Wednesday 30th October – Saturday 2nd November 2002  (5 performances)
Joseph Rowntree Theatre

Director’s Notes

So why Richard III, you may ask? On the other hand, you may be an avid supporter of Richard III and already be aware of the link between this historical figure and our beautiful city. Maybe we should explain.

From the point of view of the Shakespeare canon, it was one of his earliest – if not first – plays and therefore comes within our remit to do all the plays in approximate chronological order. Our version of the chronology puts Henry VI part two as the first play followed by parts three and one!

Shakespeare’s play, Richard III is an ambitious undertaking with its cast of 26 but for The York Shakespeare Project it is an excellent starting point, linking this canonical writer to our own local history.

From a York point of view, Richard III, last of the medieval English kings, had a close connection with the city and was known as “our full tender and especial good lord”. Indeed on hearing of his death at Bosworth Field in 1485, the City of York Council minutes recorded: “King Richard, late mercifully reigning upon us, was through great treason of the duke of Norfolk and many others that turned against him, with many other lords and nobles of this north parts, was piteously slain and murdered, to the great heaviness of this city.” That was unlikely to please Henry VII.

Richard was born in 1452, the youngest son of Richard, Duke of York and his wife, the former Cecily Neville. He reigned for a relatively short period between 1483 and 1485, and his name is inextricably linked with the mysterious disappearance of his nephews, the ‘Princes in the Tower’. A more in-depth historical account can be found by visiting the Richard III Society website.

It has always been a bone of contention with the supporters of Richard III and many historians that Shakespeare wrongfully portrayed the king as a villain, captivating and amusing, but a villain nonetheless. There is historical evidence that Richard was in fact an efficient administrator and a just king. Certainly the people of York thought so.

So what prompted Shakespeare to turn Richard into an English ‘Machiavelli’, deformed and treacherous? The key may lie in what has come to be known as ‘The Tudor Myth’, the officially sanctioned record of the Tudor dynasty. This royal house was founded by Henry, Earl of Richmond who came to the English throne as King Henry VII following his defeat of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. It is only natural that the new royal house, whose claim to the throne was felt to be questionable, would set out to bring into disrepute the old.

The play was first performed in 1592 or 1593 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry VII’s granddaughter. Drawing from Thomas More’s History of King Richard the Third (c. 1513), Shakespeare borrowed much detail of the personality portrayed therein: Richard’s habit of gnawing his lip and his political cunning, for instance, creating one of the most popular Shakespearean villains ever.

So if Richard was such a good king, why is the York Shakespeare Project starting its ambitious timetable with a character assassination of one of the city’s greatest supporters? Well, it is one of his first plays and we would have to do it in the first five year cycle. And anyway we are performing Shakespeare’s dramatic version of Richard, not an historical accuracy. But why make it the first? Well, we couldn’t resist it!

 

Cast

Richard III Alan Booty
Clarence Alan Lyons
Brackenbury/Norfolk Lee Maloney
Hastings Mike Bennett
Lady Anne Marija Maher
Rivers/Tyrell Richard Mead
Grey David Hartshorn
Queen Elizabeth Judith Ireland
Buckingham Chris Rawson
Stanley, Earl of Derby Tim Holman
Queen Margaret Barbara Miller
Catesby John Ford
1st Murderer/ Messenger Jamie Searle
2nd Murderer/Messenger Frank Brogan
King Edward IV Tom Goldberg
Duchess of York Sheila Shouksmith
Archbishop of York/Bishop of Ely Harry Telfer
Edward, Prince of Wales Alex Deadman
Duke of York David Orman
Mayor of London James Webster
Cardinal Bouchier Hugh Curristan
Ratcliffe Jeremy Muldowney
Richmond Ian Bithell
Oxford/Herbert/Blunt Ray Baggaley
Ladies-in-Waiting Fay Barrie, Kay Hyde, Kim Jenson, Isobel Steer,
Jean Wall, Mary-Anne Dearlove, Eleanor Barbour

Music

Instrumentalists

Piccolo/flute/treble recorder Tamsin Beetham
Piccolo/flute/treble recorder Sarah Greaves
Flute/tenor recorder Maxine Gee
Bassoon Jessica King
Trumpet Oliver Smith
Timpani/percussion TPaul Toy

Singers

Soprano Anne Parkinson
Alto Paul Toy
Tenor John Sharpe
Bass Kit Bird

Crew

Director John White
Set Design Michael Wall
Costume Design Eleonor Barbour
Stage Manager Paul Jarvis
ASM Chris Maloney
Lighting Terry Johnson, Lee Coverdale, Chris Maloney
Costume Mistress Angie Miller
Producer Lee Maloney
Co-Producer/On the Book Ali Borthwick
Production Assistant Sue Whittaker
Musical Director Paul Toy
Original Composition Jessica King
Set Builders Kim Jenson, Adrian Webster, Mark Rhodes,
Malcolm Law, Frank Brogan, Michael Stewart,
Rene Thomas, David Stoddart, Lee Maloney,
Michael Wall, Sharon Finlayson
Prop Makers Amanda Crawford, Malcolm Law,
Monica Nelson
Wardrobe and Costume David King, Danielle Broadbent, Katherine Hirst
Make-up Mary-Anne Dearlove, Isobel Steer
Graphic Arts Sue Whittaker
Publicity and Marketing Effie Arestides
Front of House Linda Maloney, Kat Dale
Graphic Design Neil Milne
Printing Simon Eldritch
Education & Community Outreach Jennifer Aitken
Drama Workshop Leaders Amanda Strevett-Smith, Frank Brogan,
Effie Arestides, Lee Maloney

Note The names of cast, musicians and crew have been verified from the programme, updated with the “Additions and Amendments” sheet issued as an insert to it.