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Henry V workshop & performance

with Headlong Theatre

On Monday 20th February the Year 10 GCSE Drama and Year 12 Theatre Studies students participated in a two hour workshop with Iskandar Sharazuddin who works with Headlong Theatre Company as a Communities Associate.

In the workshop the students learned about some of the processes the theatre company used to create their adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry V.

This was a practical, fast paced workshop where the students learned about the methodologies used by practitioner Michael Chekhov (nephew to playwright Anton Chekhov) to explore movement and interaction between performers. They also worked on section of the play text, exploring rhythm, character and plot.

Matthew Disney said that he loved the creativity of the workshop and “using new ideas to create innovative scenes stretched my imagination.”  All of the students “liked exploring different types of movement, such as moulding, and how we considered our movements in relation to others and shared the space with them.” (Xanthe Gutch).

Then on Wednesday 22nd February we went to see the production at Leeds Playhouse.

This was an engaging adaptation of the play which made us all think about what it means to be English and at moments had us on the edge of our seats.

Here are some quotes from the students about some of the key moments from the production:

"At the end of the first half the company created a maypole scene which changed dramatically into the hanging of the soldier. This was highly dramatic, creating 'tickle and slap' and really caught my attention. It was a shock to see something so happy suddenly change to something so dark." (Daisy Button)

"One shocking moment from the Henry V production was the death of Henry’s friend for agreeing to turn Henry over to the French for money. Henry quickly transitioned from playfully talking about the contents of a letter which revealed the truth to snapping at his friend which built up to strangling him to death. The victim was shaken and helpless while Henry was determined to cut off his airways until he was sure that he’d killed him. However, after taking in what he had just done, Henry broke down from the loss of his close friend under his own doing. This contradiction of friends to enemies and later regret highlighted Henry’s uneasy mental health and was a very tense, uncomfortable experience for the audience to watch." (Maiya Gowon)

"My memorable moment was at the end of the play when a character brought on a vacuum cleaner and all the stage lights came on and it was just this man hoovering and tidying and then he said the play was finished. I thought this was very good as it alienated the audience, making us think about the whole play and consider the message of the production". (Eva Caseley)

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