«American Players Theatre PO Box 819 ♦ Spring Green, WI ♦ 53588 Cover Photo: Cast and Set of King Henry V, 2009. Photo by ...»
2009 Study Guide
American Players Theatre
PO Box 819 ♦ Spring Green, WI ♦ 53588
Cover Photo: Cast and Set of King Henry V, 2009. Photo by Zane Williams.
All photos from APT productions included in this guide were taken by Zane Williams and
If you have any questions or comments regarding the excercises or the information within,
please contact David Daniel, APT Education Director, 608-588-7402 x 112 or at
For more information about APT’s educational programs, please visit our website at www.playinthewoods.org.
APT WOULD LIKE TO THANK OUR MAJOR EDUCATION SPONSORSThe Alexander Charitable Foundation Leslie & Patrick Arendt This project was also supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin
American Players Theatre’s production is part of Shakespeare in American Communities:
Shakespeare for a New Generation, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest.
2009 Study Guide for Henry V Source: Cummings Study Guides. Used with permission.
Character List Henry V Rambures, a French Lord Chorus Lord Scroop Duke of Bedford, brother to the King Williams, an English soldier Bishop of Ely Lewis, the Dauphin Duke of Burgundy Bardolph Duke of Bourbon Charles VI, King of France Messenger Sir Thomas Erpingham, an officer in King Henry’s army Duke of Gloucester, brother to the King Sir Thomas Grey Pistol Court, an English soldier The constable of France A Herald Nym Alice, attendant to Katherine The French Ambassador Duke of Exeter, uncle to the King Montjoy Macmorris, an English officer A French Herald Le Fer Isabel, Queen of France Archbishop of Canterbury Mistress Quickly Governor of Harfleur Duke of Orleans Earl of Cambridge Bates, an English Soldier Gower, an officer in King Henry’s army Katharine, daughter to Charles and Isabel Synopsis Prince Hal has rejected his former companions and has now become Henry V. In order to delay the passing of an anticlerical bill, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely persuade Henry to invade France. In answer to Henry’s territorial claims, the Dauphin of France sends his ambassadors with a gift of tennis balls – a scornful jibe at Henry’s idle youth. The insult spurs Henry to invade France immediately.
The French meanwhile prepare to counter the invasion. King Charles offers England a compromise which is rejected. Henry’s forces besiege and take Harfleur. When the English army reaches Picardy, the captains Fluellen and Gower encounter one of Hal’s quarrelsome old cronies, Pistol, who reports that his friend Bardolph is to be executed for looting. Henry upholds the sentence.
The French herald comes to offer Henry ransom before the imminent battle. The offer is rejected.
On the eve of the battle of Agincourt the French nobles are confident, while the English are uneasy. Henry tours his camp incognito. He meets Pistol; he observes Fluellen. He is challenged by Williams and Bates, who assert that the monarch must bear the responsibility for the souls of all his slaughtered men. The king and Williams quarrel and exchange gloves as a sign of a challenge to be taken up after the battle. Alone, King Henry contemplates the heavy responsibility of kingship.
The next morning he urges his soldiers to battle and rejects the French herald’s offer of ransom. The attack begins. When Henry discovers that his baggage wagons have been plundered and the boys guarding them killed, he orders the massacre of all French prisoners. Miraculously, the vastly outnumbered forces of the English defeat the French. A peace conference is held and a settlement is made on condition that Henry can win Princess Katharine’s hand. This he does.
Context of the Play When Henry V debuted in London in 1599, Shakespeare assumed that his audience was aware of the key historical events that took place before the play’s action. After King Henry IV died, the crown passed on March 21, 1413, to his son Henry, the Prince of Wales, a 25-year-old who proved his mettle in battle during a war against rebels from Wales and Scotland. Although civil discord continued to fester in Britain, the new king shifted his attention to France. Because he believed the French may have usurped lands and titles from his ancestors, Henry began to consider invading France and seizing the throne. Defeating the French would not only win back lost lands, but it would also win back the hearts and minds of the rebellious forces at home, uniting them under Henry’s flag. But young King Henry’s conscience demanded that he seek counsel to affirm or deny the justness of his claims against France. (Shakespeare: a Guide to the Complete Works by Michael Cummings) Themes Strong leadership is a powerful weapon. Henry’s qualities as a leader make him not only a fit king but a redoubtable warrior.
