Anne and I went to see the opening of Henry V last night. This year’s Shakespeare Festival, the 14th in a row, features a first, a double-header. In fact, it really is a triple header. Let me break it down for you. In addition to last night’s opener, the festival has been playing at home in Shakespeare Glen for a week now. Last week’s opener was the prequel play, Henry IV. This production is really a conflation of Henry IV Parts One and Two, hence the triple header. These two productions will alternate nights now through most of the remaining festival, until near the end of it, when they really will play double headers. Imagine that six straight hours of Shakespeare. So come all thee temperate nymphs and help us celebrate this festival. Come and also wish felicitations to the Bard on his 450th birthday!
Earlier in the day Anne and I had been bicycling in the park. It was crowded with both wedding buses and water fowl. The landmarks of Forest Park always seem to be must have photo-ops for any wedding party. Usually at the Grand Basin the buses are stacked-up three deep. With as many other people who were also in the park, it was surprising to see as many egrets and herons as we did see. They were our photo-ops. We didn’t have enough time to visit the African Arts Festival, but it is a three-day weekend. We had delayed our launch, waiting for Dave to arise. He had made noises about accompanying us to the theater, but he had already slipped back into his nocturnal lifestyle and had made other plans. C’est la vie.
We beat feet back home in order to get ready for the show. Although the play doesn’t start until eight, you have to get there early, to get a good seat. Otherwise, you become one of those denizens who show up only moments before show time. Inevitably they mournfully are drawn towards the stage, searching for seats that have long since been staked-out. I guess they want to glimpse the view they might have had, before the also inevitably are dispersed to the hinterlands. We showed up at six and were lucky to get as good as seats as we did. Besides, if you don’t show up early, you’ll miss the Green Show.
This show always includes young actors in training. They put on a comically touched twenty-minute rendition of the night’s play, which with the storyboard familiarizes one with the characters and the plot. Additionally, there is a selection of traveling performers that circulate through the crowd. This night they had one of my favorites, Juggling Jeff, “Now be sure to check out page 36 and the top of page 38 of your programs.” He and his partner, Oh My Gosh Josh, stopped and posed for me mid-act. They were going to knock the plastic fork out of the mouth of their willing victim. There was some doubt though whether they were going to use their plastic batons or their “razor sharp knives of death”. If the audience’s attention wanders and they start to pay more attention to their wine and cheese, these performers will notice and consequently step up their game. So with a bit of brie keep them on their toes.
Henry V features the Battle of Agincourt, where the home team, the English, who were costumed in Cardinal red, was playing the French, wearing baby bear blue, in an away game. King Harry gives his famous Saint Crispin’s Day speech and we were well prepared with a bottle of Crispin’s hard cider. I guess because of all the footwork involved in this battle scene, before the main event the actors came out for a little batting practice. It was a rare opportunity to capture the main performers actually performing. Alas, they were not yet in costume. Contrary to what the sign says photography is allowed during the Green Show, just not during the main show. That is what the PA announcer said. It’s too dark then anyway to take pictures or ride your bike.