After an injury during technical rehearsals, actress Suzanne Bouchard had to drop out of Bring Down the House. After surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon and with the okay of her doctor, Bouchard returns to the role of Humphrey in Bring Down the House Part 1 and will finish out the run of the production through closing on March 12. “All of us were heartbroken when we found out the severity of Suzanne’s injury,” said Artistic Director George Mount. “We made a flurry of decisions in order to keep the show on track for opening, but held out hope that Suzanne might be able to return to the role since we’ve got long run for this epic show.” Director Rosa Joshi offered Bouchard the opportunity to return to the role of Humphrey if her doctor gave her clearance to do so. Staging adjustments have been made to accommodate Bouchard’s mobility challenges and acknowledge her injury. “We are so grateful to Marianne Owen and Meg McLynn for stepping into the show on such short notice to cover for Suzanne,” said Mount. “It’s really a testament to the depth and breadth of talent in our city that we have such great artists that have the ability to step up to this kind of challenge.” Owen had her last performance in the role of Humphrey on Sunday, February 19. For Bring Down the House Part 2, McLynn will continue in the roles of Old Clifford and King of France, parts previously covered by Bouchard, for the remainder of the run.
Over the weekend at a technical rehearsal for Seattle Shakespeare Company’s production of Bring Down the House, actress Suzanne Bouchard sustained an injury during fight call. Actress Marianne Owen will go on in the role of Humphrey in Bring Down the House Part 1 as Ms. Bouchard’s understudy. Actress Meg McLynn will replace Ms. Bouchard in the roles of Old Clifford and King of France in Bring Down the House Part 2. Seattle Shakespeare Company’s hope is that Ms. Bouchard will be able to return to the production and the role of Humphrey sometime during the run of Bring Down the House. The theatre and her cast mates wish her a safe and swift recovery. Seattle Shakespeare Company is thrilled to welcome Marianne Owen and Meg McLynn to Bring Down the House. Ms. Owen last appeared with Seattle Shakespeare Company in 2008 as the Countess of Rousillon in All’s Well That Ends Well. Over her 30 year career in Seattle, Ms. Owen has performed in many shows at ACT Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, The 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Empty Space Theatre, Village Theatre, and Intiman. A founding member of the American Repertory Theatre Company, she has also worked at The Public Theatre in New York, Arizona Theatre Company, La Jolla Playhouse, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Playwrights’ Horizons, Guthrie Theatre, Goodman Theatre, George St. Playhouse, and toured nationally in The Real Thing (directed by Mike Nichols). She earned an M.F.A. from Yale School of Drama and is also a weaver and fiber artist. Meg McLynn appeared in Seattle Shakespeare Company’s Wooden O productions of The Tempest in 2013 and, coincidentally, an all-female production of Julius Caesar in 2014. A singer as well as an actress, Ms. McLynn has performed with Book-It Repertory Theatre, Seattle Symphony, ArtsWest, Seattle Opera, On the Boards, Washington Ensemble Theatre, Theatre22, STAGEright, Centerstage, New City Theatre, Tacoma Actor’s Guild, Consolidated Works, Theater Schmeater, Theatre Off Jackson and Seattle Public Theatre. As a concert soloist, she performs the songbooks of Patsy Cline, Judy Garland, and Carly Simon with Purple Phoenix Productions, and she has been an Anthem Singer for the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle Shakespeare Company has canceled the Pay What You Will performances of Bring Down the House on January 25 and February 1, 2017 in order to accommodate rehearsals for Ms. Owen. Bring Down the House is an all-female, two-part adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry VI trilogy that runs through March 12, 2017 at the Center Theatre. From battlefield betrayals to royal court deceptions, Bring Down the House focuses on the scheming noble families of the houses of York and Lancaster as they jockey over who will wear the crown of England.
Tracking all the power players in the royal realm can be a bit confusing. We let you know who is important to know about and what to follow in our guide to Bring Down the House – an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry VI trilogy.
England’s Game of ThronesShakespeare’s Henry VI trilogy is historical fiction. It is a re-imagining of political rivalries, royal intrigue, jealousies, and clashes that tore England’s political system in two. Known as the War of the Roses, this roughly 30-year period of warfare resulted in the capture, disappearance, or death of many English nobles. The bloody feud gave rise to a new royal dynasty that ruled for more than a century.
Red vs. White – Rivals from the same familyThe York family (White Rose) and the Lancaster family (Red Rose) trace their ancestry to the Plantagenet House and Edward III who ruled England for 50 years and helped to create it into one of the first superpowers of Europe. Because of the complicated family tree, both have a legitimate case for their royal lineage.
