Theater in the Rough Presents Henry IV: in motion

Henry IV: in motion – the cast/Photo: Yitz Woolf; Costumes: Bayla Lewis

Theater in the Rough presents Henry IV: in motion – it’s Shakespeare performed outdoors, live and full of action. Performances will take place at 17:30 in Bloomfield Gardens, Jerusalem, beginning August 11, 2021. The plays are in English and admission is free.

There’s no need for any prior knowledge of Shakespeare or history to enjoy the play, but in case you want to be in the know:

Worcester (Gillian Kay) with King Henry (Miriam Metzinger)/Photo: Yitz Woolf; Costumes: Bayla Lewis

Henry Bolingbroke, now King Henry IV (Miriam Metzinger), having usurped the throne of England from Richard II (now there’s a sad tale!) is experiencing the woes of great responsibility (and perhaps a bit of guilt). There’s unrest in the kingdom, and to make matters worse, his son Prince Hal (Natan Skop) is spending his time in taverns hanging out with the wrong crowd. Most troubling is Hal’s close friendship with Sir John Falstaff (Ira Skop), a self-acknowledged drunkard and thief, with a lively wit and zest for life. It’s all the more annoying for Dad, as there is another young Henry, Harry Percy (Avital Sykora) – aptly called Hotspur, whose family helped Bolingbroke to the throne, and is the epitome of every royal dad’s dream. There’re all sorts of rebellion in the works, it’s exciting to see the drama unfold, and there are lots of laughs along the way.

Sir John Falstaff (Ira Skop) and Hal (Natan Skop)/Photo: Yitz Woolf; Costumes: Bayla Lewis

Theater in the Rough has a family team as its production core: mother Beth Steinberg is the director, father Ira Skop runs the business aspect of the theatre, and Natan Skop produces as well as acts. Inspired by Shakespeare in the Park and other New York City theatrical experiences, they began Theater in the Rough in 2010. They work with the community, and usually hold a series of play readings in November – December as they decide which play to produce. Auditions are very democratic – everyone has to audition for roles, even if they have performed with the theatre for years.

This year has been different for us all, and certainly for the theatre, but along with the disappointments, there have also been some surprising benefits. In a conversation with Natan Skop, he said that they had been working on Henry IV in 2020, and by mid-August, they had been rehearsing and were almost ready to present it. But due to the uncertainty in terms of official regulations, and the tough year that everyone had experienced, they decided to defer it. “So,” Natan said, “I think that when we started this year, we had an unusual situation for us. We were working off some of the people who were in the same roles, some were in the same cast in different roles, and it also meant that we already had some of the costumes, we already had some of the music composed. And so, I think it feels like everything’s gone a little faster. We can rehearse things in more depth faster because people know their lines sooner. It also allowed us a lot of nuance because we’ve had a lot more time to explore certain themes, certain characters. For us it’s been a really fascinating way to get even deeper way to get into the play.”

Natan will be playing the role of Hal, the wayward young prince. When asked about his perspective on the character, Natan replied, “Prince Hal is a really interesting character because he’s very layered in a sense. On the face value it’s a character who has a pretty clear redemption arc: he starts off kind of rebelling against his father by hanging out with the low life in the taverns and ends up by accepting the mantle of the kingship, defeating his actual nobles rebelling in battle and eventually becoming the historic Henry V. But I think that, as Shakespeare often does, there are a lot more shades of gray in there. I think one of the main things that’s been really interesting for me to think about is what is the audience gonna think of me? There are a lot of times when Hal isn’t such a likeable person or he’s being very manipulative. What does it really mean to have this person who’s pretending to rebel but actually gives a speech in the first act that says I’m just putting on a show and I’m actually planning to reform all along. How much is that true? How much is the audience gonna believe that? How much do I even believe that? Me, the character…There’s a question how to play that.”

The Rebels/Photo: Yitz Woolf; Costumes: Bayla Lewis

Come to Bloomfield Gardens to find out how Natan and the other cast members interpret their characters! Expect to move around a bit. Every 15 – 30 minutes or so, the scene will move to a different location in the park. Don’t worry about finding your way, the actors will guide you along. If wandering in the park doesn’t work for you, there will be an accessible performance of select scenes at Beit Moses on August 13, 2021. Theater in the Rough will also conduct pre-performance workshops in the park on August 16 and 23 at 16:00, suitable for children and adults.

Performances will take place: August 11, 12, 15, 16, 18, 19, 22, 23, and 24, at 17:30 in Bloomfield Gardens, Jerusalem. Suggested donation: 40 NIS

Links: Theater in the Rough website

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