‘Henry V’ features swords, a noble man … and God
Story by Ashlee Larrison
Photos by Garrett Ohrenberg
GCU News Bureau
As Ethington Theatre kicks off the second half of its 2020-21 season, it was important to share a message to start the new year off right.
According to the students and faculty involved in Ethington’s production of William Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” debuting Wednesday night on the outdoor stage outside the Fine Arts Building at Grand Canyon University, this play has that message.
“It’s about dedicating things to God, and I think this is a year for that,” said Assistant Director Morgan McCall, who also plays the role of Exeter in the show.
The play, the final part in a tetralogy and believed to have been written in 1599, follows young Henry V as he comes into his role as the new King of England. He seeks to distance himself from his wild past and becomes one of the most beloved kings in England’s history.
Audiences will get to witness exciting sword fights, battles and storytelling as they watch Henry and his armies seek to unite the kingdoms of England and France.
In his second directing role of the season, Acting Instructor Michael Kary takes on the historical piece and allows some of the modern-day challenges the theatre has faced, such as putting on a show during a pandemic, to help add to the authenticity of the production itself.
“The handy thing is that the obstacles in our way were not that different then the obstacles that Shakespeare was facing,” he said. “We have a plague in our midst and we’re performing outside like he performed outside.”
Although the play itself is not performed as frequently as some of Shakespeare’s other known plays, largely because of cost, Kary believes its representation of leadership is just as important to remember now as it was back then.
“I think what people can take away is some hope for what a leader of a country can be like,” he said. “A leader that’s inspiring, a leader that wrestles with ethical issues, and the one thing that stuck out to me in this production is how often he turns to God throughout for his decision-making and gives God glory for whatever victories he has.”
For students, the play also offers the opportunity to celebrate the works of one of the most well-known playwrights in history.
“What attracted me to this show is that I know love Shakespeare, I love language and I love the important stories that he tells,” McCall said.
McCall said that having the opportunity to work alongside Kary was another reason she wanted to be part of the production.
She was not alone.
“I’ve never done Shakespeare before, so I was kind of nervous about doing it,” said Rylee Arnett, who plays the roles of Montjoy and Burgundy. “When I heard Michael was directing, I was like, ‘What better first director to have than Michael Kary?’
“Plus, there’s sword fighting and combat, and I just thought that was so cool.”
Brandon Brown, who plays Henry V, was excited to participate in all the fight choreography as well.
“It was really fun,” he said. “It took us a very long time to do, but I think it was worth it, the time we spent on it, because I think the end result is going to pay off really nicely.”
In addition to exciting fight choreography and a timeless story, audiences can appreciate the beautiful Shakespearian costume designs by the College of Fine Arts and Production’s Nola Yergen and the compositions by Ryan Ardelt.
If that’s not reason enough to check out the production, then Brown doesn’t know what it.
“If you’re going to see a Shakespeare show, this one is pretty captivating as far as the battles are concerned,” he said. “I think it’s just fun to come for an evening and hear a story that is based in real life and just come and hear the play and have a good time.”
IF YOU GO
What: “Henry V” by William Shakespeare
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, through Sunday, Feb. 7
Where: Outdoor stage next to Fine Arts Building
Information: 602-639-8880 or [email protected]
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].