So How Did We Get Here?Shakespeare wrote four other plays that led us up to this point: Richard II, Henry IV parts 1 & 2, and Henry V. King Richard II was overthrown by Henry IV (both were grandsons of Edward III). Henry V followed on to the throne after his father died. Henry V, through marriage, claimed parts of France under his rule. He died unexpectedly at age 36.
Child KingHenry VI was crowned King of England at 9 months old after his father, the war hero, Henry V dies of dysentery. He was the sovereign of two countries as his father had recently secured much of France. His uncle Humphrey is named lord protector until he comes of age.
Fit to Rule?Henry VI suffered several nervous breakdowns. He allegedly didn’t speak for an entire year and spent the battle of Albans laughing and singing near a tree. This is how the Duke of York seized power when he was named Lord Protector.
The She-Wolf of FranceMargaret of Anjou, Henry VI’s queen, engineered many of the alliances and was essentially the leader of the Lancaster faction against the Yorks. Henry VI’s ill health and instability made him a minor player in the battles.
Musical ThronesBoth Yorks and Lancasters held the throne during the War of the Roses. Some of them ascended to the throne twice. Major battles shifted the rule from one side to the other. And things didn’t really end when one side finally achieved the crown. There were internal factions that desired the royal seat.
All in the FamilyHenry VI’s mother, Catherine remarried after the death of her husband Henry V. Henry IV’s half-brothers (Edmund and Jasper Tudor) were both strong supporters of his claim, and eventually his nephew, Henry Tudor, united the two warring houses.
History Out of OrderShakespeare wrote the first section of his great plays about English over the course of just about two years. Henry VI Part 2 was the first to be written. Henry VI part 3 was written soon after, with Henry VI part 1 written last. Shakespeare then wraps ups events between the warring families with Richard III. He then examines the lineage of kings in a series of “prequels” a few years later starting with Richard II on through Henry V.
Who’s Missing?Bring Down the House is an adaptation of three plays that could easily take up to 9 hours or more to perform all together. That means some characters and plot lines had to be excised for our purposes. One major character that didn’t make the cut is Joan la Pucelle (Joan of Arc) and her story line. We instead focus on the family drama to create a swifter story.
Do you know your Yorks from your Lancasters? We’re not saying you need to bone up on all of English history for Bring Down the House, but we’ve found some really pleasurable ways to go about it. Take the weekend for a little binge watching or reading before coming to Bring Down the House, and you’ll be able to impress your friends with your royal knowledge.
ReadThe Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England by Dan Jones Dan Jones makes history feel like fiction. He delves into the personalities of the monarchs and their court to create vibrant tales about the medieval dynasty that ruled England for over 300 years. Filled with vivid characters (Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lionheart) and key events (creation of the Magna Carta, the Holy Land Crusades, the Black Death), the Plantagenet rule forged the first national identity for England. The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors by Dan Jones The mighty Plantagenet family’s dominance of the English throne got ripped apart in the Wars of the Roses. Discover the real stories that inspired Shakespeare to chronicle the epic sweep history in his plays. Delight in the backstories for characters portrayed in Bring Down the House and see how almost everyone was related either through marriage or blood. Brutus and Other Heroines: Playing Shakespeare’s Roles for Women by Harriet Walter When acclaimed British actress Harriet Walter found herself having run dry of Shakespeare’s parts for women, she turned to the male characters. And with them, a whole new world of possibility opened up to her. Discover Walter’s view on playing parts traditionally played by men as well as an account of her career on the stage.
WatchThe White Queen This lush television series based upon the popular novels by Philippa Gregory tells the events of the Wars of the Roses from the female perspective. The women behind the throne were power players in their own right. Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville, mothers and wives to kings, play the royal game perhaps even better than the men.
All 10 episodes are available on:The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses If you act fast, you can still catch this epic series on PBS online. These glorious television adaptions of Shakespeare’s plays open up the stories of the English crown in lovely detail. And they feature some of greatest British actors of our day.
ListenThe History of England podcast Dive deep into English history while you’re cooking dinner or commuting. This charming podcast is full of illuminating tidbits about the people and places that make up English history. You’ll have to do a bit of scouting about to go directly to the time of the Wars of the Roses, but it’s worth it.
GameReigns If you were a fan of choose-your-own-adventure books or just wanted to get the feeling for all that king has to deal with (peasant uprising, crumbling castles, placating the clergy, fighting battles), then this is the game to spend some time with. It’s quick and fun (and funny!)
Get it on: