In the Summer of 2015 I went to Kilkenny Castle with a friend to see the Druid Theatres abridged production of four of Shakespeare plays:Richard II, Henry IV parts one and two and Henry V. Because of my hearing I usually can’t understand theatre but as I don’t understand a lot of Shakespearian language anyway I was depending on previous knowledge and on the visual richness on the stage. As it happened it kept my attention for five out of the six hours when we started to get cold (it was outdoors) and the wine we had brought was running out-funny how that coincided with the boredom setting in. It was interesting to see the four plays together, to see the rise and fall of kings, the cycle of power, the ultimate end of ambition. It made a lot more sense that seeing just one play.
The other noteworthy thing about it was that the two Henrys were played by women. The acting was amazing not to mention the stamina that it took. Derbhle Crotty in particular, who won Best Actress in the Irish Times Theatre Awards this year, and Aisling O’Sullivan as Prince Hal was powerful too though less so as Henry V, though I think that is more to do with the play. Marty Rea as King Richard was great too. There wasn’t really a bum note. I read afterwards that the idea behind the casting was to change the game for actresses, open up more roles and I’m all for that. I think actors, both male and female, have the toughest lives of all creatives. As a visual artists I can go some way to creating work for myself. As an actor it is far harder unless you are a writer as well. And we need our actors.
Throughout the six hours I used to my sketch pad to focus my attention (which gets a bit giddy) a fact which I only remembered when I found the pad the other day. Even though I say so myself I like this kind of quick sketch. Even when they aren’t that accurate they often catch an energy in a way that you’re not aware of at the time. All the ones here are in pen and ink and I added the watercolour in afterwards.