From the 2010-2011 Season: Henry VIII and Anne of The Thousand Days, in repertory Playing September 12, 2010 to October 24, 2010

Mary Russell, Troy Willis, Laura Cole

We continue our Canon Completion Project with two tales about Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn: one more historically factual, the other a more personal look at their relationship.

Henry VIII
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Jeff Watkins
Performances: October 2, 10, 16, 22, 24

Shakespeare’s History saga continues. Here we get to know Henry VIII as a virile young man bouncing between his loyal wife Catherine of Aragon and other women in his court. Full of grand pageantry, watch the coronation of Anne Boleyn and the christening of Elizabeth and listen to the famous speeches the noble Duke of Buckingham, the deceitful Cardinal Wolsey and Queen Catherine give as they all fall from grace.

Historical Note: During a performance of Henry VIII in 1613, a stage-cannon was fired which caused the thatched roof to catch fire and Shakespeare’s theatre burnt to the ground.

Anne of The Thousand Days
By Maxwell Anderson
Directed by Jeff Watkins
Rights Provided by the Robert A. Freedman Dramatic Agency, Inc.
Performances September 30 & October 3, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 17, 21, 23

Intimate details come to light as Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII separately relive the memories of the 1000 days of their tempestuous relationship. Watch as their tragic love story slowly unfolds and abruptly comes to an end. Full of adultery, power and deception, Anne of The Thousand Days explores the loss of innocence in so many ways.

Video: Mary Russell talks about playing Anne Boleyn in two different plays

Completion of the Canon is made possible by the special generosity of ASC's Board of Directors

Henry VIII Q&A: Sunday September 19 after the show.
Anne of The Thousand Days Q&A: Sunday October 3 after the show.

Read the Plot Synopsis

Synopsis for Henry VIII (No Synopsis for Anne of The Thousand Days)

Thomas Wolsey wields enormous power as Cardinal of York and Lord Chancellor of England. So great is his power that it rivals even his enormous appetite for food. The upright Duke of Buckingham, who serves as Lord High Constable, worries about Wolsey’s power and his influence on King Henry VIII. So he decides to warn Henry that Wolsey is bad news. Wolsey, however, has already envenomed the king’s ear against Buckingham, telling Henry that Buckingham covets the crown and means to win it. It is true that Buckingham would inherit the crown if Henry dies without an heir, but it is not true that Buckingham has kingly ambitions. Nevertheless, the king’s officers arrest him for treason. They march him to the Tower of London for imprisonment. 
Meanwhile, the king’s wife, Katherine of Arragon, importunes Henry to relieve a tax burden on the people. Katherine’s plea springs from genuine concern for the welfare of her subjects. She is good and sincere and caring. Her motives, unlike those of Wolsey, are pure, without taint of desire for political gain or fortune. The tax–recently imposed by Wolsey without the king’s knowledge–requires citizens to pay the Crown one-sixth of their income, supposedly to defray the costs of military action against France. Henry says he knows nothing of the tax. When he asks Wolsey about it, the cardinal explains that the tax was enacted according to the “learned approbation of the Judges.” The king resolves the issue by granting Katherine’s wish, repealing the onerous tax law and absolving activists who opposed it.  Out of hearing of the king, Wolsey orders letters sent to every county in England announcing that it was he who persuaded Henry to unburden the populace of new taxation. 

Queen Katherine is more sympathetic to Buckingham and does not trust the Duke’s Surveyor, who is apparently under the control of Wolsey.  This Surveyor tells Henry that he “heard” Buckingham claim that if the king dies without a male heir, Buckingham will take the Crown and make it his. 

Henry holds this issue in abeyance while attending to other matters–in particular, a banquet at Wolsey’s residence at which he meets the comely Anne Boleyn, the daughter of Sir Thomas Bullen. When Henry dances with her, she captivates him.

At a trial, Buckingham is declared a traitor and sentenced to death. Afterward, he forgives his accusers, then yields his neck to the executioner’s axe. But Henry does not dwell on Buckingham’s death; instead he bends his mind toward Anne. To make room for her, he claims that his marriage to Katherine is profane. After all, she is the widow of his own brother, Arthur. (There was a belief, prevalent before and during the Sixteenth Century, that marriage to an in-law was a form of incest.) Also, Henry asks: Could not the only child Katherine has given him, Mary, be considered illegitimate, as a bishop has suggested?

Meanwhile, in a conversation with an old lady in an antechamber of the queen’s apartment, Anne expresses pity for Katherine after hearing that the king means to renounce his marriage to her. Anne declares that she herself would not want to be queen. The old lady pronounces Anne a fool for saying such a thing. At that moment, the Lord Chamberlain interrupts their conversation to announce that the king admires Anne and has conferred on her the title of Marchioness of Pembroke and a purse of a thousand pounds a year.

Later, in a courtroom, Henry, Wolsey, a papal envoy named Cardinal Campeius, and other officials hold a hearing on whether Katherine’s marriage to the king is valid. Katherine defends her honor and her loyalty to Henry, and charges Wolsey as the instigator of the hearing. Wolsey denies the charge even though it was he who urged the king to invalidate the marriage. However, Wolsey strongly opposes marriage between Henry and Anne, a Lutheran. Instead, he wants Henry to marry the Catholic Duchess of Alençon, the French king’s sister, to form an alliance with France.

