“No, my good lord, banish Peto, banish Bardolph, banish Poins, but for sweet Jack Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack Falstaff, valiant Jack Falstaff, and therefore more valiant being, as he is, old Jack Falstaff,
Banish not him thy Harry’s company,
Banish not him thy Harry’s company.
Banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.
Prince: I do; I will.”
So as an audience member, you see that scene played out in that Tavern. Now is the stage on the Globe. Near a Tavern you might’ve stopped at. So you really see yourself coming into this Royal world.
And after Falstaff makes this heartfelt plea prince Hal responds, I do, I will. And in that moment, We get a glimpse of, oh yeah, he’s going to become Henry the fifth. Isn’t he going to become this king, who is the leader who was no longer in the Tavern. So we see this transition from the Tavern to the position of power from being prince.
How to have a good time, now to being Henry V at Agincourt, all of that is how London is now, not all of Henry V takes place in London. Some of it, we pretend, you know, he asks us to pretend, let this become the vast fields of France, but those important moments are often London on the stage.
And that happens frequently in those history plays. So we have these really important moments that people know about and then see played out on the stage. And in that case, people who would never be invited to court, get that moment to come in, to see prince Hal in a Tavern, have this conversation.
That’s a very revealing moment when he says I do. I will and we know that eventually in Henry V later on, he says, I know the old man falls to thy prayers when Falstaff comes toward him and wants to be recognised. So the Tavern is also gone by that point, he moves on to another world and Shakespeare uses London locations to show us how that happened.
So it’s just this fabulous way that Shakespeare jazzes us with some locations. And one of my very favourites. So later in Shakespeare’s career, so we’ve got the Globe up and running doing well before it burns down, but Shakespeare’s company has also had their eye on an indoor theatre. And in fact, they purchased or Burbage purchased Blackfriars before he built the Globe, but he couldn’t get permission because the Blackfriars theatre is in the good part of London.
And they didn’t really want players and theatre there. Eventually they are able to get permission to start performing at the Blackfriars. It’s a smaller theatre and it’s indoors. People are seated. They’re not standing and wandering around. So it’s a different kind of experience. But one of the most fascinating things is later in Shakespeare’s career.
When he, along with Fletcher writes the play Henry the eighth subtitled all is true, which is just hilarious. When you think about Henry the eighth and the way he presents himself so much is not true, but anyway, be that as it may be pretty ironic, but in Henry, the eighth all is true. There’s a really important moment.
That. And this is in the play where Henry’s first marriage to Catherine of Aragon has put on trial. Historically that trial took place at Blackfriars church. In that moment, everyone was Catholic. This was the beginning of the religious tension that is still reverberating dangerously in Shakespeare’s time; this is still something that people are facing every day.
We call those religions now, Catholic and Protestant. Of course, the terms we use now did not mean the same thing then, but there are these two camps and Protestantism is splitting into different factions. And so we have all of this religious tension and one of the very first moments of. Is this trial because Henry VIII has decided to set aside his first wife and to do so he’s claiming the marriage never really happened.
So there’s this trial to look at the veracity of the marriage that took place in Blackfriars. Now between the time that took place in the reign of Henry VIII, and now in the reign of Elizabeth. The reformation has happened and the dissolution of the monasteries has happened and Blackfriars has become a theatre.
So you could watch that scene, that trial scene in the same building, where it originally took place. And perhaps your parents by Elizabeth rain, it’s very possible that your parents may have been involved or may have been a witness to that first, the actual trial, the first playing out of this, in this building.
And now it is a part. Of this play, that Shakespeare is bringing to you. So it’s really wonderful. And this is again toward the end of Shakespeare’s career. So it’s in the time of king James, but it’s a time of looking back. To the earlier queen, she’s now gone there, a resurgence of nostalgia about queen Elizabeth.
The first that is happening during the reign of king James, that Shakespeare is tapping into just a little bit in his play, Henry the eighth, is that he’s also recognising that religious tension that has lasted. All these years and has not yet been resolved. And as we know, historically, won’t be resolved for hundreds of years, but to see that moment that happened in Blackfriars now happening now being put on a stage in Blackfriars is another way that London just shapes Shakespeare’s plays.
And he does that deliberately. He knows what he’s doing when he sets these scenes in certain locations. And he reminds us all what, this is really all about.
Hazel Baker: Carol Ann, you have given me goosebumps.
Carol Anne Lloyd: Oh, that’s wonderful.
That’s all for now. Part 2 will be released next week, just in time for the Bard’s birthday!