Go to Top

Henry IV Part 1: New version for play-reading and performance

Play Index & Help

In December 2017, we published our MFFEV5 edition of Henry IV Part 1. It is our ‘Play of the Month’ for December. With Falstaff as one of the key characters, it is one of the more interesting of Shakespeare’s plays, so we’ve written much more about the play than usual, and as part of an upgraded ‘Play of the Month’ feature, we’ll publish links to those articles on our Facebook page throughout December.


These links are also available on the index to the play (to the right of this post on laptops and tablets in landscape mode, and after this post on smart phones and most tablets in portrait mode).


Henry IV Part 1 is part of ‘The Henriad’, a set of four plays which tells how Henry IV came to be king (Richard II); his problem with rebels , both political, and familial, (Henry IV Part 1 and 2), and the triumph of his son as king (Henry Vth).  Beyond this rather dry, political story, it has two features of great interest:


It introduces one of Shakespeare’s greatest comic creations, Sir John Falstaff, (aka Falstaff) and tells the story of the competition between Henry IV and Falstaff, to be ‘father’ of Prince Hal.


From perhaps 1400 to  around 1600, (or roughly from Chaucer to Shakespeare) England went through a cultural shift from a medieval view of the world (Christian; the Divine Right of Kings; Feudal system of agriculture, trade guilds to support skilled tradesmen , etc) to an ‘Early Modern” view of the world (Science-based; Machiavellian politics; invention of the Joint-stock Company and limited liability; acceptance of financial banking, etc).  We still live in a later development of that culture, but are more aware of the problems that arise from it. Seeing this cultural shift through the eyes of people living in the time  in Shakespeare’s plays, can help us get a better understanding of our own culture. The Henriad explores in some detail the political shift from The Divine Right of Kings, to a Machiavellian view of politics, which leads naturally to the cynical attitudes of today’s politicians – and citizens.


FROM OUR SPONSORS……………………………………………………………………………………………..




Our edition of  Henry IV Part 1 provides you with lots of content to help you explore the play. You can:

Read our Introduction to the play
Play-read the whole play with a cast of 2 – 12 players, using Parts and Cues and Highlight Text.
Explore the original, Elizabethan, casting of the play for 22 players
Explore with a few friends, some of the key scenes of the play using “Let’s Play”:

A1S2: We are introduced to Prince Hal, Falstaff, (and Poins) – 3 players
A2S4: ‘A plague on all cowards’ (3 players)
A2S4: Hal and Falstaff ‘practise an answer’ (4 players)
Henry IV tells off his son, Prince Hal (2 players)
Relationships of King Henry, Prince Hal, and Hotspur
A5S4: The death of Hotspur (3 players)
A2S3: Hotspur teases his wife, Lady Percy (2 players)

Read the Edinburgh Shakespeare play-reading group play-reading of the play in December ’17..
Read reviews and watch 3 productions of the play at home:

Review (****): The Globe’s production of Henry IV Part 1
Review (****): Chimes at Midnight
Review (***): The Hollow Crown Henry IV Part 1 & 2


And finally, we provide a script of our version of Chimes at Midnight, the Orson Welles film covering Henry IV Part 1 & 2, and a bit of Henry V. You can download for version for free. It’s adapted for  the stage for 7 players. It’s called Gentlemen of the Shade.


The index to the right of this post  (or after it if you’re using a smart phone to read this post) allows you to access all this content. Do try the index out. The focus, as always, is on enjoying and exploring the play, and the index is the starting place for that exploration.


Let’s Play!!!


Richard Forsyth
‘The Director’


If you are using, or thinking of using, Players-Shakespeare.com’s edition of Shakespeare’s plays for production rehearsals or play-reading, why don’t you ask to become a member of our Support for Playreading & Productions Closed FB group?
If you want to know how our Shakespeare edition is developing,  ‘like’ our Facebook page, and you’ll get more detailed updates on Facebook on what’s happening.
Also, if you run a play-reading, don’t forget – we want your feedback so please post at Player-Shakespeare.com’s Facebook page


 GOOGLE SUGESTIONS::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


Play Index & Help

3 Responses to "Henry IV Part 1: New version for play-reading and performance"

  • Joseph R Falocco
    December 5, 2017 - 7:32 pm Reply

    In my essay, “Abridged Acting Editions of Shakespeare in the Twenty-First Century” (Texas Theatre Journal 9 (2013): 55-68) I advocated for the publication of abridged versions of the plays for performance. May I ask if your editions abridge the received text? If so, how much do you cut. If not, why do you choose to not cut? This is an ongoing area of research, and I would be grateful for any information you can provide. Thank you. Respectfully yours, Joe Falocco, PhD; Associate Professor; Dept. of English; Texas State University..

    • Richard Forsyth
      December 6, 2017 - 9:44 am Reply

      Dear Professor Falocco,

      Thanks for your interest in our MFFEV5 edition of Shakespeare’s plays. In answer to your question, I’d make the following comments:

      Our edition is aimed at ‘players’, and in particular people who play-read the plays in a group; and people who put on productions of the plays.

      Our main interest is therefore in what was played as productions, and so we base the texts we use on the First Folio which, in the main, we believe were based on the scripts used in production at the time. So, for example, our ‘Hamlet’ excludes any script in Q1 & Q2 which is not also in FF. We do edit the script to modernise punctuation; etc.

      We hope this meets our audience’s needs. People putting on a production should, and no doubt will, cut the play to suit their production needs. But that should be their choice, and not ours

      People who playread the play are probably more interested in the ‘complete play’, and I hope will find the First Folio version interesting.

      The decision to go with the FF was also influenced by the fact that the OUP had put an electronic version of the FF into the public domain under a Creative Commons licence. This considerably reduced the effort required to produce our edition, and means we can (and must) provide it for free.

      I hope this information helps your study. I’d be interested in seeing the results of your analysis. If you want to have a more detailed conversation, you can contact me on FB Messenger.

      Best wishes,

      Richard Forsyth

      • Joe Falocco
        December 6, 2017 - 1:18 pm Reply

        Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.