American Shakespeare Center brings ‘Henry V’ to Sweet Briar

National Public Radio’s Bob Mondello has said the American Shakespeare Center is “Blowing the cobwebs out of Elizabethan drama.” On Saturday, Jan. 19, the Staunton, Va.-based troupe will blow into Sweet Briar College with its production of “Henry V.”

The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Murchison Lane Auditorium at Babcock Fine Arts Center. It is the second event in the College’s 2007-08 Babcock Season.

For nearly two decades, ASC has performed on both sides of the Atlantic and boasts the world’s only re-creation of William Shakespeare’s indoor theater, Blackfriars Playhouse. “Henry V” is one of three plays in the company’s “Piercing Eloquence Tour,” which also includes “The Merchant of Venice” and “The Taming of the Shrew.”

Directed by Giles Block, “Henry V” tells the story of King Henry V of England and his struggled to win the crown of France. It is performed with minimal sets and lighting, which allows the actors to see and interact with the audience.

“On a superficial level it is a very patriotic play, filled with stirring speeches that encourage the audience to support Henry and his policies,” said Bruce Danner, an English professor at St. Lawrence University, where ASC performed in October.

“Underneath its patriotic surface, however, Shakespeare also questions the way in which Henry manages his rule and prosecutes the war effort.

“The American Shakespeare Center’s production takes advantage of King Henry’s speeches to engage the audience directly. Many of Henry’s speeches are delivered to the audience, as if they were Henry’s troops being urged into battle.”

Tickets go on sale Monday, Jan. 14 and are $10 for adults; $5 for non-SBC students; $7 for senior citizens, and free to SBC faculty, staff, students and alumnae and children younger than 12.

For reservations e-mail boxoffice@sbc.edu or call 381-6120.