Buy Tickets From the 2017-2018 Season: The Reign of King Edward the Third Playing September 23, 2017 to October 01, 2017

Two weeks only


$15 General Admission Preview Thursday September 21
$20 General Admission Preview Friday September 22

Drew Reeves

With the claim of Prince Edward III to the French throne, the Hundred Years War begins.
In part one: Edward rescues and woos the Countess of Salisbury. Both married to other people, Edward and the Countess agree to each kill the other’s spouse, but who is fooling whom and who will follow through? In part two: A young Edward (also known as the Black Prince), convinced of his rightful claim to the throne of France, fights hard on the battlefield to win his father’s respect and the right to become England’s King.

A part of The Shakespeare Evolution Series!

Join the cast and crew members for a lively Question and Answer session on Sunday September 24 after the show! 


Read the Plot Synopsis

Edward III Plot Summary
Based on the First Quarto Text of 1596
By Michael J. Cummings © 2003

In a palace council chamber in London, King Edward III confers the title Earl of Richmond on Robert of Artois, a banished Frenchman. Well does Artois deserve the honor, Edward believes, for Artois is helping the king understand the line of succession to the throne of France--a line of succession that appears to favor Edward, the undisputed King of England, as the rightful king of France. Here is the the gist of what Artois tells the king: 

Upon the death of his father, Edward II, in 1327, fifteen-year-old Edward inherited the English throne as Edward III. Because his mother, Isabel, was the daughter of King Philip IV of France, Edward also stood to inherit the throne of France through his mother if Philip’s three sons died before Edward. These three sons did accede to the French throne as Louix X, Philip V, and Charles IV, but the last of them--Charles--died in 1328 while Edward was still a teenager. Since there was no remaining male heir to the throne, the right of succession should have passed through Isabel, the last of Philip’s surviving children, to Edward, Artois says. .......Another Frenchman, the Duke of Lorraine, arrives at court to tell Edward that if he presents himself before John, the current King of France, within forty days and acknowledges him as the rightful ruler of France, John will grant Edward the dukedom of Guienne. Artois and Prince Edward, the worthy son of the English king, both dismiss the brazen offer and ridicule John. Lorraine leaves in a huff. War looms.

Meanwhile, belligerent Scots under King David invade England, capture Berwick and Newcastle, and besiege a castle at Roxborough that lodges the beautiful Countess of Salisbury, the daughter of the Earl of Warwick. King Edward dispatches troops to engage the French while he marches against David and the Scots. When Edward reaches Roxborough, the Scots flee and Edward prepares to pursue them until he sees the countess. Her charm and her looks utterly bewitch him, and he abandons his campaign against David to woo her. Although he and the countess are both married, Edward unabashedly proclaims his love for her. Morally upright, she rejects him–and refuses to yield to importunities from her father, whom Edward has forced into speaking up on his behalf. In the end, Edward and the countess never know each other except through eye contact.

In France, the English capture Barfleur, Lo, Crotoy, and Carentan and lay waste the countryside even though John has a massive army that includes allies from Denmark, Bohemia, Sicily, Russia, and Poland. After John withdraws with 100,000 men to the plain of Crécy, he and King Edward–now encamped in France–meet briefly during a lull in fighting and exchange insults before the French move on. On King Edward’s behalf, the Earl of Derby tells King John that Edward has a just claim to the French crown.
Prince Edward, known as the Black Prince, receives a splendid suit of armor from the Earl of Derby, Lord Audley, Artois, and his father, and then pursues John and his forces. But the French wheel and set upon him. All seems lost for the young warrior, especially when King Edward refuses to march to his aid. His son must fend for himself to prove his mettle–or die. However, the prince rallies his forces and wins the day. When he arrives at his father’s camp with the body of the King of Bohemia, his father pronounces the prince a “fit heir unto a king.” King Edward then orders his son and Audley to pursue John’s army as it flees toward Poitiers while the English king and his forces besiege Calais, a seaport in northern France.

