King Henry VIII

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King Henry VIII is a play by by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)[1]

The original text

A play about the life of Henry VIII, a play said to have been a collaboration between the ageing Shakespeare and the young John Fletcher. First performed under the title All is True at the Globe in 1613 and published in the First Folio of 1623.

The noble and malevolent King Henry VIII is married to Queen Katherine of Aragon, a decent, honest and honourable woman. Henry, however, falls in love with the lovely Anne Boleyn and rebels against Rome's ban on divorce, determined to marry her. Cardinal Wolsey, the authoritative Lord Chancellor of England, tries to convince Rome to drop their opposition to the king's divorce from Katharine in order to marry his new love. Later, on his deathbed, Wolsey asks for forgiveness for his unholy activity. Henry, however, does as he pleases and divorces Katherine. He marries Anne Boleyn while Katherine is sent to Kimbolton Castle.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1870: In a joint effort by the Young Men's Institute and Club Dramatic Company, in association with the company of Benjamin Webster, a scene from Henry VIII was performed along with parts of acts 3 and 5 of Hamlet (Shakespeare) on 9 July. The event took place in the St Aloysius Hall, Cape Town and the performers included Benjamin Webster, T. Brazier, Mrs Brazier, Mr Devere and James Leffler, with Mr Yorke (as "Cardinal Wolsey") and Mr Davenport as guest performers.

1953: The City of Port Elizabeth presented the play in the Feather Market Hall from June, 1 - 6, 1953, in honour of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2. Approximately 240 actors and musicians took part in the production.

Main Cast: Prologue: Michael Wilson. King Henry VII: Ronald W Davis. Duke of Buckinham: Brocas Harris. Lord Abergavenmy: Louis Yudelman. Sergeant-at-arms: G Robertson. Sir Thomas Lovell: Tom Scotcher. Cardinal Wolsey: Johann Nell. Cromwell: Maurice Weightman. Duke of Suffolk: Gavin Blackburn. Lord Sands: Eric White. Sir Henry Guildford: C Watling. Lord Chamberlain: Jack Fisher. Queen Katharine of Arragon: Peggy English. Patience: Jill Henley. Duchess of Norfolk: Dorothy Davies. Griffith: John Dunn. Surveyor to the Duke of Buckingham: Douglas Catt. First Old Lady: Phyllis Taylor. Anne Bullen: Christine Hamilton-Cox. Second Old Lady: Dorothy McClelland. Earl of Surrey: Anthony Booth-Jones. First Gentleman: Frank Townsend. Second Gentleman: Harold Davidson. Third Gentleman: Noel Annear. Cardinal Campeius: John Rebham. Gardiner, (later Archbishop of Canterbury): Leceister Walton. Garter King-At-Arms: Ray Spring. First Secretary: John de Lange. Spanish Ambassador Capucius: Christos Christodoulou. Sir Anthony Denny: Wynton Ferreira. Lord Chancellor: C Fuller Petersen. Dr Butts: Eric White. Porter: P D Armstrong. Archbishop Cranmer: John Hamber. Lady-in-Waiting: Joyce Scotcher.

Participating Organisations: In a show of mass patriotism the following organisations participated in the production: Company of Four, Madrigal Singers, Port Elizabeth Ballet Club, Port Elizabeth Caledonian Men's Pipe Band, Port Elizabeth Catholic Amateur Dramatic Society, Port Elizabeth Gilbert and Sullivan Society, Port Elizabeth Ladies Choir, Port Elizabeth Ladies' Pipe Band, Port Elizabeth Male Voice Choir, Port Elizabeth Musical and Dramatic Society, Port Elizabeth Orchestral Society, Oratorio Festival Choir, Salvation Army, St Mary's Church Choir, and the Tasker Art Group. Backstage: Production: Will Jamieson. Musical Director: Robert Selley. Pageant Mistress: Doreen Egan. Decor: Herbert McWilliams executed under the direction of H McWilliams, Chris Murray, A Gardham. Costumes were designed by Maurice Weightman and sewn under the direction of Marie Oosthuizen and Barbara Hopkins. Headdresses by: Elise Barker. Lighting: H Alyn Lane. Stage Direction: Robert Parker, assisted by C Darling, A Nives, J Adey. Dances arranged by the P E Ballet Club. Photography by Middlebrooke Studio. Producer's Secretary: Molly Fuller Petersen. Prompt: Phyllis Davidson. Programme Cover Illustration: Maurice Weightman with special lettering by R H Harmer.


King Henry VIII theatre programme - 1953.

D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p.253

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