Blackfriars Playhouse: “The Fall of King Henry”

Late last night, my cab from the airport crossed over the recently named Martin Luther King, Jr. bridge in Staunton. I nearly missed it for the dark; my ride-share, a very kind director from California, pointed it out. I have never been to Virginia, but I’m thrilled to be finally attending what many scholars consider to be their favorite academic convening: the biennial Blackfriars Conference at the American Shakespeare Center.

Along with full days of top-notch papers—Tiffany Stern, Paul Menzer, Jim Marino, Claire Bourne, and Christina Dennehy all in one day!—the schedule permits conference-goers the chance to see the full complement of productions running at the re-created indoor Jacobean space. (We also learned that all the innovative thinking about early modern theatre architecture and archeology is happening in New Zealand and Australia.) Tonight, “The Fall of King Henry (3 Henry VI),” tomorrow “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” and for dessert, “Much Ado About Nothing.” Having been dispirited by seeing the “Much Ado” recently concluded at Shakespeare’s Globe in London this past August, it is nice to be back in a performance space still interested in being a site to test ideas about early modern performance.

Greg Brostrom as King Lewis XI and Shunté Lofton as Lady Bona in The Fall of King Henry (Henry VI, Part 3). American Shakespeare Center. Photo by Lindsey Walters.

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