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Jim Poulos as King Henry VI in Henry VI Part One, 2018.

Jim Poulos as King Henry VI in Henry VI Part One, 2018.

By Kathryn Neves

For the first time in the history of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, audiences will get to experience not only a sweeping epic of warfare and intrigue, but can view two shows for the price of one: all a part of this season’s production of The Conclusion of Henry VI: Parts Two and Three.

The last two parts of Shakespeare’s timeless Henry VI will be produced together this season, performed one after another in a two-in-one viewing. Each part will run for around two hours, with a thirty-minute intermission between them. And the best part? You can see both shows for only one ticket.

“I was intrigued with the idea that Festival audiences would have the opportunity to see both parts played out in a single viewing, keeping the serial nature of the work more immediate and helping the viewer digest the arc of the story in a more profound way,” said Brian Vaughn, artistic director. “Most of our productions are trimmed or cut, even the comedies, and that includes this production. However, this is still both plays, still Shakespeare’s characters. Still Shakespeare’s plot.”

This production is the latest installment in the history cycle, the Festival’s plan to produce all ten of Shakespeare’s histories in chronological order. In addition, this will be the first time at the Festival that the plays will be performed as separate shows, rather than a combination into one play. (In 2000 the Festival produced all three of the Henry VI plays in one adapted version, The War of the Roses.) Guests participating in Complete the Canon will be able to check both plays off their list this year!

In addition, The Conclusion of Henry VI: Parts Two and Three will be performed in the Anes Studio Theatre. “Shakespeare works in all kinds of theatre facilities. One reason the Festival wanted to build a studio theatre was to enable us to do Shakespearean performances in a small theatre setting, said Frank Mack, executive producer. “The Anes Theatre will make for a very intimate performance style of these plays. . . . This kind of variety is one of the things that makes visiting the Festival so unique.”

“Like our recent Anes productions of Othello and Julius Caesar, by performing The Conclusion of Henry VI: Parts Two and Three in the studio, audiences will be thrust into the heart of the action, and the play can sweep over them in a way that is more visceral and immediate than the grand, outdoor Engelstad Theatre,” explained Vaughn. “The intimate nature of the theatre is in harmony with the intimate nature of the plays and puts the audience in the same room as the characters, allowing them to see, feel, and experience the play in a completely different way than they had imagined.”

Parts two and three of Henry VI are among the least performed of Shakespeare’s canon, so this season’s production of each of them will be a rare, exciting, and unique experience. “These plays are full of intrigue and fascinating history, but there is also a lot of warfare,” said Mack. Vaughn added that “audiences can expect a sweeping, engaging, thrilling production in an intimate setting, featuring amazing actors and engaging storytelling.”

The Conclusion of Henry VI Parts Two and Three will run from June 29 through August 31. For tickets and more information, call 1-800-PLAYTIX or visit www.bard.org.