A noble cause with noble warriors can win the day against overwhelming odds.
Though outnumbered, Henry V defeats the French because his forces believe the cause is noble and just.
Foreign war quells domestic strife. Since ancient times, rulers have gone to war to divert the attention of the people from domestic problems. Henry V is well aware that war with France will unite his subjects and make them forget the domestic issues of the day.
A just cause can transform disunity into unity. Henry’s army of Welsh, English and Irish soldiers fight as one army against the French usurpers of English lands.
Guide to references in Henry V The Salique Law The “Salique land” referred to by the archbishop was in Germany and was occupied by Franks, Germanic people who later moved westward and established France. Under the Salique law (also called Salic law), a daughter could not inherit the property and entitlements of her father. This proscription applied to all women, including the daughter of a king. Thus, despite her royal status, a king’s daughter could not pass on lands and entitlements of the king to her children; she could not give them what she did not legally possess.
The Globe Theatre
In the prologue of the play, Shakespeare refers directly to the Globe Theatre. He asks, “Can this cockpit (theatre) hold the vasty fields of France?” In other words, can the small stage of the Globe adequately present a play set on a vast battlefield? He then asks, “Or may we cram within this wooden O (Globe) the very casques that did affright the air at Agincourt?” The wooden O of course refers to the circular Globe Theatre. Shakespeare was preparing his playgoers to use their imaginations to pretend that a great battle is to take place on the stage of the Globe.
The Battle of Agincourt When: October 25, 1415 Where: Field between two forests near the village of Agincourt, France. The town is now known as Agincourt.
Combatants: About 6,000 Englishmen under the command of King Henry V and 20,000 to 30,000 Frenchmen under the command of Charles d’Albret, constable of France.
Weather: Rain, heavy at times, which muddied the battlefield.
Reason for the Battle: Disputed claims to French lands and the French crown.
The battle was part of the Hundred Years’ War, a series of engagements fought between 1337 and 1453.
Outcome: English victory. However, it did not end the war.
Flipping the V Throughout Great Britain, a “peace sign” made with the palm inwards – a “two – fingered salute” or “flipping the v” – is an offensive gesture comparable to raising the middle finger.
Along with his twin brother Saint Crispinian, Saint Crispin was supposedly born to a noble Roman family in the 3rd century. Facing persecution for their Christian faith, the brothers were forced to flee to the hinterlands of Gaul, where they worked as shoemakers by day and itinerant preachers by night. Annoyed by their missionary zeal, the Roman governor of the province had them put to death, and they were later declared saints by the Catholic Church. They were the patron saints of shoemakers, and their liturgical feast was celebrated on October 25, the day on which the Battle of Agincourt was fought in 1415.
Interviews with the Artistic Team for Henry V James Bohnen, Director
1. What is your job as director?
My job as director is first to have an organizing idea about the play that can be clearly conveyed to designers and actors to get the journey started. After that I need to be able to listen with a clear mind and open heart to hear the music of the play rise through all the talented people who bring the story to life. The biggest job for all of us is to figure out what the story of the play is and convey it with as much passion and clarity as we can.
2. Why this play, now?
This play always seems to hold its currency. At present, it speaks to us on at least
three critical topics:
– what characteristics should we look for in any leader, and how does that leader handle his or her power?
– when a country goes to war, must its cause be just?
– what are the personal and psychic costs to a country in times of strife?
On a personal level I am continuously fascinated by power and powerlessness, and there are many moments in the play that speak to that.
