Buy Tickets From the 2010-2011 Season: The Two Noble Kinsmen & Edward III (In Repertory) Playing March 09, 2011 to April 17, 2011
The Two Noble Kinsmen
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Troy Willis
A Suzi Recommended Show!
Runs (in repertory with Edward III) April 14, 16
One Play, Two Kinsmen, Three Dimensions, No Fourth Wall.
Two best friends, skilled fighters both, fall in love with the same girl while stuck in prison. Their friendship takes a beating as they try over and over to prove who is most worthy to have her. Part As You Like It, part A Midsummer Night’s Dream and based on Chaucer's "A Knight's Tale" from The Canterbury Tales, The Two Noble Kinsmen leaves the outcome hanging until literally the bitter end.
Watch a cute video interview with two of the leads here.
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Andrew Houchins
Runs (in repertory with The Two Noble Kinsmen) April 15, 17
Join us as we discover one of the causes of the Hundred Years' War between England and France: the claim of Prince Edward III to the French throne. 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 others’ spouse, but who is fooling who and who will follow through? In part two: A young Edward (also known as the Black Prince), convinced of his rightful lineage to the throne of France, fights hard on the battlefield to win his father’s respect and the right to become King.
Find out more about the story of the play and why Edward III is like the TV show "Lost" in this video.
WITH THE OPENING OF EDWARD III, THE ATLANTA SHAKESPEARE COMPANY HAS COMPLETED SHAKESPEARE’S 39-PLAY CANON!
Join the cast and crew members of The Two Noble Kinsmen for a Question and Answer session on Sunday March 27 after the show!
Join the cast and crew members of Edward III for a Question and Answer session on Sunday April 3 after the show!
Read the Plot Synopsis
Two Noble Kinsmen Plot Summary
Warning: Here be Spoilers!
By Michael J. Cummings © 2003
Three queens bear a sad tale to Theseus, Duke of Athens:
Cruel Creon, ruler of Thebes, has killed their husbands. Furthermore, he refuses them a decent cremation to “urn their ashes.” With Theseus are his Amazon bride, Hippolyta, and her sister, Emilia. All three sympathize with the queens, and Theseus vows vengeance. When war clouds gray the sky, they disrupt the lives of two noble kinsmen, Arcite and Palamon, the very best of friends. Although they are cousins of Creon, they loathe him passionately. Creon is bad news. Nevertheless, when Creon calls them to arms to fight the forces of Theseus, they bow to honor and duty and take up arms. Theseus wins the war, and the three queens get to incinerate their husbands. After the battle, Theseus reports that two enemy soldiers–Arcite and Palamon–fought with great valor and ferocity.
Theseus orders his best surgeons to tend to their wounds, declaring, “Their lives concern us much more than Thebes is worth.” Nevertheless, because they are enemies, he jails them. At the prison, the jailer’s daughter casts a roving eye upon Arcite and Palamon, who ripple with youthful good looks, and says, “It is a holiday to look on them.” While keeping company with the walls of their cell, the two men remain in good cheer–until they espy Theseus’ sister, Emily, in a garden below their cell window. She is the vision of visions, with enough beauty to blind the sun. Both men fall in love with her at first sight, then commence fighting over her. “I saw her first,” Palamon says. When Arcite stakes his claim, their friendship disintegrates, and Palamon threatens to brain Arcite with his shackles. Before they come to blows, the jailer hauls Arcite off to the duke, who banishes him from Athens. Palamon remains behind in the cell. While in exile in a forest near Athens, Arcite keeps thinking about Emilia. Unless he acts fast, he decides, Palamon will have her all to himself. Meanwhile, the jailer’s daughter falls hopelessly in love with Palamon and frees him. He takes refuge in the same forest that hides Arcite.
In the forest, Arcite encounters a lively group of countrymen scheduled to perform in games of wrestling and running before the duke in Athens. After they leave, Arcite disguises himself, catches up with them, and joins their company so that he can re-enter Athens and glimpse lovely Emilia. When he wrestles and runs in the games, still in disguise, his performance is so extraordinary that the duke, Emilia and Hippolyta shower accolades upon him. Later, after returning to the forest, he encounters Palamon in shackles, weary and hungry. The former friends wag wicked tongues against each other as they again declare their love for Emilia and vow to fight for the right to woo her. However, Arcite generously allows Palamon to rest up and regain his strength. What is more, Arcite promises to bring him food and drink. The lovesick jailer’s daughter, meanwhile, combs the forest for Palamon. So intense is her yearning for him that she goes mad. In her pitiable state, she is not unlike Arcite and Palamon: They, too, are madly in love with a person they hardly know.
