Theatre News

Casts for the RSC's Henry VI: Rebellion and War of the Roses announced

The two-part series opens in April

The cast and creative team of Henry VI: Rebellion and Wars of the Roses,
The cast and creative team of Henry VI: Rebellion and Wars of the Roses,
© RSC, photo by Manuel Harlan

Casting has been unveiled for the RSC's upcoming staging of the three Henry VI plays – broken into two parts – Henry VI: Rebellion and Wars of the Roses.

Mark Quartley (The Tempest) and Mariah Gale (Wendy and Peter Pan) will return to the Stratford venue to play the titular king and Margaret in both parts of the series – which runs across dates from 1 April to 4 June.

Henry VI: Rebellion

Beyond this pair, Henry VI: Rebellion has a cast of Oliver Alvin-Wilson (York), Lucy Benjamin (Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester), Richard Cant (Gloucester/Lord Saye), Daniel J Carver (Clifford/Horner), Angelina Chudi (Hume), Paola Dionisotti (Winchester/Humphrey), Felixe Forde (Bevis), Mariah Gale (Margaret), Ashley D Gayle (Smith), Conor Glean (Dick), Ben Hall (Suffolk), Jack Humphrey (Clerk), Nicholas Karimi
(Warwick), Al Maxwell (Bolingbroke/ Holland), Georgia-Mae Myers (Margaret Jourdain), Peter Moreton (Salisbury), Sophia Papadopoulos (Suffolk's Messenger), Mark Quartley (Henry VI), Aaron Sidwell (Jack Cade), Yasmin Taheri (Neighbour), John Tate (Captain/Stafford), Ibraheem Toure (Whitmore), Emma Tracey (Spirit), Daniel Ward (Buckingham) and Benjamin Westerby (Somerset).

Forde, Humprhey, Maxwell, Myers, Papadopoulos, Tate, Toure, Tracey and Westerby are all making their RSC debuts after graduating in 2020/2021.

On top of the professional cast, 74 adults from locations that partner with the RSC (Blackpool, Bradford, Canterbury, Cornwall, Norwich and Nottingham), will appear in the piece as working people who take part in the rebellion against Henry VI. A further 21 young people (aged 13 to 17) from the RSC's associate schools, split into three groups, will appear in the play.

Owen Horsley and Gregory Doran will direct the production (after staging a rehearsed version of it last year) – we've listed the 95 names of those involved below.

War of the Roses

Arthur Hughes at the opening of Saint Joan at the Donmar Warehouse
Arthur Hughes at the opening of Saint Joan at the Donmar Warehouse
© Dan Wooller

The second part of the series sees the ascension of the Duke of Gloucester, later the villainous Richard III. Arthur Hughes (The Innocents) will take on the role in the piece.

The complete cast for War of the Roses is therefore Oliver Alvin-Wilson (York), Lucy Benjamin (2nd Keeper/ Tutor), Richard Cant (Lieutenant/ King Lewis), Daniel J Carver (Clifford), Angelina Chudi (Lady
Bona), Paola Dionisotti (Exeter), Felixe Forde (Richmond) Mariah Gale (Margaret), Ashley D Gayle (Edward), Conor Glean (Young Clifford), Ben Hall (George Clarence), Arthur Hughes (Richard, Duke of Gloucester), Jack Humphrey (Rivers), Nicholas Karimi (Warwick), Al Maxwell (Vernon), Peter Moreton (Salisbury/Father), Georgia-Mae Myers (French Messenger), Sophia Papadopoulos (Prince Edward), Mark Quartley (Henry VI), Aaron Sidwell (The Son), Yasmin Taheri (Elizabeth), John Tate (Hastings), Ibraheem Toure (Mob Leader), Emma Tracey (Rutland), Daniel Ward (Buckingham) and Benjamin Westerby (Somerset).

