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 sixth interview is with Jack Plowe, another Strange Harbor newcomer, who plays King Henry VII, the Duke of York, the Earl of Westmoreland, Richard Plantagenet/York, and Lady Anne in This England.
Strange Harbor: What first drew you to this project?
Jack Plowe: First off, the chance to work with [co-artistic director] Zach again outside of college. I loved working with him in Naked Shakespeare and the opportunity to work again in a more professional setting has been amazing. Secondly, I'd only ever worked on Richard II and I didn't really know the other histories very well. The chance to work on all of them at the same time and be able to track the story of the entire saga was incredibly intriguing.
SH: Which of your characters do you feel the most connected to? Why?
JP: I'm most connected to Plantagenet/York from Henry VI, as well as Lady Anne. York is my meatiest role, and as such, has more for me to dig through and play with. He's also a strong, decisive guy, which I am not in real life, so getting to play with that has been great.
Lady Anne is a challenge because she's a young woman and I am very much not. Playing her is a stretch outside of my comfort zone, which is always exciting, and even though she only has one scene where she speaks, the arc of that scene with Richard III is incredibly intense. She goes from mourning her husband and father-in-law to agreeing to marry the man who killed them. It took a lot of work and a lot of weird rehearsals where we flipped the power dynamics or tried odd styles, but the end result has been amazing.
SH: What has been the hardest challenge in working on this play?
JP: The hardest challenge has probably been trying to work a play's worth of character arcs into sometimes half a scene. Normally a character's arc would play out over an hour or two, but with This England, we have to get through so much so quickly that trying to stay true to the intent and not having the same amount of space to develop that intent has been difficult. However, I think that challenge pushed everyone involved to double down and really come up with some incredible work.
SH: Do you have a favorite line or moment in the play?
JP: My favorite moment in the play is in Henry VI when Henry returns after York seizes the throne and tries to reassert that he is York's sovereign, to which York merely replies, "I am thine." That simple declaration conveys so much power, and a boasting of his right. However over the course of the rest of that scene, York sees what this insistence results in: he watches his sons and friend threaten Henry and winds up letting Henry rule in his stead.
SH: York or Lancaster?