Wales Millennium Centre and Omidaze Productions to stage all-female Henry VI in the Centre’s roof void
Building on the success of last year’s groundbreaking all-female production of Shakespeare’s Richard III, Wales Millennium Centre and Omidaze Productions are once again joining forces to co-produce an all-female version of Henry VI, 1- 20 Feb 2016. Staged in Wales Millennium Centre’s roof void and starring Cardiff born Casualty star, Suzanne Packer, this exciting promenade performance, featuring breathtaking displays of aerial circus skills, explores notions of power, leadership, trust and conflict while challenging preconceived ideas about how and where Shakespeare should be staged.
Living, as we are, at a time where issues of violence, power struggle and conflict arise daily on the news, Shakespeare’s Henry VI – set during the War of the Roses – raises questions which are as relevant today as 400 years ago: How do we resolve our conflicts? How do we react to upheaval? What messages are we sending out to our children and future generations about how we respond to threat?
Performed in the Centre’s exciting and unconventional theatre space – the roof void – this all-female production promises to offer a unique and memorable audience experience, shedding a new light and perspective on Shakespeare’s work and engaging new audiences.
Challenging conventions by casting women for every role, this Omidaze Productions and Wales Millennium Centre co-production seeks to raise awareness around employment equality for women in an industry where less than 30% of the creative talent is female, even though women make up 68% of theatre audiences.
Pushing boundaries even further, Henry VI is to be played by actor and aerial artist, Hannah O’Leary, adding a new dimension to the role through the incorporation of aerial circus performance – choreographed by Paul Evans (Flying Diplodocus and Crashmat Collective).
Also starring in the show is Cardiff born Suzanne Packer, best known for her role as Tess Bateman in Casualty. Commenting on the importance of engaging new audiences in Shakespeare through original and dynamic productions she said: “The more people that can be made to feel comfortable with the national treasure that is Shakespeare the better.”
Other Welsh performers starring alongside Suzanne include Sioned Jones, Louise Collins, Hannah O’Leary, Alice White, Polly Kilpatrick, Lizzie Winkler and Shala Nyx.
Director of Henvy VI, Yvonne Murphy, has said: “I am absolutely delighted to be back and to have been given this amazing opportunity to create the prequel to last year’s Richard III alongside a ground-breaking audience engagement project. Omidaze was founded with the express purpose of using theatre to empower, inform, entertain new audiences, shake stuff up and inspire change. I believe passionately that access to arts and culture is a fundamental right of every British citizen and that the arts and Culture belong to everyone as do our cultural buildings. Who is Shakespeare for anyway and how, why and where should it and can it be staged? If this production helps one more person feel like they have a right to theatre, Shakespeare and the arts generally, opens a door to Shakespeare for just a few more people and shifts perspective just a little around gender stereotyping and inequality then we have succeeded.”
Artistic Director at Wales Millennium Centre, Graeme Farrow, commented: “After the incredible success of Richard III last year, I’m very pleased the Centre is once again working with Omidaze Productions on a second all-female Shakespeare production. Exciting for so many reasons, the production not only raises awareness of the need for increased roles for women in theatre, but also challenges preconceptions about how Shakespeare should be performed and who it can appeal to. Our roof-void certainly proved itself as an exciting and atmospheric performance space when it was first used for the staging of Richard III, and I have no doubt it will shine again for this inspiring play.”
Henry VI forms part of WOW Caerdydd 2016.
Henry VI is at Wales Millennium Centre 1 Feb – 20 Feb 2016. Matinee performances available. Age guidance 9+. For more information and to book tickets visit www.wmc.org.uk or call the ticket office on 02920 636464.