King Henry IV 1

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Discipline:
Arts & Music
Subject:
Theatre

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King Henry IV 1

1597

Approximate time Shakespeare wrote 1 King Henry IV

The play was very popular amongst theatre goers, in part due to the vivacious humor of Falstaff. One performance even nicknamed the show (a popular occurance, usually titled after the most notable character) "The First Part of Sir John Falstaff" in 1625 (Gaby).

During the Restoration Era, when theatre was permitted once again, 1 King Henry IV was a popular revival. These performances concentrated a lot on the portrayal of the characters, and many audience members came more to see these unique roles and how they are played, rather than to see battles and conflicts between forces.

To be directed by Phillida Lloyd, who also directed an all female Julius Caesar at London Donmar Warehouse. Her take on King Henry IV (as Julius Caesar was), will be set in a high security prison and to feature some returning actresses from JC. This production will be a part of a trilogy of Shakespeare plays set in jail. The last one TBD.

There are several film versions of this play, one in 1960 as part of a Shakespeare series, and another on the BBC in 1979. The most recently recorded version follows the trend of Medieval monarch-era drama TV shows. 1 King Henry IV was included in a four part PBS series of Shakespeare plays called The Hollow Crown, featuring Richard III, King Henry IV part 1 and 2, and King Henry V. This allows for more graphic battles and violence that one cannot get from seeing a theatrical production, and a larger audience of non-Shakespeare lovers due to big name actors like Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston.

Details on the first production are unknown, however, it may have been performed at court the Winter of 1597. This was also the same year that Shakespeare's theatre company's lease on their theatre expired (this was before The Globe was built).

18th Century

Restoration Era Focuses

21st Century

Film/TV Productions

20th Century

All female production to open October 4th, 2014

King Henry IV: Part One

How it Has EvolvedFrom Then - Now

Click to watch the actress to play King Henry IV, in her role as Julius Caesar.

Fun Fact:In 1606, many of the profanities in this play, such as "zounds" or "'sblood" had been censored by parliament, because it was offensive to some. Right around the time of Puritan reign as well.

It was also during this time that costumes were a huge part of a production, often a prized possession of any theatre company. All parts were played by men still, and so the men playing women needed to be dressed believably as a woman. Actors wore fashionable clothing of the time and from then on, the fashion of that time has been the most reproduced when staging a production of King Henry IV.

19th Century

One production performed at the Drury Lane Theatre in 1864, however, incorporated innovative set design which awed audiences. Praise from the Illustrated London News:"The Shrewsbury battlefield was divided by a long ridge, and the numerous combatants, arrayed in bright armor, were concealed under its shelter, until, rising from their ambush, they filled the stage with their glittering figures, all in vivid action and stirring conflict" (Gaby).(Published picture from the news journal above- click to enlarge)

By this point, many people were only interested in the character of Falstaff, and if that actor was not up to their standards, it was a let down for audience members. The production value of this show was also dwindling down, due to Shakespeare's other plays that allowed more complex scenery and staging.

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1 King Henry IV became popular within productions of history cycles of Shakespeare's plays. Similar to the cycle of Mystery Plays, this allowed the audience to see the full context of the prodigaments of each character. How King Henry IV came to power, how King Richard had been usurped, why Mortimer had not been crowned king, etc. It allowed a deeper understanding of the storyline for audience members. So it was not only about Falstaff or Hotspur or the Prince, but more so about the entire state of the nation, including all of these characters.

Noteworthy production at the Globe in 2012

The play has clearly come a long way from being censored for profanity, especially in this age where profanities flow naturally for a majority of Americans.. and violence is pretty much featured in every movie/TV show.

This concept of a cycle was popular in England during the Renaissance, and even to this day, productions of history cycles continue to be a popular occurrence. (As you will read about in the blurb to the right)


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