Author: Sabine Kortals

CSF concludes Henriad cycle

“Henry V” and “Henry VI” Part 1 close the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s 58th season.

When “Henry V” opens on Thursday, July 16 (preview) and Friday, July 17 (opening night) as part of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, audiences will experience the conclusion of the four-play Henriad cycle that began in 2013.

Benjamin Bonenfant — a young, rising star who started working at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival as a University of Colorado student in Colorado Springs — appears in the title role as King Henry V of England, continuing the maturation of the young prince he played last season in “Henry IV,” Parts 1 and 2.

“The Henriad cycle is ultimately a war story that follows the journey of the crown,” said Bonenfant, who joined the Actor’s Equity Association this summer. “In ‘Henry V,’ the transformation of a prince into a king is complete. This transformational aspect represents not only the character I play, but my own transformation of roles as an actor.

“I’m playing the same guy in a completely different mode. He’s leading his country into war and learning how to be a man, as well as a leader. Where I’ve played the prince, the lover and younger men in the past, now I’m stepping into a much larger, central figure. I’m incredibly excited and grateful.”

Bonenfant also plays Charles in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s sold-out Original Practice production of “Henry VI,” Part 1, Aug. 2 and 5.

“Since we’re among the first Shakespeare theatre companies producing Original Practice-style works, we’re lucky to have an expert like Vanessa Morosco leading the charge as director,” said Producing Artistic Director Tim Orr. Indeed, Morosco has performed in more than 20 productions of Original Practice-style Shakespeare at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia.

“The goal of no-frills Original Practice productions is to put ourselves under certain rehearsal and performance conditions that Shakespeare’s company would recognize as commonplace,” explained Orr. “What’s exciting is that these conditions — where the actors prepare their roles in isolation and are offered minimal stage direction — fundamentally change the relationship between actor and audience. By applying these conditions, we experience some of the joys that Renaissance actors and audiences must have reveled in. It’s immensely satisfying and a wonderful counterpoint to an otherwise fully-produced season.”

The Colorado Shakespeare Festival last performed “Henry VI,” Part 1 in 1967. “Henry VI,” Part 1 is sold out.

(Photo by Jennifer Koskinen: Benjamin Bonenfant as Henry V and Jenna Bainbridge as Princess Katherine.)