Henry VI Part One: Open Rehearsal Project

We welcome you inside our full rehearsal process for a Shakespeare play for the first time, culminating in a final live online rehearsal room run through of the entire play.


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Cast and Creatives written on a red background


Meet the actors and creatives who will be taking us inside the rehearsal room.

group of people posed in a rehearsal room, spaced out 

From front row, left to right are Julia Wade (Stage Manager), Jamie "J" Ballard (Talbot), Bridgitta "Fali" Roy seated on floor (Warwick), Marty Cruickshank (Reignier), Cathleen McCarron (Text and Voice).

From second row are Mark Hadfield (Winchester), then seated on chair Michael Balogun (York), also seated Mariah "Minnie" Gale (Margaret), Lily Nichol (Joan La Pucelle), Klare Roger (Deputy Stage Manager).

Third row, seated on box is Peter Griffin (Production Manager), then Gregory Doran (Director), seated on throne Mark Quarterly (Henry VI), Owen Horsley (Director), Pip Horobin (Company Stage Manager).

Fourth row seated is James Cooney (Alencon), then Andrew Brooks (Video Production), Amanda Harris (Exeter), Chris Middleton (Gloucester), Ben Tyreman (Producer).

Fifth row standing is Briony Kirkman (Assistant Stage Manager), Mimi M Khayisa (Somerset), Liyah Summers (Bastard), Rachel Barber (Covid Marshall). Standing back left is Jamie Wilkes (Charles, the Dauphin).

See full biogs for the cast on our cast and creatives page.

Synopsis written on a red background 

The first play in the Henry VI trilogy, this tale of war and court rivalries is believed to have been written by Shakespeare in collaboration with another playwright.

Watch a synopsis of the play with BSL, voiceover and captions.

Following the death of his father, Henry V, the young Henry VI is proclaimed king but his uncles, the Dukes of Gloucester and Exeter, are the ones who hold power.

Meanwhile, war continues in France, with Joan la Pucelle, better known as Joan of Arc, leading the French army.


The king’s great-uncle, the Bishop of Winchester, believes that Gloucester wants to usurp power from Henry, causing a fight outside the Tower of London.

Richard Plantagenet also believes he has a claim to the throne and falls out with the Duke of Somerset. They ask each nobleman in the court to take either a red or white rose to show whose side they support: white for Richard of York, red for the Duke and house of Lancaster.


In France, Joan spares the life of the captured general Lord Talbot when they fight one-on-one. She wins back Orleans briefly, but Talbot’s sneak attack forces the French army to abandon the town.

Talbot is later killed when the French Dauphin’s army encircles his men at Bordeaux and the rivalry between York and Somerset prevents them sending troop reinforcements.


Fortunes turn against the French and Joan is captured. Henry is encouraged to seek peace through marriage, and Charles is persuaded by his noblemen to accept a treaty to save French lives while planning to break the agreement later on.


The Earl of Suffolk arranges the king’s marriage to a young French princess, Margaret of Anjou, while secretly hoping to gain power by taking her as his mistress. Although Gloucester and many other lords don’t think Margaret is worthy of the king, Henry agrees to marry her and make her Queen of England.

Ashcroft Room written on a red background with an image of the room behind it

Rehearsals for the Henry VI Part 1: Open Rehearsal Project are taking place in the Ashcroft Room.

RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran calls the Ashcroft Room "indisputably the most beautiful rehearsal room in the world."

The room, room with wooden floor, ceiling and walls sits immediately above the Swan Theatre, and so has exactly the same dimensions as the theatre auditorium. Running along one side of the room is a balcony that looks out across the river.

The Ashcroft Room

The Ashcroft Room was named after Dame Peggy Ashcroft, one of the first actors invited by Sir Peter Hall to join his long-term ensemble for the 1960 season. She appeared in many major productions, including Othello with John Gielgud and as the title role in The Duchess of Malfi. The room was named after her when then-Artistic Director Adrian Noble suggested that the space be named in her honour. Originally her collection of awards were stored in the Ashcroft Room, including her Oscar, but these were later moved to secure storage.

Don’t miss the final live rehearsal room run through of Henry VI Part One, on Wednesday 23 June at 7pm. Tickets cost £20.

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The RSC Acting Companies are generously supported by The Gatsby Charitable Foundation and The Kovner Foundation

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