After a July run in The Brick’s “Shakespeare in the Theater” festival, This England is extending for four more performances August 25-28 at our old home, IRT Theater. As we prepare for this second run, we're sitting down with our actors to find out why they love performing Shakespeare, what their favorite moments from the show are, and (most importantly), who they side with in the Wars of the Roses.
Our fourth interview is with Shannon Stowe. This is Shannon’s first voyage with Strange Harbor. She plays King Henry VI, the Duchess of Gloucester, the Earl of Northumberland, the Duke of Lancaster, a Murderer, and the Mayor of London in This England.
Strange Harbor: What do you most enjoy about watching and performing Shakespeare?
Shannon Stowe: It is a visceral experience. Performing Shakespeare requires total commitment of body, voice, and mind. If you hold back even ONE little bit, you feel it. In a way it requires abandon and trust in the language. As a performer, it's a great and rewarding challenge to do that.
SH: What first drew you to this project?
SS: I LOVE Shakespeare first of all, but the concept was very intriguing. I have worked on other projects that combine Shakespeare's works in various ways and it always opens the door to new discoveries.
SH: Which of your characters do you feel the most connected to? Why?
SS: Henry VI because of the choices we have made to focus, in this abbreviated version of his rule, on the fact that he wants to be heard and seen as a valuable, strong person in his own right. I think that's something most people can identify with.
SH: What has been the hardest challenge in working on this play?
SS: This condensation has been one of the hardest elements of the play. We collapse three whole plays into one scene. It took some real ups and downs to find a way into that. You can't look at everything and have to pick something that fits THIS play and THIS moment. There is always more that I wish I could bring into the story, but it wouldn't really make sense in this condensed version of Henry VI.
SH: Do you have a favorite line or moment in the play?
SS: I love the moment with Richard and Henry VI leading into "Now is the winter of our discontent..." It's a great transitional moment that I wish I could see!
SH: York or Lancaster?
SS: Both are my kinsmen and I love them both.