At Calais, bully news arrives from England: Armies of the crown have defeated the Scots. Moreover, John Copland, an esquire, has captured King David. King Edward sends a dispatch summoning Copland just as Edward’s wife, the queen, arrives at the port of Calais for a visit with her husband. After Edward pitches his tent near the shore to await his wife, the burgesses of Calais agree to surrender if Edward grants the town clemency. Edward tells a French captain that six of the town’s wealthiest merchants must
Come naked all, but for their linen shirts,
With each a halter hanged about his neck,
And, prostrate, yield themselves upon their knees,
To be afflicted, hanged, or what I please.
(Act IV, Scene II, Lines 74-77)

King John, meanwhile, turns the tide and traps Prince Edward. Then he dispatches a herald to deliver this message to the prince: John will spare the prince if he surrenders on his knees with one hundred high-ranking men. Ever bold and proud, Prince Edward spurns the offer. Suddenly–and inexplicably–a strange darkness descends on the French camp, and ravens hover over the troops, unnerving them. Attempting to hearten his army, John says the ravens are merely awaiting the spill of English blood. While the troops cower beneath the ominous birds, a French officer arrives with a prize captive, the Earl of Salisbury. The king summarily orders him to the gallows. Salisbury protests, declaring that he has a passport granting him travel rights through French ranks. He had obtained it from the Duke of Normandy, he claims, in exchange for the release of a French prisoner named Villiers. John refuses to honor the pass; however, the duke (John’s eldest son) steps forward and confirms that he granted the passport, swearing a vow to honor it. The king then releases Salisbury, telling him he may go to Calais to tell King Edward to prepare a grave for his son.

Prince Edward’s situation indeed appears hopeless, for his archers have spent all their arrows. But the resourceful prince orders his troops to use what French soil has in abundance–flint. Still distracted by the ravens, the French troops panic. When some of them flee, their own compatriots turn against them. John’s son, Prince Philip, observes: “One poor David hath with a stone foiled twenty stout Goliaths. Some twenty naked starvelings with small flints have driven back a puissant host of men. . . .” Prince Edward once again has turned what appeared to be certain defeat into a victory.

At Calais, King Edward decrees death for the six merchants brought before him. However, after the queen persuades him to show mercy, he relents. Copland then arrives with the captive Scottish king and Salisbury with news that Prince Edward appears doomed. Shortly thereafter, though, a herald delivers the glorious tidings that the young prince has won another great victory and, what is more, has brought with him two royal captives:

Rejoice, my lord, ascend the imperial throne. 
The mighty and redoubted Prince of Wales,
Great servitor to bloody Mars in arms,
The Frenchman’s terror and his country’s fame,
Triumphant rideth, like a Roman peer,
And lowly, at his stirrup, comes afoot
King John of France together with his son
In captive bonds; whose diadem he brings
To crown thee with and to proclaim thee king. 
(Act V, Scene I, Lines 177-184)
All is well for the English after these opening battles of the Hundred Years War.

http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net


Director's Notes

Directed by Mary Ruth Ralston

Show Information

Show Roles

Performances September 23-Oct 1, 2017

Show Times
Shows at The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse begin at 7:30pm, except on Sundays, when they begin at 6:30pm

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How difficult is this Shakespearean play to grasp? On a scale of 1 to 10.
8
 
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These plays are extremely passionate and heavy on religious, historical and/or political content. The language is complex and the themes are dark. We provide a synopsis in the Playbill for these plays which will explain any historical or political elements you may need to know. There may be increased violence, gore and sexuality (though there is never any nudity). If we feel a show contains a plethora of Graphic Elizabethan Poetry we will put that disclaimer in the blurb about the show

Note for all plays: The performers of The Atlanta Shakespeare Company are specially trained to make Shakespeare’s text and intention clear, no matter the plot or the subject matter. They know precisely how to get to the emotional core of each line, each moment, each scene. We promise you will understand everything! Leave the heavy lifting to us!

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