Lantern Theater Company presents William Shakespeare's Henry V under the direction of the Lantern's Artistic Director, Charles McMahon, as part of its record-breaking 19th season. Performances will run March 14 through April 14, exactly 600 years after Henry's ascension to the British throne in 1413, and will include the popular Scholars: In Conversation series as a companion to the performances. This year's series, The Spark of War: Politics, Leadership & the Psyche of a Nation, will use the powerful themes of Shakespeare's play as a catalyst to explore modern issues of leadership, politics, and how mythmaking shapes national identity.
With Henry V, "the city's top presenter of Shakespeare's work" (TheaterMania.com) brings to the stage an epic journey through royal courts and battlefields, conjuring a vast world through the suggestive power of the Bard's incomparable language. Following a bloody civil war, charismatic young Henry, England's new king, sets out to repair his fractured nation with a common purpose: war with France. But unprepared and outnumbered, Henry's small army of bumbling country rubes and petty thieves seem to be no match for the slick French war machine. While Henry sets out to secure his crown and reputation, he finds humility, true leadership, and the power to inspire a nation. From rousing speeches to the dark eve of Agincourt, Henry V is both adventurous and introspective, a tale of raw power punctuated by surprising moments of comedy.
"Shakespeare does a lot of meditation on authority," says director Charles McMahon, a Shakespeare aficionado who has directed all but one of the Lantern's Shakespeare productions over the past 16 years, including last season's Romeo & Juliet. "Henry is trying to find a way to be a just king and a true authority, even though he reached that position through a dubious agency. This theme of trying to achieve personal and national redemption manifests itself via Henry's relationship with the people - as well as his rights over them - which was a revolutionary thought for Shakespeare's time."
Ben Dibble will star as King Henry, a part that he has described as "by far the most challenging title role I have taken on since Bat Boy (at 1812 Productions in 2003). I have never carried this much dialogue in a play, and I am very excited to take the massive journey from new king to conquistador."
Henry V runs March 14 - April 14, 2013 (press opening: March 20, 7 p.m.). Tickets are $20 - $38 and are available online at lanterntheater.org or by calling the Lantern Box Office at 215-829-0395. $10 student rush tickets are available 10 minutes before curtain with valid ID; cash only. Additional discounts are available for seniors, groups of 10 or more, and current/former members of the U.S. military. Lantern Theater Company is located at St. Stephen's Theater, 10th & Ludlow Streets in Center City Philadelphia.