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.
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”:
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.
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