3. What draws you to Shakespeare?
Shakespeare draws us in, as the other great writers do, with his fascination with the ravages of time, the wheel of fortune that spins through each of our lives, and the ever changing situations of history (the mutability of all things). He refuses to judge his characters and instead offers them to us in all their conflicting complexity.
4. What do you hope the audience takes away from the production?
We have so little control over what any audience takes back down the hill. I hope they have been lured into the world of the play and found ways that it speaks to them. Our job is to begin a conversation in the heads and hearts of the audience that will carry on through the car ride home and deep into the evening.
Matt Schwader, on playing the role of Henry What I do believe is true and essential about the play itself is that it is not just a patriotic play. It is about a young man that was not necessarily raised his whole life to be King. With his father's death, Henry V is left with not only a fractious kingdom, but some heavy unanswered questions... namely "Am I the rightful heir to the throne?" Henry seems to have inherited much of his father's political skills, though much of his father's guilt seems to have been passed along as well. Also, what he learned from his time in the pubs with Falstaff and his crew about communicating is hugely advantageous to him. Henry V, unlike his father and most Kings before him, is able to speak to the common man as well as the court. In the play, we see the benefits of this ability to communicate. He not only speaks to all his troops and rallies them in some of their darkest moments to give it their all, but he is able to disguise himself and converse among them in order to get a feel for their perspectives. Something the Kings before him would not very likely have been able to do even if they wanted. Henry certainly takes his father's advice in "busying giddy minds with foreign quarrels" by demanding a justification for invading France and then doing so. But his mission is more challenging than that.
It's almost as if he's demanding God answer his great question. Is it divine? Is it God's will that he be King? He is vastly out numbered throughout his expedition, but he seems to enjoy the odds. Like a captain aboard a ship at sea being ravaged by a mighty storm, he's almost daring God to answer him. Henry V needs proof of his claim and I believe it is the miracle at Agincourt that is finally sign enough for him. When he reads the list of dead, which impossibly puts the larger death count with the French and only a few of his men, he gives all thanks and credit to God. To me he has finally accepted is role as King of England.
Shakespeare's Hal/Henry V are very different than history’s version. The real Hal, before he became king was a fierce and respected warrior general by the age of 16, I believe. Shakespeare, however, paints Hal as a young rebel who is simultaneously reluctant for the crown but also fascinated by its power.
The great question, set in motion at the end of Richard II, finally is concluded after being tested and tried through Henry IV parts one and two, at the end of Henry V with the marriage to the French Princess.
Study Questions and Essay Topics
1. Which character in the play do you most admire? Which character do you least admire?
2. Write an informative essay analyzing Henry V’s ability as a military leader.
3. In an essay, compare and contrast the Henry of the play with the Henry of Henry IV Part I.
4. Is Henry primarily interested in achieving glory for himself? Or is he sincerely and selflessly devoted to the English cause?
5. Write an informative essay analyzing the strategies used by the English and French in the real – life Battle of Agincourt.
6. Research Shakespeare’s theatre. What were the limitations of the space?
What is a “wooden O”?
7. Research the Plantagenet family tree. Chart it. Who was Henry’s father?
Grandfather? Great Grandfather? Brothers? Uncle?
8. Research Henry IV’s rise to power. How did he become king? How did Henry V become king?
9. Research the battle of Agincourt. The English were victorious even though they were greatly outnumbered by the French. How did they accomplish the victory? What were the rules of war? In what ways were the rules of war broken by the French? By the English? How do the rules or war differ today? How are they similar?
10. Read Henry IV, Part I and Henry IV, Part II. What is Prince Hal’s relationship with his father? Why does Prince Hal rebel? What does he learn through this rebellion? In what ways does he change as a result of it?
What is Hal’s relationship to Sir John Falstaff? To cronies, Pistol, Bardolf, Nym, Mistress Quickly? How do these experiences influence Hal once he becomes king? How does his relationship with his Eastcheap friends, specifically Falstaff, change once he becomes king? Find examples in the text of Hal’s maturation process.
11. What was the Salic Law?