Shakespeare’s Histories by John D. Huston
August 11, 13, 17 – 20 at Venue #13: Old Strathcona Library
An interview with John D. Huston.
Describe your show in five words.
Treachery, assassination, heroics – in verse.
Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?
A rapid-fire, mash-up of Shakespeare’s 10 History Plays. This smart, dramatic, cheeky romp crams 29 hours of theatre into 60 breath-taking minutes filled with ebullient energy and mischievous wit.
Wow – what inspired you to take on 10 of Shakespeare’s plays in one show?
As an actor it’s a huge thrill to tackle a project this big, 24 characters, 30 hours of theatre, and present its essence in under 60 minutes. Then the writing is, even for obscure Shakespeare, very rich, darkly funny, unexpectedly tender, with 10 plays to go through I get to act some pretty choice speeches.
What drew you tackle Shakespeare’s histories in particular?
They are Shakespeare’s only mini-series. These plays anticipated and inspired Game of Thrones and House of Cards. Shakespeare created these incredible characters, saints, monsters, heroes, drunkards and villainesses, by taking 500 years of his country’s history and rewriting it as pop culture. I get to tell these great stories AND play some really dynamic, passionate characters, Richard III, Henry V, Joan of Arc, who all want to be on top – regardless of who they have to step over or run through. It’s like getting to be Hillary, Bernie and The Donald all in the same evening.
You describe Shakespeare’s Histories as being ‘a hoot’ – what makes this show so funny?
Part of the fun of the show is keeping up with the twists and turns of plot that Shakespeare throws out. Ten plays covering major and minor wars, rebellions, incest, seduction, murder, witchcraft, doesn’t give me or the audience much breathing space. I ask an audience member to time the show each night: to make sure I’m on schedule to finish in an hour. Then, some of the characters themselves are so outrageous, so shockingly ego driven you have to laugh. Tim Mooney, the actor who wrote the commentary bits that take you through the story lines keeps it clever and sharp too. It’s like a TED talk on steroids.
Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?
It’s Shakespeare, so, of course, there’s a fart joke.
The 35th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 11 – 21. Tickets go on sale August 3 at noon and will be available at tickets.fringetheatre.ca.