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A Company of Passion

Coming Summer 2015: The Life and Death of King John

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The Life and Death of KING JOHN

at PRIEST POINT PARK.

Thursdays through Sundays, Aug 6th through 23rd – all shows at 6:30pm

Admission is FREE

Donations are gratefully accepted … and sharp looking t-shirts will be available!

Little-known and rarely produced in modern times, King John takes place a little more than a century after the Norman Conquest of 1066.  The laws of regal succession were not yet established, leading to bloody contention for the crown.

The reign of King John is fraught with legend, myth, and history.  John, the youngest son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine (ever see The Lion In Winter with Katherine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole?) was born on Christmas Eve, 1166 – one hundred years after the Battle of Hastings.  When his eldest brother Richard the Lionheart departs to fight in the Crusades, John serves as protector of the realm, becoming “The Evil Prince John” (Boo! Hiss!) prominent in the legends of Robin Hood.  When Richard dies while on the journey back to England, John assumes the throne. John’s other three brothers had already died, leaving John the sole surviving male heir.  But his older brother Geoffrey had a son, Arthur (not that Arthur), who lays claim to the throne as the rightful heir of Geoffrey.  Here our play begins.

The contenders to the throne are supported by the armies of England for John and France for Arthur (France being nominally under English dominion at that time). The fickle winds of politics and public opinion buffet usurpers and pretenders to the throne alike, amid a tug-of-war between France, England, the Papacy, and the nascent stirrings of English democracy among the nobles of John’s court.  The revolt of John’s lords and counsellors, touched upon in the play, resulted in the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 during the reign of King John.

The play explores the interplay of morality, political power, religious duty, military might, filial loyalty, and the vicissitudes of public opinion. And if that doesn’t grab you, there are battles, near-torture, excommunication, a coronation, dramatic death scenes, and some seriously snarky cat fights as only Eleanor can deliver! And a bastard! Or should we say “The Bastard”!