Henry Four: The Shadow of Succession is a new adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry the Fourth, Parts 1 & 2. It is the result of a unique collaboration between Amy Driesler and Nick Trotter. The show premiered April 3 & 4, 2015, at 8:00 p.m., at Brooklyn Arts Exchange in New York City.

For this production, we were joined by Laura Livingston as director, as well as  Jonathan Hicks, Laura Valpey and Jake Ottosen, filling out the cast. Our ace stage manager was Marcina Zaccaria.

The April production was a big success, and we are looking forward to returning to work on the show in late 2015. Stay tuned!

When Amy began to investigate her own interest in playing Prince Hal, she approached Nick, a practicing clown, with the idea of playing Falstaff. One of the first things that grabbed Amy about this story/these plays is Hal’s stunning rejection of Falstaff at the end. What leads him to dismiss his friend and mentor in that particular fashion? What happens to turn the comedy into a tragedy?

The answer lies in Hal’s journey from prodigal prince to warrior-king, as he gradually takes on the mantle of leadership under the stern eye of his father, King Henry IV. The story plays out against the backdrop of partisan politics and war, as Henry defends and consolidates his power and tries to pass it on to his son. The foremost challenge to that power comes from  the fiery Hotspur, who leads the rebels into battle against the King, and who is killed in combat by Hal. Eventually Hal becomes Henry V, one of the most beloved kings in all of English history. To do that, though, Hal must abandon his old carousing partner Falstaff, who has been a father-figure to him in many ways.

To draw out these relationships, we are casting Amy as both Hal and Hotspur, and Nick as King Henry and Falstaff, and stripping away extraneous subplots and characters. By double-casting, we are focusing on the fascinating complexity of the two sets of son and father characters. We want to use Shakespeare’s four-way mirror to illuminate the dualities that all humans have within themselves: austere and excessive; prodigal and provident; calculating and impulsive. By casting the same actor to play characters who are seemingly opposites, we invite the audience to experience how disowned parts of ourselves often show up in others in our lives to challenge us to a deeper awareness of our shadow selves. We will also use simple shadow puppetry to provide settings and augment the action.

The result is a simple production with minimal but powerful stage effects, focusing on human relationships and growth. It’s a fresh, energetic and physical take on a classic text, which will both entertain and engage the audience’s awareness of personal and social issues. Circo de Nada is producing this piece because the show exemplifies the project mission of “Entertaining the Imagination,” and making direct contact with the audience via live theatre.