Horsley, director, said: "Out of the 37 plays in the canon Henry VI Part Two – or as we are calling it, Henry VI: Rebellion – has more characters than any other play. There are 85 characters on the cast list, which may explain why these plays are rarely done. One of the reasons for this wide array of characters is a series of scenes that Shakespeare writes concerning the people of England, who in various ways interact with the royal family.

"This gave us an idea! For many years the RSC has built incredible relationships across the UK with partner theatres through Shakespeare Nation and our youth programme, Next Generation Act. After 18 months of developing these links online this production seemed the perfect opportunity to be ambitious. So, for the people of England, we have cast the people of England. This is an extremely exciting project as it allows this history play, written over 400 years ago, to respond directly to the state of the nation – and at points put over 50 people on the RSC stage.

"Another drive that is very close to the heart of the RSC is the training of young actors as they enter the industry. Over the last two years recent graduates have suffered immensely with classes and productions being taken online and/or they have entered an industry on pause. For these productions we met with over 100 graduates from across the country to
deliver workshops and fight training, and from this have cast nine graduates into our company of 26 for Henry VI: Rebellion and Wars of the Roses."

Both productions will feature set design by Stephen Brimson Lewis, with the creative team also featuring costume designer Hannah Clark. Lighting design is by Simon Spencer, RSC associate artist Paul Englishby returns to compose the music, with sound design by Steven Atkinson, movement by Emily Jane Boyle, and fights by Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown.

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Casts for Henry VI: Rebellion:

Blackpool, working with The Grand Theatre, Blackpool

Philip Avenell, Stephen Coughlan, Liz Curran, Stephen Foster, Seamus Graeme, Beccy Hands, Ross Hewitt, Mickey Horrocks, Roger Lloyd Jones, Wendy Stevenson, Martyn Woodcock and Jeananne Young.

Bradford working with The Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

Rachel Brewin, Angela Buffham-Wheeler, Bradley Cook-Pattison, Kelly Harris, Ben Hopwood, Georgina Jovanovic, Elizabeth Lancaster, Ron Norman, Anthony Priestley, Diana Reed, Qaraman Saidzada and Corin Ward.

Canterbury working with The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

Philip Baston, Debbie Christie, Caroline Clark, Sasha Douglas, Graeme Forbes, Matilda Jovanovic, Mary Onions, Wayne Rhodes, Chrissy Swain, Sarah Thurstan, Harrison Todd and Lynne Wright.

Cornwall working with Hall for Cornwall

Darcey Ball, Kate Barden, Simon Bennett, Adam Bowkett, Lily Burton, Tori Cannell, Lucie Dowling, Jonathan Groves, Guy Hanson, Emily Harrison, Kate Maciver-Redwood and Rosie Maciver-Redwood.

Norwich, working with Norwich Theatre

Saint Ananda, Ed Cairns, Georgia Dimopoulou, David Fung, Etta Geras, Olli Gillo, Gina Irving, Mark Markham, Julian Newton, Aamer Raza, Helen Simpson, Katie Smith, Helen Wells and Jaime Willimott.

Nottingham working with Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall Nottingham

Neil Brocklehurst, Julieanne Ford, Gavin Gordon, Anne Jennings, Yasmin Khan, Sally Maddison, Kathryn McAuley, John Merchant, Paul Robinson, Penny Shields, Diana Sule and Becky Valentine.

The company also features:

Aaliya (15, Birmingham), Bailey (13, Blackpool), Callum (16, Stoke on Trent), Dee (17, Launceston, Cornwall), Emerode (14, Bradford), Harli (16, Nottingham), Olly (16, Launceston, Cornwall), Oscar (15, Birmingham), Adam (14, Bradford), Lily (14, York), Jerminah (17, County Durham), Kay (17 Hull), Kingston (13, Barrow-in-Furness), Paige (16, Middlesbrough), Scout (17, Bradford), Abdul (16, London), Dorcas (17, Northampton), Halima (16, London), Holly (16, Northampton), Olivia (16, Canterbury) and Shefit (14, Northampton).