Learning Lines

Thoughts on Henry IV, Part I

June 30, 2014

Henry IV schools screeningLast week's schools' broadcast of Henry IV Part I was watched by thousands of students up and down the country. Below we hear from two more students, Sheikh and Igla, at Eastbury Comprehensive School in Essex, on what the experience was like for them:

Sheikh, aged 13:

The production of Henry IV was a recreation of Shakespeare's play and although the original was slightly adjusted the meaning and understanding was not at all lost. The play enlists humour successfully and I laughed again and again throughout the performance.

My classmates and I think that in Shakespeare's time period their ability to comprehend his work was greater as plays were a more popular medium of entertainment.

My initial impression on how the play would be performed was very dull and I thought that it would not connect with the 21st century. However, it proved to be more than adequate - despite the limited knowledge that we had, we really enjoyed watching the performance.

The characteristics of the actors were exposed in soliloquies and monologues. In these speeches were lines which would be very funny to William Shakespeare, but these are meaningless to a modern audience.

Not being a man of the 16th century, I favoured the less sophisticated fight scene. The main reason I liked this was because this was where the restriction of violence was lifted. The performance had a huge incline in terms of pace and it also creates suspense during and after the scene. The audience gets to anticipate Hotspur's and Prince Henry's actions as well as think about the aftermath. The character Falstaff was a common favourite throughout the audience as he was not as sophisticated and easy to understand.

Igla, aged 12:

I was expecting Henry IV to be a little tedious as I didn't know exactly what it was going to be about. However, as soon as we got into the play my mind changed. It was not what I expected, I was captivated and wanted to know more as it left me interested.

I got to know more about what the play was about when the actor who played Prince Hal was interviewed. This helped my understanding of the play as I got to know what the actors' point of view was and how he felt acting the part.

There were parts of the film which I found amusing especially the parts when Falstaff was playing dead. I particularly found Falstaff humorous as he quite often made jokes as he was drunk.

Another part I found surprising was when Hotspur was killed, I found this surprising because it was unexpected. Hotspur was very prepared for the battle and was sure he was going to win therefore it was a shock when he died. I found it very engaging towards the end during the battle.

Overall, Henry IV was a very striking and fascinating performance and I really enjoyed watching the live broadcast.

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