ABOUT THE PLAY
By William Shakespeare
Adapted by Brad Fraser
Conceived by Jillian Keiley
Directed by Jillian Keiley
Choreographed by Cameron Carver
House Program for Richard II - coming soon
Grade Recommendation Grade 11+
Please see the show page for a detailed audience advisory.
Richard II is the first of Shakespeare's epic four-play history cycle chronicling the violent clashes between the Houses of Lancaster and York, which culminated in the Wars of the Roses. The play is a tutorial in real politic, moral corruption and human fallibility as Richard unleashes chaos upon his sceptered isle.
Richard II, as imagined by Shakespeare, is a man caught between ages. England and Europe were in flux. The continent had been torn apart by wars of territorial rights and royal succession, while the Black Death, which wiped out at least a quarter of the population, caused a labour shortage that emboldened the artisan class. Peasant revolts challenged the centuries-old compact between the peasants and the nobility. Richard's absolute belief in the Divine Right of Kings grates against a new generation of nobles less beholden to the Medieval era's rigid political, religious and cultural norms. When he exiles his cousin Henry Bolingbroke-later Henry II-then seizes Bolingbroke's inheritance, Richard's naked power grab and inept leadership divides the loyalties of the aristocracy. Henry soon gathers an army to launch an invasion of England and seize the throne, threatening Richard's dynasty.
Shakespeare wrote Richard II at a time of great political anxiety. Queen Elizabeth's health was failing, and with no direct heir to the throne, the largely stable Tudor reign was about to end. Looking back in history to earlier era of unrest helped Shakespeare to clarify the tensions of his own times. In Canadian playwright and screenwriter Brad Fraser's bold adaptation, historical parallels are teased out between Richard's short reign and the glamour, grit and glitter of New York City in the late 1970s and early 80s. No matter what age we live in, Shakespeare reminds us, the personal and political consequences of resisting necessary change can be catastrophic.
- Global Competencies:
- Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Metacognition, Self-Awareness
- Grade 10-12
- The Arts (Dance, Drama, Music, Visual Arts)
- Canadian and World Studies
- Grade 11-12
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Appearances and Performance
- Authority, Power and Responsibility
- Abandonment, Banishment and Exile
- Change and Rebellion
- The Crown
- Patriotism, Duty and Loyalty