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New Yorkers Take the Boat to France With Henry V

Thursday, July 07, 2011

'Henry V,' performed by New York Classical Theater, takes the audience on a journey to France that leaves from Castle Clinton in Battery Park. "Henry V," performed by New York Classical Theater, takes the audience on a journey to France that leaves from Castle Clinton in Battery Park. (Emily Rotella/WNYC)

All it takes is a wristband to head to medieval France for a few hours. The New York Classical Theater's production of Shakespeare's "Henry V" moves the audience from Battery Park to the battle of Agincourt - staged on a field in Governor's Island, that is. 

The New York Classical theater uses a technique they call "panoramic theater" to involve and move the audience throughout the show. As scenes move from one location to the next, the audience kneels or sits in formation to watch before taking off running to catch up with the actors. 

"You move from one place to another place, like, right now we're moving," said eleven-year-old Yardena Gerwin, as she pointed out Ellis Island to her sisters Adina and Mikaela. "I find that really fun because it keeps you interested. For the little kids, running around and getting be first and sit first -- it's like this whole competition," she said.

Sipping intermittently from his water-filled backpack, the show's director Stephen Burdman said that the most important thing was to get the widest audience possible for classical productions.

"This is Shakespeare that is accessible to anybody, it doesn't matter what your background is, how much you make, where you went to school, where you live -- it doesn't matter. You see the audience at our shows and it's incredibly diverse," he said.

Free performances take place July 6 through 10, 12, 13, 15, 18 through 21 and July 24 as part of this year's River to River festival. Interested audience members can line up at the River to River booth in Battery Park to receive one of 500 wristbands that are distributed beginning at 5 p.m. on performance days. All performances begin at 7 p.m.

The journey begins at Castle Clinton, a round structure in Battery Park.
Emily Rotella/WNYC
The journey begins at Castle Clinton, a round structure in Battery Park.
The audience follows the action, with actors parting the crowd as part of the technique of
Emily Rotella/WNYC
The audience follows the action, with actors parting the crowd as part of the technique of "panoramic theater."
A little swordplay gets big laughs. 50 percent of audience members have been to productions by New York Classical Theater before, according to director Stephen Burdman.
Emily Rotella/WNYC
A little swordplay gets big laughs. 50 percent of audience members have been to productions by New York Classical Theater before, according to director Stephen Burdman.
Audience members file onto the ferry that takes them to Governor's Island, yellow wristbands in the air.
Emily Rotella
Audience members file onto the ferry that takes them to Governor's Island, yellow wristbands in the air.
Performers do scenes under the cover of life savers.
Emily Rotella/WNYC
Performers do scenes under the cover of life savers.
Christopher Cass stands proud as the King of France.
Emily Rotella/WNYC
Christopher Cass stands proud as the King of France.
The audience gathers at various settings on Governor's Island, many commenting that they have never explored the island's fields and cul-de-sacs.
Emily Rotella/WNYC
The audience gathers at various settings on Governor's Island, many commenting that they have never explored the island's fields and cul-de-sacs.
The big moment in
Emily Rotella/WNYC
The big moment in "France" comes as the audience storms the battlefield for the Battle of Agincourt. "I brought my New York attitude," said one audience member about his biggest weapon.

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Comments [1]

Emily R.

I so enjoyed participating in this performance! And as an audience member running through scenes and chasing characters, it really did feel like I was part of the show. The different settings were fantastic backdrops for the scenes and the acting was wonderful. Shakespeare's words rang clear and alive. And Governer's Island is a treat to visit any day! Thank you to the New York Classical Theater for a memorable theater experience.

Jul. 08 2011 11:15 AM

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