Saturday, May 12, 2012

Henry V  "Once More" Has Staying Power

On a show, Hoppus on Music, that normally focuses on a different genre-Music and Musicians, guest actor Tom Hiddleston performed an impromptu Once More Upon the Breech monologue, "the Globe Theater-worthy speech from Henry V."

Mr. Hiddleston is known most recently for his part as Captain Nicholls in War Horse and as Loki in The Avengers. Hiddleston has just finished filming TV movies Henry IV and Henry V. I look forward to seeing these productions.

Hiddleston is winded afterward showing that acting bears a similar exertion to that of a singer or musician playing an instrument. Another parallel of this spontaneous recital to a Globe theatre's Henry V is that it like a the production that would have taken place in Elizabethan theater had no scenery.  A Chorus (a single actor) would have been calling out the images of the scene at hand so the audience could imagine what what was physically lacking on the stage. The audience would have to use their minds to create pictures like when one reads a good book. I think that audiences don't just want to be entertained and that's another reason why this type of display is popular. It provides a taste of high brow culture to audiences that are inundated with commercial and sensationalist entertainment.

Henry V keeps coming back and back again in Shakespeare adaptations. In this case, it's simply a spontaneous performance on a talk show, but the idea that scenes from a play written over hundreds of years ago have strong resonance in this digital age speaks to the strength of the piece. It has maintained a place in popular culture. Witness the use of Henry V by a legal marketing company JDSupra to represent one of main principles of legal procedure - communication.

Henry V is a truly inspiring play. Whether one sees it on the stage or on the big screen with the 1944 Olivier or 1989 Branagh version, one cannot help but draw inspiration about the story of the former Prince Hal, from Henry IV, who becomes a regal monarch and leads the English army to a defeat of the French at the Battle of Agincourt. One of the things that Henry V does extraordinarily well is communicate; about his goals and rousing his subjects to help achieve them. Today we use the prism of Henry V to look at Principle V of the Six Principles of Adequate Procedures; that being “Communication (including training).”
Whether for the entertainment of a talk show audience or for an example of exemplary example of procedure in business, Shakespeare's Henry V maintains a place in the world today four centuries after it was written.

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