Wolsey sends letters to Pope Clement VII in Rome but the letters miscarry and end up in Henry’s hands, along with a detailed account of all the wealth Wolsey has accumulated for the purpose of buying his way into the position of Pope. In an antechamber of the king’s apartments, the Duke of Norfolk and the Duke of Suffolk disclose this information to the Earl of Surrey. The three men are Wolsey’s adversaries. A fourth adversary, the Lord Chamberlain, tells the other three that the letters were for naught anyway, for the king has already married Anne Bullen and scheduled her coronation. It was not the Pope who annulled Henry’s marriage to Katherine, but the Archbishop of Canterbury. He did so, without Vatican approval, to ingratiate himself with the king. 

While the two dukes and the earl continue their conversation, Wolsey enters the room, followed moments later by the king. Henry presents Wolsey the intercepted letters, then walks away, frowning. Norfolk, Suffolk, and Surrey crowd around the cardinal, telling him to surrender the great seal (with which official papers are stamped to signify the king’s approval), the symbol of his power as Lord Chancellor. 

Surrey is especially pleased at Wolsey’s sudden reversal of fortune–and with good reason: the beheaded Buckingham was his father-in-law. He, Suffolk, and Norfolk then charge Wolsey with a catalogue of offenses, including making numerous agreements with foreign rulers without King Henry’s knowledge. Suffolk tells Wolsey he must forfeit all of his property–lands, buildings, chattels–to the Crown. Sir Thomas More is to replace him as Lord Chancellor. Wolsey has only one course of action: to retire from court. When bidding farewell to his old friend and servant Cromwell, Wolsey repents his past actions, surrenders his fortune to the king, and advises Cromwell to eschew ambition.

Anne becomes queen; Katherine is declared princess dowager.  (This “renaming” relegates her to being merely the princess from Spain who is the widow of Henry’s dead older brother Arthur and strips her of both titles of Queen and wife.) She is removed to Kimbolton, where illness afflicts her. She asks Griffith, her gentleman-usher, what has become of Wolsey. Griffith tells her that he was received at an abbey at Leicester and three days later–died. Capucius, an ambassador serving the Holy Roman emperor Charles V, visits Katherine at the request of Henry to tell her that the king wishes her good health. She tells Capucius that time has run out for her but expresses hope that Henry prospers while she keeps company with worms in her grave. Katherine asks Capucius to deliver a message asking the king to give their daughter, Mary, a proper upbringing with every advantage and to look kindly on the women and men who served Katherine. 

Archbishop Cranmer (named Godfather to Elizabeth by Henry), the rubber stamp who annulled Henry’s marriage to Katherine, proves unpopular with the nobles, and only the king’s intervention prevents him from imprisonment in the Tower of London. At the christening of Henry and Anne’s child, Elizabeth, Cranmer predicts a glorious future for the child and England.

By Michael J. Cummings. Edited for our production by Laura Cole and Tony Brown

Show Information


Henry VIII: Act One 80/Act Two 70 Anne: Act One 85/Act Two 45

Show Roles

Henry VIII:
October 2, 10, 16, 22, 24, 2010
Henry VIII – Troy Willis*
Anne Boleyn – Mary Russell
Katherine of Aragon – Laura Cole
Wolsey – J. Tony Brown*
Cardinal Campeius – Drew Reeves*
Capucius- Jeffrey Stephenson
Cranmer– Maurice Ralston*
Duke of Norfolk – Doug Kaye*
Duke of Buckingham – Maurice Ralston*
Duke of Suffolk – Clarke Weigle
Earl of Surrey – Matt Nitchie
Lord Chamberlain – John Curran
Lord Chancellor – Drew Reeves*
Gardiner – Daniel Parvis
Lord Abergavenny - Jeffrey Stephenson
Lord Sands - Daniel Parvis
Sir Thomas Lovell - Nicholas Faircloth
Sir Henry Guilford – Jeffrey Stephenson
Cromwell, in Wolsey’s service – Jonathan Horne
Griffith, gentleman-usher to the Queen Katherine – Drew Reeves*
Patience, Queen Katherine’s woman – Rivka Levin*
An old lady friend to Anne Boleyn – Jane Bass
Three gentlemen – Matt Nitchie, Jeffrey Stephenson, Nicholas Faircloth
Doctor Buts, physician to the King – Jeffrey Stephenson
Surveyor to the Duke of Buckingham – Matt Nitchie
Brandon – Drew Reeves*
Keeper/Porter- J. Tony Brown*
Porter’s Man – Nicholas Faircloth
Prologue/Epilogue Daniel Parvis
Musicians Clarke Weigle, Rivka Levin, Ensemble
Ladies: Rivka Levin*, Rachel Frawley
Party Guests, Guards, Secretaries, Messengers, Servants: Ensemble

September 30 & October 3, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 17, 21, 23
Henry VIII – Troy Willis*
Anne Boleyn – Mary Russell
Wolsey – J. Tony Brown*
Thomas Boleyn, John Houghton – Maurice Ralston*
Elizabeth Boleyn – Erin Considine
Norris – Nick Faircloth
Smeaton, Bishop Fisher – Daniel Parvis
Norfolk – Doug Kaye*
Cromwell – Andrew Houchins*
Thomas More – Matt Nitchie
Lord Percy, Earl of Northumberland – Matt Nitchie
Mary Boleyn – Rachel Frawley
Jane Seymore – Dani Herd
Bishop Fisher – Daniel Parvis
Madge Shelton – Rivka Levin*
Choir Boys – Kieron Cotter, Tommy Thomas

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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Additional Information