After Arcite returns with meat and wine to rejuvenate Palamon–and files to remove his shackles–they renew their fight over Emilia. In another part of the forest, the countrymen recruit the mad jailer’s daughter, who has demonstrated her ability to dance. They believe she would make an entertaining addition to their troupe. When the duke and his entourage–including Emilia and Hippolyta–enter the forest to hunt deer, the countrymen appear and perform a lively dance. Nearby, Arcite and Palamon are about to cross swords when the duke happens upon them and says,
The kinsmen readily admit their crimes (violation of the decree of exile and escape from jail). But they also disclose that their crimes had a common cause, a noble cause: their love for the fair Emilia. Both want to be close to her. Both want to win her. Both are willing to die fighting for her. Their story touches Emilia and Hippolyta, and the duke decrees that Emilia must choose between them. The man not chosen must die. Arcite says:
Emilia tells the duke she cannot choose between them because “They are both too excellent.” The duke then orders the kinsmen to return in a month for a contest of strength. The winner gets Emilia; the loser gets beheaded. On the day of the contest, the struggle shifts back and forth–now favoring one, now favoring the other.
In the end, Arcite wins. As Palamon prepares to lay his head on the chopping block, he inquires about the fate of the jailer’s daughter and learns that she is to marry a wooer (disguised as Palamon). Then news comes that Arcite, while “trotting the stones of Athens” on his horse, fell off and suffered mortal injury. Before dying, he reconciles with Palamon and bequeaths him Emilia, saying Palamon was the better match for Emilia all along. Athens then prepares for a wedding and a funeral.
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 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 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, and Artois, 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.
Director’s Notes for The Two Noble Kinsmen
When I first read The Two Noble Kinsmen and approached Jeff Watkins about producing it, I never thought it would take 18 years; such is fate. I am honored to be directing one of the two remaining plays in ASC's completion of Shakespeare's 39 play canon. I find Edward III [1590-94] and Two Noble [1613-15] to be perfect bookends of the bard's career. The first, a history written in straightforward iambic pentameter; the latter a romance, written as a collaboration with John Fletcher that contains everything from song, dance, combat, comedy, tragedy, gods and nymphs and even a “kitchen sink:” Shakespeare includes a monkey!
As in other his late plays, such as The Tempest, the central proposition of The Two Noble Kinsmen is that humanity is dependent on providence. In the face of destiny one cannot comprehend, one can only accept their fate and hope the gods will refrain from annihilating them. This point of view is less pessimistic than it sounds, for the nobility of humanity's continuing survival in the face of such knowledge is impressive. At the very least, you can see the potential for such nobility in each individual. Two Kinsmen’s emphasis on nobility, while part of an old tradition of chivalric heroes in romance literature (it is based on Chaucer's "The Knight's Tale") also has a more immediate point: in the face of destiny, human beings are helpless, and it is necessary to accept this. That said, I believe this play suits itself well for the Tavern audience. I hope you enjoy tonight’s performance.
Director’s Notes for Edward III
Edward III: On Honor and War
One of the most fascinating themes (to me, at least) in Edward III is the nature of Honor and Chivalry. This play is filled with moments when a person from one high station in life (a King, a father, a Prince) is taught by a person from a lower station (a son, a commoner, a prisoner) what it is to be noble and honorable in a time of war. It almost seems that the people who are supposed to lead by example, the ones who should know better, have forgotten the rules of engagement. They have difficulty balancing the two ideas that a medieval mindset would have possessed in regards to chivalry: that “fighting and killing could be a blessed and meritorious act,” but at the same time, a “knight should be skilled in the art of acting courteously and conducting himself well in almost any given situation.”
It’s doubly intriguing when we acknowledge the fact that it was the nobility who established these standards for how to act. They wanted to set themselves apart from the merchant class, to justify their position in society. And yet it is the nobles and royals who need to be told the honorable thing to do at every turn, from how to treat a prisoner, to the importance of keeping an oath one has made to the enemy, to how men are supposed to behave in romantic affairs. Is it possible to be decent and upright when the code that defines decency is filled with so many contradictions (wherein we go to war to be chivalrous, but commit acts that are less than honorable)? Can an ideal be obtained when the tenets of that ideal seem to oppose each other?
