: I think it’s a good sign when two people define the show at the same place, right? At least for the actor and the guy who’s name is in the title?

Rebecca: Yeah. Because Pistol probably has a whole different defining moment for this show.

Rebecca: For Henry’s decisions, and honestly I guess the shape of the show, there’s this incredible moment right after what Rebecca has just described. After the king has gone around and done the undercover boss thing, he has this incredible moment of aloneness. And this was just an incredible direction that Rebecca gave me. We’re rehearsing monologues and she says, “I’m just going to walk out of the room. And you’re going to be completely alone. And that’s where Henry is when he does this.” For the whole show it’s about Henry saying “What’s he going to do” but people are always with him saying “What are you going to do?” And then everyone has left. There is a decision point there. There is this confrontation, for the folks who are familiar with Henry IV, of all that came before. And there is this acknowledgement of all the weight that all of this carries. As far as somber moments go? That’s a large defining one and it really solidifies the direction of the second act of the show.

Other than the judicious cuts to the script, what is different, unique, or special about your production? What might people expect from this Henry V?

Rebecca: The beginning is different but I don’t want to tell you how because that will be a spoiler. Structurally I’ve made a few tweaks. Hmm. I hesitate to say that it’s super new or revolutionary because it’s not. There’s not a whole lot of bells and whistles beyond what our actors can do with their voices and their bodies. I really enjoy that and I think it suits this play in particular because the audience is so complicate in the telling of the story. The chorus comes out at every act and says “here, take my hand, and let’s go.” They’re going to take you along this story and we’re all going to have a good time. I want it to feel like you’re being told a really good story and you get lots in it for a couple of hours. That might not necessarily be a new approach, but its enjoyable.

HenryV Interview Main

Allison: I love the fact that the audience is a part of this. Where else do you get to go sit and be part of the French army or part of the English army? You get to be an English noble if you choose to be. It’s wonderful. I have not spent a lot of time in the venue, yet, but I am very excited to be working on this thrust stage.

Rebecca: We’re back at GAC (Greenbelt Arts Center) so we’ve got the thrust back!

Allison: I’ve heard the stories and songs of performing at GAC.

Rebecca: Every space has its quirks; every rose has its thorns.

Allison: I love the fact that the audience really is right there, or those who choose to be. Those who choose to sit further back that’s okay too, but those who choose to sit right there are going to get spoken at and engaged with, I’m very excited about that.

What do you think people are going to take away from this production of Henry V?

Allison: Hopefully it won’t be “Hmm, snooze, Henry V.”

Rebecca: Oh yes, fingers crossed! What I would love for people to take away from it is that once all the spectacle and the rip-roaring yarn has happened, I would like people to take a closer look at how we define our heroes. Everyone says history is written by the winners, which is accurate, but there are a couple of things that we do in this show that poke a little at the winners. Henry is a flawed person and a lot of times he is not presented that way. What Henry V does so well is that because it’s being told to you by a chorus, it shows you that “yes, this is a story, but how we’re telling it might not necessarily be all that actually happened.” This is just the “everything’s coming up roses and Henry” edition. We put everyone up on a pedestal whether they deserve to be there or not. And I want people to take a closer look at that.

Allison: There is an incredible self-awareness of the text, which I love. I think what I’m taking away from this exploration of it is that people are people. People can be kings and kings are people. And everything in-between, and there isn’t even an in-between. It’s just people are people. I could say that again but that’s what’s coming away from this for me and I hope that the audience gets that experience too.

What has working on this project taught you about yourself as an actor, as a director, as a human being?

Allison: Hmm. It’s really taking me back to those moments when I didn’t realize I was qualified for something. In concrete terms that is one of the biggest things that it has brought me back to. Honestly, moving up here was different and the fact that these two things are occurring roughly around the same time period in my life is really interesting. Growing into a new neighborhood, a new space, a new career path at the same time of growing into Henry is really curiously informative in both directions. In a concrete way that’s what’s going on there. In an abstract way I am just loving seeing the different facets of people. This is going back to the people are people thing. With this show, we’re choosing to let all the characters be people, as opposed to Exeter being just some guy who says “everybody move!” We’re not making this person this singular demonstration of humanity, everybody gets to be all of it.

Rebecca: That’s actually really great to hear. Because this is my first time directing, both in a long time and with it being my first full-length time— and I did not have a lot of prep time as I was coming right out of Fringe so the timeline got smushed a little bit— I think it’s shown me that even if I’m not qualified, I have to be when I’m in the room. I have a responsibility to the people in the room to make work there. I can’t get caught up in all of my anxieties. A lot of times before rehearsals I’d be having these moments of, “Oh my God, I don’t know what I’m going to do today. Can I block an entire act in two hours? Can I do this monologue with this person I don’t know what I need to say to them.” But in the room, all of it shut off. I had the people in front of me, I had the work I needed to do. It just taught me to really knuckle down and people will show up for you. If you expect it of them people will show up, which has been an invaluable lesson and I applaud everyone in the show because I did not make it easy. You can trust the people in the room with you, that is a very valuable experience.

Allison: People are capable of such remarkable things.

Rebecca: So many actors in this cast from first read to now have just made incredible choices and incredible leaps that I didn’t even need to poke out of them. They just happened and I was like “That’s perfect! Do it all the time!” I’ve also really enjoyed that because I have a fairly collaborative process and I was really able to enjoy it this time around.

If you had to sum up the experience to this point in one word, what word would that be?

Rebecca: Breakneck!

Allison: One word…

Rebecca: Gaah! That’s actually my word.

Allison: Is that actually a word?

Rebecca: It’s a sound…

Allison: Hmm. Oh dear. I say so many in the show. I think any word I come up with is going to be insufficient and as soon as I leave I’m going to be like “No! That was it!” I apologize! This is a tough question. Thrilling. We’re going with that. Thrilling.

Why do you want people to come and see Henry V?

Rebecca: To see the amazing work that all of these actors and designers have done. It’s going to be very remarkable.

Allison: We were just discussing today that William Shakespeare wrote this fantastic thing that is still funny, poignant, and relevant 400 years later. Cant’ do much better than that.

Rebecca: There is so much heart in this show that I think a lot of times gets lost. I did my best to make sure that we didn’t lose it. I think there’s a lot of it in this show.

Allison: You will not be yelled at by Henry V and the chorus the entire time.

Rebecca: Yes, none of this “I AM SAYING WORDS TO YOU!” because “ACTING!” stuff.