Listen: Dan Widdowson chats to Katrina Roe about his latest theatre production. Above: Dan Widdowson (centre) with the cast of 'Henry V'.
When the pop-up Globe Theatre came to Sydney last year, it was a huge hit with Sydney audiences. It was clear that the works of Shakespeare were as entertaining and relevant as ever.
If you missed The Pop-Up Globe, but still want to savour some Shakespeare, here’s a second chance. Former Hope personality and actor, Dan Widdowson, is presenting a production of Henry V with his Salt House Theatre Company, both directing and playing the lead role of Henry V.
“I love Shakespeare’s Henry V because he was such a scallywag in the Henry IV Part 1 and Part 2. He was a real rebel, he was a drunkard, he was a thief — and all of a sudden he’s redeemed in his faith through Christ, and now as a redeemed king he’s got to prove to his people that he is worthy of kingship, considering his old past.”
Dan says there’s some great cheekiness in the character, “but his faith is really genuine and he has all these battles of the heart, mind and soul.”
While the play is known for exploring the implications of war, Dan says his production has a slightly different focus.
“Yes, war happens, but we’re presenting it in a way where it’s not a play about war at all. It’s actually a play about a man of faith who has to lead his nation through war, and navigate war in order to find a peaceful end.”
Widdowson’s Christian faith has been a big influence on the production. He has even sacrificed his old Bible, one he read prolifically when he first became a Christian, for the production. Dan has torn out the pages and is using them to create a backdrop that will end up spattered and stained with blood by the end of the show. It means the performance cannot be repeated, as the set will be completely destroyed.
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“At the end of the day they are just pages – it’s the words themselves on your heart that make the difference, so I think it’s a fitting way to farewell it,” he said.
Dan is confident that the production will be accessible to all people, even those who aren’t familiar with Shakespeare. “If Shakespeare is performed well, you do understand it. If you come to the end of the night after watching a Shakespearean performance and you don’t understand it, that’s on the actors.”
King Henry V is playing at Darling Quarter Theatre for one night only on Friday Aug 16. Book through the Salt House Theatre Company website.
- Listen to this interview in the audio player at the top of the page.