The characters in Edward III will struggle with these complex questions in a manner that is very human and heartfelt, a manner that only Shakespeare could have provided. We hope that you enjoy watching them; working on them has been a true honor.
Edward III: Act One - 80/Act Two - 50 Kinsmen: Act One - 80/Act Two - 60
King Edward III - Drew Reeves*
Edward, Prince of Wales, his son - Matt Felten
Earl of Warwick - J. Tony Brown*
Earl of Derby - Vinnie Mascola
Earl of Salisbury - Paul Hester*
Lord Audley - John Curran
Lord Percy - Stuart McDaniel
Lodwick, King Edward’s Secretary - Stuart McDaniel
Sir William Mountague - Stephen Hanthorn
Sir John Copland - Stuart McDaniel
Robert, Count of Artois - John Stephen King
Earl of Mountford - Stephen Hanthorn
Two English Esquires - Matt Nitchie, Troy Willis*
English Heralds - Mary Russell, J. Tony Brown*, Paul Hester*, Matt Nitchie
Gobin de Grey - Josie Burgin Lawson
John the Second, King of France - William S. Murphey*
Charles, Duke of Normandy, his son - Nicholas Faircloth
Philip, his second son - Stephen Hanthorn
Duke of Lorraine - Troy Willis*
Villiers, a French lord - Matt Nitchie
King of Bohemia - Stuart McDaniel
Citizens of Calais - J. Tony Brown*, Josie Burgin Lawson, John Stephen King
French Captain - Troy Willis*
Polonian Captain - Matt Nitchie
A French Mariner - Josie Burgin Lawson
Three French Heralds - Mary Russell, John Stephen King, Vinnie Mascola
Frenchmen - J. Tony Brown, Paul Hester*, Matt Nitchie
David the Second, King of Scotland - Matt Nitchie
Earl Douglas - Paul Hester*
Scottish Messenger - Nicholas Faircloth,
Philippe, Queen of England - Josie Burgin Lawson
Countess of Salisbury - Mary Russell
French Woman - Mary Russell
The Two Noble Kinsmen
Theseus, Duke of Athens - Andrew Houchins*
Pirithous, an Athenian General - Drew Reeves*
Artesius, an Athenian Captain - Nicholas Faircloth
Palamon - Daniel Parvis
Arcite - Matt Nitchie
Valerius - Stuart McDaniel
Bavian - Paul Hester*
Herald - Christopher Rushing
Jailer/Keeper - Winslow Thomas
Wooer to the Jailer’s Daughter - Paul Hester*
Doctor - Clarke Weigle
Brother to the Jailer - Stuart McDaniel
Friends to the Jailer - Christopher Rushing, Kenneth Wigley
Gerrold, a schoolmaster - Nicholas Faircloth
Hymen - Clarke Weigle
Hippolyta - Mary Saville
Emilia - Kathryn Lawson
Three Queens - Eve Butler, Erin Considine, Becky Cormier Finch
Jailer’s Daughter - Amee Vyas*
Nymph - Amee Vyas*
Executioner - Nicholas Faircloth
Boys - Daniel Parvis, Stuart McDaniel
Prologue/Epilogue - Stuart McDaniel
Country men - Stuart McDaniel, Christopher Rushing, Kenneth Wigley
Country women - Eve Butler, Becky Cormier Finch, Debra Peterson
Maid - Erin Considine
Messenger - Eve Butler
Taborer - Clarke Weigle
Woman - Debra Peterson
Musicians - Daniel Parvis, Matt Nitchie, Becky Cormier Finch, Debra Peterson, Clarke Weigle, Stuart McDaniel, Kenneth Wigley, Kathryn Lawson
Bardometer RatingHow difficult is this Shakespearean play to grasp? On a scale of 1 to 10.
What does rating this mean?
These plays are extremely passionate and heavy on religious, historical and/or political content. There may be increased violence, gore and sexuality (though, unless noted, there is never any nudity). 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.
We recommend this type of play to Shakespeare-geeks, College or Advanced Students, frequent theatre-goers and people who like documentaries or “guy films”.
How to prepare for seeing this kind of play: You may wish to read the synopsis, search the internet for resources, or see a movie-version if one exists.