The Queens Players, who work out of the Secret Theatre of Long Island City, on the heels of their critically acclaimed production of As You Like It (which received not one, but two rave reviews from BlogCritics) hope to keep their hot streak alive with their upcoming revival of William Shakespeare’s much loved historical drama Henry V, which opens this Wednesday.
From the press release:
When the French reject [Henry's] claim, Henry sets off to invade France and win the crown. But he faces daunting odds—an army unprepared for war, a people skeptical of his abilities, and the well-trained and large French forces… In The Queens Players production of Henry V, director Rich Ferraioli uses Shakespeare's acknowledgment [by the Chorus in the Prologue] of the inescapable artificiality of theater to examine the idea [that] people are all actors playing roles—none more so than Henry, who must convince the world that he is a king worthy of his throne.
Mr. Ferraioli, who lives in Long Island City, is a graduate of Hofstra University, where he helped mold and create the university's Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in directing. In 2008, he became a graduate of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab.
For over three years now, he has been working with The Queens Players and has directed such diverse works as The Spanish Tragedie, Lysistrata, and Hamlet. Most recently, Mr. Ferraioli helmed Jay Prasad's original work Daily Sounds for the NYC Fringe Festival, which had its debut at the Cherry Pit Theatre.
Although very busy in bringing Henry V to life, Mr. Ferraioli was gracious enough to take a few minutes to answer some questions for Blogcritics.
Could you give us a short synopsis of the play and what you hope audiences will get from it?
Shakespeare's Henry V is one of his most well known "history plays." It focuses on the reign of Henry V who we have seen grow up and mature in Henry IV Part I & II.
The play opens at a time where Henry stakes claim to France based on his belief in an ancient Salic law. It chronicles the battles of Harfleur and eventually the winning battle of Agincourt. We see through the eyes of Shakespeare's great narrator, Chorus, how Henry struggles through the decisions that must be made during these times and the many different "faces" of war.
What do I hope the audiences get from it? Well, that is a great question. Today we find ourselves in a world led by a great orator; a leader who uses the power of words to motivate change. One who is both young and energetic. One who many believe is not right for our country and is making decisions from the heart. Can you see the parallels between Obama and Hal? I believe that this play is very relevant in today's world; Shakespeare shows us a world of war filled with love, death, and recovery. And how even the winners have a tough time – just ask Pistol.
I also believe the audience will see that this is a great example of a play that addresses minimalistic theatre. I am a firm believer that a play is about text and characters and not about the spectacle that drags down so many current productions. We use a few rehearsal blocks and items that can be found on the loading dock of our space. Costumes are minimal and so are props. Shakespeare is begging the audience and the actors to use their imagination. Hopefully, the audience goes with us on our journey!
What was your impetus for wanting to direct Henry V?
I worked on Henry V in college and always found that it was such a powerful play. The famous orations by Henry have stuck with me. I think this play might be the most accessible of Shakespeare’s works, especially at this time. I believe that this is a good first attempt for our company, as we have done Shakespeare’s comedies and his tragedies but this is our first history!