'More' please - a classic comes to life at the Rondo Theatre
Nowadays you donít have to be a history buff to know all about King Henry VIII.
The monarch, who apart from marrying six times and being a great lobber off of heads, was famous for creating his own church, and establishing himself as its leader, after separating from the Catholic Church.
His efforts to sire a son are also legendary to consolidate the Tudor dynasty.
There are many movies and TV programs of this period in British history including The Tudors, The Other Boleyn Girl, from Philippa Gregory’s books about the English court, and A Man for All Seasons (1966) starring Paul Scofield, Robert Shaw, and Orson Welles, which won six Oscars.
This last was based on a play by Robert Bolt and Cairns Little Theatre is rapidly preparing for its production.
“It’s a brilliant play,” director John Hughes says. “It is one of the best written plays and it is based on an interesting time in British history, the Tudor period.”
The play’s protagonist is Sir Thomas More, who was the king’s councillor.
He refused to recognise the king as the supreme head of the Church of England and became a reformation martyr, and was imprisoned and beheaded.
More also coined the phrase Utopia, writing a novel by the same name about an imaginary ideal island country. In the play, More insists that whatever the rights or wrongs of his thoughts, they are his and his alone.
John Hughes says one of the main challenges of the production is the costumes; it has a cast of 14 and most of the actors have two or three changes, and of course they are costumes of the period.
There are several highlights in the play, a scene between Thomas More and Henry VIII, another between Cardinal Wolsley and More, and the final courtroom scene.
“What’s great about what the playwright has written is that it’s modern English, but sounds like old English,” John says.
He is delighted with his cast, with Thomas More played by Ralph Cotterill, whom he says has been on stage for 50 years and has worked with Sydney Theatre Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Peter Merill, a drama teacher at St Mary’s and actor.
For Peter Merrill it is a dream role but it doesn’t stand alone among his portrayals of great characters, as he has also played Aristotle and Nostradamus.
“It is a terrific role with lots of interesting tones and energy,” Peter says.
Peter researched for the role and naturally didn’t find it hard to find references to King Henry VIII everywhere he looked.
“You read something about his story and you can feel it in your head,” he says. “The play is so well written.
“You have to find empathy with the character and develop a strong connection to the writing. It is a very interesting role.”
A Man for All Seasons is at Cairns Little Theatre from September 7-15 at 8pm nightly. For bookings, phone Ticketlink on 1300 855 835 or visit www.ticketlink.com.au
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