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In 2007 we kicked off our ambitious ENGLISH HISTORY CYCLE with a double bill of KING JOHN and RICHARD II.  In 2008, we continued the story of Henry Bolingbroke, Richard II's usurper, who became Henry IV; his son, the wayward Prince Hal; and Hal's mentor, the immoral immortal Sir John Falstaff. The shrewd political insight of RICHARD II is very much in evidence, and to it is added the riotous and earthy hilarity of Falstaff and his minions. Shakespeare's characteristically exquisite sense of balance and playmanship juxtapose scenes of Realpolitic, tavern trawling, and wrenching family dynamics, to sublime effect.




So shaken as we are, so wan with care,
Find we a time for frighted peace to pant
And breathe short-winded accents of new broils
To be commenced in strands afar remote.
          King Henry Act I scene I

Before I knew thee, Hal, I knew nothing, and now

am I…little better than one of the wicked.
            Falstaff Act I scene ii

I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyoked humor of your idleness.
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wondered at
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapors that did seem to strangle him.
If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work,
But when they seldom come, they wished-for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.
            Prince Hal Act I scene ii

My liege, I did deny no prisoners.
But I remember, when the fight was done,

when I was dry with rage and extreme toil,    
Breathless and faint, leaning upon my sword,
Came there a certain lord, neat and trimly dressed,
Fresh as a bride groom, and his chin new reaped
Showed like a stubble land at harvest home.
            Hotspur Act I scene iii

To put down Richard, that sweet lovely rose,
And plant this thorn, the canker, Bolingbroke?
            Hotspur Act I scene iii

If he fall in, good night, or sink or swim!
Send danger from east unto the west,
So honor cross it from the north to south,
And let them grapple. O, the blood more stirs
To rouse a lion than to start a hare.
By heaven, methinks it were an easy leap
To pluck bright honor from the pale-faced moon,
Or dive into the bottom of the deep,
Where fathom line could never touch the ground,
And pluck up drowned honor by the locks,
So that he doth redeem her thence might wear
Without corrival all her dignities.
            Hotspur Act I scene iii

Hotspur: That roan shall be my throne.
               Well, I will back him straight. O, Esperance!
Lady Percy: But hear you, my lord.
Hotspur: What say’st thou, my lady?
Lady Percy: What is it carries you away?
Hotspur: Why, my horse, my love, my horse.
Lady Percy: Out, you mad-headed ape!
                     A weasel has not such a deal of spleen
                     As you are tossed with. In faith,
                      I’ll know your business, Harry, that I will.
                                    Act II scene iii

I am not yet of Percy’s mind, the Hotspur of the north,

he that kills me some six or seven dozen of scots at a breakfast,

washes his hands, and says to his wife “Fie upon this

quiet life! I want work.”
            Prince Hal Act II scene iv

A plague of all cowards!—Give me a cup of sack, rogue!

—Is there no virtue extant?
            Falstaff Act II scene iv

Go thy ways, old Jack. Die when thou wilt. If manhood,

good manhood, be not forgot upon the face of the earth,

then am I a shotten herring. There lives not three good men

unhanged in England, and one of them is fat and grows old,

God help the while. A bad world, I say.
            Falstaff Act II scene iv

Falstaff: If sack and sugar be a fault, God help the wicked.

If to be old and merry is a sin, then many an old host that

I know is damned. If to be fat is to be hated then Pharaoh’s

lean kine are to be loved. No, my good lord, banish Peto,

banish Bardolph, banish Poins, but for sweet Jack Falstaff,

kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack Falstaff, valiant Jack Falstaff,

and therefore more valiant being as he is old Jack Falstaff,

banish not him thy Harry’s company, banish not him thy

Harry’s company. Banish plump Jack, and banish all the

Prince Hal: I do, I will.
                                    Act II scene iv 


Glendower: At my nativity
            The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes,
            Of burning cressets, and at my birth
            The frame and huge foundation of the earth
            Shaked like a coward.
Hotspur: Why, so it would have done
            At the same season if your mother’s cat
            Had but kittened, though you yourself had

            never been born.
                                    Act III scene 1

By being seldom seen, I could not stir
But like a comet I was wondered at,
That men would tell their children “This is he.”
Others would say “Where? Which is Bolingbroke?”
And then I stole all courtesy from heaven,
And dressed myself in such humility
That I did pluck allegiance from men’s hearts,
Loud shouts and salutations from their mouths,
Even in the presence of the crowned king.
Thus did I keep my person fresh and new,
My presence, like a robe pontifical,
Ne’er seen but wondered at, and so my state,
Seldom but sumptuous, showed like a feast
And won by rareness such solemnity.
            King Henry Act III scene ii

I will redeem all this on Percy’s head,
And, in the closing of some glorious day,
Be bold to tell you that I am your son,
When I will wear a garment all of blood
And stain my favors in a bloody mask,
Which, washed away, shall scour my shame with it.
And that shall be the day, whene’er it lights,
That this same child of honor and renown,
This gallant Hotspur, this all-praised knight,
And your unthought-of Harry chance to meet.
            Prince Hal Act III scene ii

Come, sing me a bawdy song, make me merry. I was as virtuously given as a gentleman need be, virtuous enough: swore little; diced not above seven times—a week; went to a bawdy house not above once in a quarter—of an hour; paid money that I borrowed—three or four times.
            Falstaff Act III scene iii

Let them come.
They come like sacrifices in their trim,
And to the fire-eyed maid of smoky war
All hot an bleeding will we offer them.
The mailed Mars shall on his altar sit
Up to the ears in blood. I am on fire
To hear this rich reprisal is so nigh
And yet not ours. Come, let me taste my horse,
Who is to bear me like a thunderbolt
Against the bosom of the Prince of Wales.
Harry to Harry shall, hot horse to horse,
Meet and ne’er part till one drop down a corse.
            Hotspur Act IV scene i

Doomsday is near. Die all, die merrily.
            Hotspur Act IV scene I

Prince Hal: Say thy prayers, and farewell.
Falstaff: I would ‘twere bedtime, Hal, and all well.
Prince Hal: Why, thou owest God a death.   [He exits.]
Falstaff: ‘Tis not due yet. I would be loathe to pay him before his day…. Honor pricks me on. Yea, but how if honor prick me off when I come on? How then? Can honor set a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No….What is honor? A word. What is in that word “honor”? Air….Who hath it? He that died o’ Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. ‘Tis insensible, then? Yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore, I’ll none of it.
            Act V scene I

The better part of valor is discretion.
            Falstaff Act V scene iv

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