The War of the Roses returns to York this summer, courtesy of William Shakespeare – and there will even be an open-air production at one of the original battlefields.
Shakespeare’s Globe will be opening their UK tour at York Theatre Royal for the first time, presenting the three Henry VI plays under their original titles – Harry the Sixth, The Houses of York & Lancaster and The True Tragedy of the Duke of York – from Wednesday 26 June to Saturday 13 July.
This is the perfect chance for York audiences to see the internationally-renowned Shakespeare’s Globe company without having to travel to London. And where better to see the sequence propelled and shaped by the royal ambitions of the House of York?
An all-day performance of the three plays will also be staged in the open air at Wars Of The Roses battlefield Towton on Sunday 14 July. This will be an unprecedented theatrical event, exploring the links between English history, English literature and English landscape.
Towton is considered the bloodiest battle fought on English soil, claiming 28,000 lives.
The Henry VI plays begin with the death of Henry V and together chart the entirety of his son’s turbulent reign. They encompass the stories of Joan of Arc, who is burnt at the stake at the end of Harry the Sixth, and Jack Cade, whose short-lived peasant rebellion is depicted in The Houses of York & Lancaster. Yet at the heart of all three plays is the lethal struggle between York and Lancaster.
The black comedy that builds with each reversal of power in The True Tragedy of the Duke of York ultimately sets the stage for the ascent of Shakespeare’s demonic Richard III, which York Theatre Royal will be producing in the autumn.
Although usually performed as a trilogy, the Henry VI plays were not intended as such and each one can be enjoyed without knowledge of the others. The Globe will present each of the three plays as stand-alone productions, emphasising their individual strengths and qualities, while also providing the opportunity to see all three staged chronologically in a single day.
Battlefield performances will take place on simple booth stages, offering audiences an authentic experience of early modern theatre.
The three plays will be directed by Nick Bagnall, whose previous directing credits include Betrayal (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield) and Entertaining Mr Sloane (Trafalgar Studios). Nick is joint artistic director of the Milton Rooms, Malton. Designer Ti Green was nominated for two Tony awards and an Outer Critics Circle award for her set and costumes for Coram Boy (Imperial Theatre, New York).
Founded by the pioneering American actor and director Sam Wanamaker, Shakespeare’s Globe is a unique international resource dedicated to the exploration of Shakespeare’s work and the playhouse for which he wrote, through both performance and education.
- Tickets are available now for individual performances, £8-£20, family tickets £36-£58 and see all three plays ticket deals £30-£147 (on same or different day)
- For performance times and more details please contact York Theatre Royal Box Office on 01904 623568 or visit the Theatre Royal website