Thursday, February 3, 2011

3 Henry 6 Background Info


i. can't. believe it. it's the middle of the day and i am blogging. this might not sound out-of-the-norm to you, so let me tell you how it usually goes. on an average day, i have class and homework and rehearsal and coaching and meetings that i'm doing from about... 9 am to 11 pm. no joke. i pick up a few lines of Shakespeare here and there throughout the day, but inevitably 11 rolls around and i'm not finished with my reading yet. i attempt to finish my reading in the car on the way home, and start writing around midnight if i'm lucky. BUT NOT TODAY BABY! miraculously, nothing is due in class tomorrow, i have a break from coaching, a class was cancelled, and i have no meetings til six. WOOT! lucky me. so i am doing this thing now. and when i get home tonight, i am walking straight into my bed. *contented sigh*

i am pretty excited to finish out the Henry series. i realize that Richard III is technically part of it, but it's different. i've read that play before and i don't read it again til later AND we're not dealing with Henry VI in that one. the story takes a different and exciting turn.

i feel like i have a pretty clear grasp of what's going on, but here's some stuff to help launch us into it:
-we left off in part 2 with Henry and Queen Margaret running away to London from Richard, Duke of York and his cronies. things are not looking up for Henry and the Lancaster house.
-basically, 1 Henry VI is about the start of the War of the Roses, England's struggle to maintain rule over France, and Henry's childhood as King. 2 Henry VI is about Henry's inability to rule effectively and all of the plotting and hypocrisy that goes on to overthrow him. apparently, 3 Henry VI is about the total meltdown of Henry's reign, with families and countries and relationships crumbling all around him. sounds exciting to me!

and here are some fun facts:
-it is believed that the Henry VI plays were not written in chronological order. (although i read them that way for my sanity.)
-this play supposedly has the longest of any of Shakespeare's soliloquies! it's in act 3.
-i am finding that this play (along with 1 Henry VI) is said to be one of Shakespeare's weakest? due, in part, to excessive and unnecessary violence. any confirmations, denials, or considerations out there?
-for more exposure to this play, there is a BBC mini-series called An Age of Kings which covers Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, and Richard III! episodes 12 and 13 are the ones that deal with 3 Henry 6. i am seriously going to have to look at this. maybe i can watch and report on these over the summer! (also thinking of doing a whole Shakespeare in film series over the summer. whadya think?)

anyone have anything to share about 3 Henry 6? i'd love to hear it!

for tomorrow: 3 Henry 6: act 1, scene 1

here we go!

-rebecca may


  1. As of Sunday I will be rehearsing this play (which we will open after 30-40hrs of rehearsal with no director). It is, to me, a masterful piece full of loss, tragedy, and a bit of comedy. Honor is an interesting question in this play.

    As you read it I'd be interested in what you think of the characters and the oaths they make, and how easily or difficult it is to break those oaths.

    Salisbury (Warwick's father in part 2) is a bit split up into different characters in this play. Just so that there's no confusion heading into it. That is the biggest mind-bender between 2 and me.

  2. Rebecca, the reasons you listed (that some have given to support their judging this play as one of Shakespeare's weakest) resemble the ones cited by people who claim Shakespeare could not have written TITUS ANDRONICUS. Personally, I see sex and violence everywhere in Shakespeare and the Bible and the world in general, such that I always have difficulty understanding why it surprises anyone. Unless it is gratuitous, poorly timed, awkwardly staged, or in some other way lacking support in the text, I doubt I would ever complain. (And I might not complain if it were gratuitous, poorly timed, awkwardly staged...) Of course, not having read this play, I cannot defend its specific instances of violence.

  3. Tyler, I will be keeping my eyes and brain open! Thanks for the insight. I would love it if you would share some of your experiences with us.
    Susan, you crack me up. And you make a good point.