November 18, 2010
In a picture-book country field a short drive from York, about 300 spectators have gathered at the site of one of the bloodiest battles ever fought on English soil. Sporting camping chairs and hampers, they’ve come to the village of Towton to watch a triple bill by England’s greatest playwright.
William Shakespeare’s three Henry Vl plays are being staged back-to-back in this quintessential English setting in a single day. It’s the first of four dates that will see these dramas – produced by the Globe Theatre in London – presented at the actual battlefield sites they feature.
“They’re the plays that come before the rise of Richard lll, so they’re about the houses of York and Lancaster,” says the director, Nick Bagnall.
“They’re a major, vital part of our history that seems to get forgotten. They deal with an incredible amount of human story at war, and that’s what really excites me about them.”
The three dramas chronicle the Wars of the Roses – the civil conflict between the rival families of York and Lancaster – which reached a decisive moment at Towton on Palm Sunday, 1461.
“It’s estimated 28,000 men died in these fields where we’re stood now,” Mr Bagnall says, “and most of the men didn’t know who they were fighting because of the weather conditions.”
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