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A CurtainUp BerkshiresBerkshire Feature
Experiencing the War of the Roses in Shakespeare & Company's Rose Playhouse In the Making
By Elyse Sommer

The Porches Inn

Rose Print Theater
The Rose Footprint Theater (Photo: Kevin Sprague)
As our London critic, Lizzie Loveridge wrote in her recent review of the Royal Shakespeare's Rose Rage, which embodied the three parts of the Bard's three parts of Henry VI, staging all of them can be somewhat daunting. But as anyone who has followed the Lenox based Shakespeare & Company's twenty-five-year history knows there's very little that daunts artistic director Tina Packer or her actor-manager disciples. The company season includes not only a modernized Macbeth but all three Henry Vi plays.

The first two parts of the chronicles are not Shakespeare's best and most regularly produced plays. In fact, many think that they are not to be solely his work. Yet, seeing the plays in Lenox is more than a history lesson of the Wars of the Roses and its aftermath, but a chance to experience the first phase of the company's ambitious plan to create an authentic replica of the Rose Playhouse on London's Thames river where Shakespeare's plays were written and performed over 400 years ago.

The Boy King
Susan Hyon as the Boy King (Photo: Kevin Sprague )
With two theaters -- the Founders Theater and Springlawn Mansion -- already in their second season, the outdoor Greek theater r is still a dream in the making. But rather than wait for the Rose Theater to be complete, we now have a temporary amphitheater aptly called the Rose Footprint being put to instant use. True to the spirit of the company's do-everything style of operating, the Rose Footprint was built by company members. That means actors will actually perform on a stage they helped to erect.

Modest as the Rose Footprint is -- a platform, a back wall for entrances and exits, seating on bleacher style benches and low folding chairs -- there's something irresistible about being amongst the first to see Shakespeare performed here. The fact that Henry VI Parts One and Two were probably the work of the future king of English drama still in the making, makes them an apt choice to initiate the still evolving new outdoor theater The same applies to the cast which consists of Performance Institute actors still testing their wings.

If this newly christened space is even more bare bones (artistic director Tina Packer's favorite style) than usual and the performances and staging only occasionally rising above student work, you'll want to see at least one of these plays Each is , each directed by Jenna Ware and condensed by her to 90 minutes without intermission.

Georgia Adamson &  Sean Miller
Georgia Adamson & Sean Miller as Platanganet and Warwick
(Photo: Kevin Sprague )
I'm not going to break this publication's practice of not reviewing student productions, I do appreciate the opportunity to perhaps spot a future star in the making. If I had to place my bet on one member of the Part One performance seen last Sunday afternoon, I'd say, I'd expect to see more of Georgia Adamson (Richard Plantagenet, later Duke of York), a young Judy Dench look and even sound alike.

For plot details, check out the Henry Chronicles covered during CurtainUp' s first season or Lizzie Loveridge's more recent review of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Rose Rage, both linked below.

HenryVI Part One and Part Two will be performed in repertory through August 24th, to be followed by Henry V starring Allyn Burrows at the Founders Theater (to be reviewed!). For performance details check the box office at 413-637-33 or the company's website.

Related Links
Henry VI parts one and two -- uncut
The Henry VI chronicles condensed as Rose Rage
Shakespeare's Little Instruction Book

deb and harry's wonderful things -  crafts .  yarns

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