Henry V (2012)

Henry V

  • June 5 - October 12, 2012
  • Directed by Joseph Haj | By William Shakespeare
Run Time:Closed October 12

The spoils of war

A gifted young English king makes a rash decision to go to war. Against overwhelming odds, Henry V achieves heroic stature, leading his country to victory, conquering France and winning its princess. But the king’s hands are dirty. There’s a terrible cost in human life and ruthless acts of moral ambiguity. In a propulsive, provocative production with contemporary resonances, Shakespeare’s rousing history crowns Henry’s complicated three-play journey from disaffected prince to legendary king.

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King Henry begins his reign desiring to go to war in France. In the preceding play, Henry IV, Part Two, Henry’s father had advised him to distract his warring nobles with outside conflicts. Henry is also influenced by church leaders, who want him to engage in war to distract him from a bill being considered by Parliament that would strip away half their lands. But most of all, Henry appears to want to recover his ancestral birthright in France and at the same time continue to redeem his old dissolute reputation.

Henry’s justification for war rests on one obscure point of Salic law: whether the throne can be inherited through the female line. This legal point is interpreted by the bishops in the king’s favor. Henry’s resolve is further strengthened after he receives the Dauphin’s mocking gift of tennis balls and insults.

The country rouses quickly and prepares for war, but the French bribe three of Henry’s former friends—Scroop, Grey and Cambridge—to attempt to assassinate him. Warned of their treachery, the king presents them with their “commissions” (actually arrest warrants). As for Henry’s old Eastcheap friends, Mistress Quickly has jilted Nym for Pistol, and Falstaff dies offstage.

In France, the war begins with the siege of Harfleur. Since the Dauphin has declined to come to Harfleur’s aid, the governor of the city surrenders under Henry’s threats. However, dysentery (“the bloody flux”) has taken a huge toll on the English army during the siege. The French, having previously offered Henry the hand of Princess Katharine and some French lands if he will forgo his attack, send their herald, Montjoy, to declare their defiance and offer Henry terms for his ransom. Montjoy’s ransom terms are rebuked, and King Henry marches his men onward to meet the French.

On the eve of the battle, Henry borrows a cloak and wanders among his soldiers, disguised as one of them. He debates with a soldier named Williams about the responsibility a king owes to his soldiers in bringing them into a war. As their argument heats up, they exchange gloves to recognize each other and finish the fight when they next meet. Morning comes, and the armies engage. While far outnumbered, the English quickly gain the advantage over the French. But when they learn that the French have regrouped, Henry orders that all of his soldiers kill their French prisoners. The French attack the luggage train, killing the unarmed boys there, but ultimately are defeated. The English lose 29 men, the French 10,000. Montjoy comes to ask permission to clear the French dead from the field, granting the day’s victory to the English forces. The Battle of Agincourt is done.

After returning to England, Henry comes back to France to negotiate the peace. He woos Katharine while the rest of the nobles finalize the terms. The play ends with a treaty and wedding preparations, but in the Epilogue, the Chorus reminds the audience that Henry’s son will lose all of his father’s gains in France and lead his country into bloody civil war as well.

Artistic Team

Joseph Haj
Scenic Designer
Richard L. Hay
Costume Designer
Jan Chambers
Lighting Designer
Justin Townsend
Music and Sound Designer
Todd Barton
Alan Armstrong
Voice and Text Director
David Carey
Voice and Text Assistant
Sara Becker

Cast List

King Henry V
John Tufts*
Archbishop of Canterbury/Burgundy/Ensemble
Richard Howard*
Jeffrey King*
U. Jonathan Toppo*
Ted Deasy*
Rodney Gardiner*
Howie Seago*
Daisuke Tsuji*
King of France/Ely/Erpinham/Ensemble
Bernard White*
Robert Vincent Frank*
Cristofer Jean*
Raffi Barsoumian*
Nym/Jamy/French Soldier/Ensemble
Ramiz Monsef*
Brent Hinkley*
Russell Lloyd
Darek Riley*
Shayne Hanson
Governor of Harfleur/Ensemble
Josh Bowen
Hostess Quickly/Alice/Ensemble
Judith-Marie Bergan*
Brooke Parks*
Lisa Tejero*
Christine Albright*
Kelvin Underwood
* Member of Actors' Equity Association (AEA)
**AEA Professional Theatre Intern
  • Henry V

    Sneak Peek

    Get a sneak peek of our 2012 production of Shakespeare's Henry V, directed by Joseph Haj.

  • Joseph Haj

    The Story

    Director Joseph Haj discusses Henry V.

  • David Carey, Josh Simpson

    Artist Profile: David Carey

    Voice and Text Director David Carey shares his goals for actors' voice and text training for the 2012 production of Henry V and working on the outdoor Elizabethan Stage.

  • KLCC logo

    KLCC Radio Eugene

    “The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s straight-forward, clear presentation of Shakespeare’s 'Henry V' at the Elizabethan Theatre is intellectually stimulating from start to finish. It’s a psychologically acute entertainment that follows the former Prince Hal as he grows into a highly effective and even heroic king. At war with the French, he leads his men into the heart of the battle. Unlike the French Dauphin, for Henry there’s no sitting around on horseback watching the slaughter from a distant hill.” (scroll to end of audio news cast for the review)

  • Shakespearances.com logo


    “In this particular 'Henry V,' I saw more kinship with another production running this year at OSF: 'All the Way', the new play about Lyndon B. Johnson’s first year as U.S. president. Perhaps this was solely my frame of mind in this election year and not that of director Joseph Haj, but I saw this Henry waging a political campaign as much as he was waging a military one. John Tufts, continuing in the role of Hal...is a commanding King Henry, not only as the character but also in his acting skills.

  • Sacramento Bee logo

    The Sacramento Bee

    “Director Joseph Haj's starkly effective 'Henry V' shows the young king wielding his newly gained power with a dark and wholly unsentimental focus. Using a mainly black, white and dark gray costume and scenic palette, this taut history play pushes King Henry V into the ranks of English legends…The excellent John Tufts' Henry coolly turns his back on a dissipated youth and the clueless remnants of the bar-crawling crew he was once so thick with as he takes his place on the throne.”

  • REgister Guard logo

    The Register-Guard

    “This spare, muscular production was directed by guest artist Joseph Haj, whose résumé notes he previously directed the play at a ‘medium security prison in Los Angeles.’ Haj apparently has learned a thing or two about keeping the story moving, about the power of understatement and about working with a minimalist set… If you’re looking for straight-up, approachable Shakespeare this summer, Henry is a winner.”