Wednesday 30th October – Saturday 2nd November 2002 (5 performances) Joseph Rowntree Theatre
Director’s Notes from John White
So why Richard III, you may ask? On the other hand, you may be an avid supporter of Richard III and already be aware of the link between this historical figure and our beautiful city. Maybe we should explain.
From the point of view of the Shakespeare canon, it was one of his earliest – if not first – plays and therefore comes within our remit to do all the plays in approximate chronological order. Our version of the chronology puts Henry VI part two as the first play followed by parts three and one!
Shakespeare’s play, Richard III is an ambitious undertaking with its cast of 26 but for The York Shakespeare Project it is an excellent starting point, linking this canonical writer to our own local history.
From a York point of view, Richard III, last of the medieval English kings, had a close connection with the city and was known as “our full tender and especial good lord”. Indeed on hearing of his death at Bosworth Field in 1485, the City of York Council minutes recorded: “King Richard, late mercifully reigning upon us, was through great treason of the duke of Norfolk and many others that turned against him, with many other lords and nobles of this north parts, was piteously slain and murdered, to the great heaviness of this city.” That was unlikely to please Henry VII.
Richard was born in 1452, the youngest son of Richard, Duke of York and his wife, the former Cecily Neville. He reigned for a relatively short period between 1483 and 1485, and his name is inextricably linked with the mysterious disappearance of his nephews, the ‘Princes in the Tower’. A more in-depth historical account can be found by visiting the Richard III Society website.
It has always been a bone of contention with the supporters of Richard III and many historians that Shakespeare wrongfully portrayed the king as a villain, captivating and amusing, but a villain nonetheless. There is historical evidence that Richard was in fact an efficient administrator and a just king. Certainly the people of York thought so.
So what prompted Shakespeare to turn Richard into an English ‘Machiavelli’, deformed and treacherous? The key may lie in what has come to be known as ‘The Tudor Myth’, the officially sanctioned record of the Tudor dynasty. This royal house was founded by Henry, Earl of Richmond who came to the English throne as King Henry VII following his defeat of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. It is only natural that the new royal house, whose claim to the throne was felt to be questionable, would set out to bring into disrepute the old.
The play was first performed in 1592 or 1593 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry VII’s granddaughter. Drawing from Thomas More’s History of King Richard the Third (c. 1513), Shakespeare borrowed much detail of the personality portrayed therein: Richard’s habit of gnawing his lip and his political cunning, for instance, creating one of the most popular Shakespearean villains ever.
So if Richard was such a good king, why is the York Shakespeare Project starting its ambitious timetable with a character assassination of one of the city’s greatest supporters? Well, it is one of his first plays and we would have to do it in the first five year cycle. And anyway we are performing Shakespeare’s dramatic version of Richard, not an historical accuracy. But why make it the first? Well, we couldn’t resist it!
|Richard III||Alan Booty|
|Lady Anne||Marija Maher|
|Queen Elizabeth||Judith Ireland|
|Stanley, Earl of Derby||Tim Holman|
|Queen Margaret||Barbara Miller|
|1st Murderer/ Messenger||Jamie Searle|
|2nd Murderer/Messenger||Frank Brogan|
|King Edward IV||Tom Goldberg|
|Duchess of York||Sheila Shouksmith|
|Archbishop of York/Bishop of Ely||Harry Telfer|
|Edward, Prince of Wales||Alex Deadman|
|Duke of York||David Orman|
|Mayor of London||James Webster|
|Cardinal Bouchier||Hugh Curristan|
|Ladies-in-Waiting||Fay Barrie, Kay Hyde, Kim Jenson, Isobel Steer,|
|Jean Wall, Mary-Anne Dearlove, Eleanor Barbour|
|Piccolo/flute/treble recorder||Tamsin Beetham|
|Piccolo/flute/treble recorder||Sarah Greaves|
|Flute/tenor recorder||Maxine Gee|
|Set Design||Michael Wall|
|Costume Design||Eleonor Barbour|
|Stage Manager||Paul Jarvis|
|Lighting||Terry Johnson, Lee Coverdale, Chris Maloney|
|Costume Mistress||Angie Miller|
|Co-Producer/On the Book||Ali Borthwick|
|Production Assistant||Sue Whittaker|
|Musical Director||Paul Toy|
|Original Composition||Jessica King|
|Set Builders||Kim Jenson, Adrian Webster, Mark Rhodes,|
|Malcolm Law, Frank Brogan, Michael Stewart,|
|Rene Thomas, David Stoddart, Lee Maloney,|
|Michael Wall, Sharon Finlayson|
|Prop Makers||Amanda Crawford, Malcolm Law,|
|Wardrobe and Costume||David King, Danielle Broadbent, Katherine Hirst|
|Make-up||Mary-Anne Dearlove, Isobel Steer|
|Graphic Arts||Sue Whittaker|
|Publicity and Marketing||Effie Arestides|
|Front of House||Linda Maloney, Kat Dale|
|Graphic Design||Neil Milne|
|Education & Community Outreach||Jennifer Aitken|
|Drama Workshop Leaders||Amanda Strevett-Smith, Frank Brogan,|
|Effie Arestides, Lee Maloney|