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Henry VIII

Plot Summary

The Duke of Norfolk tells Buckingham of the meeting between Henry VIII and Francis I of France at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. On the instigation of Cardinal Wolsey, Buckingham is arrested for high treason. The Queen interrupts the indictment of Buckingham to demand that the king rescind a tax imposed by Wolsey to finance the French war. At a party held by Wolsey, Henry meets Anne Bullen and falls in love with her. Buckingham is tried and executed. The Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk fail to turn the king against Wolsey. Henry, questioning the legality of his marriage to Katherine, sets up a tribunal, presided over by Wolsey and the papal representative Cardinal Campeius. Anne Bullen is made Marchioness of Pembroke. Katherine walks out of the tribunal, and demands that the case be decided in Rome. Wolsey and Campeius fail to convince the queen to throw herself on the king's mercy. Anne secretly marries Henry. A conspiracy by the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk to disgrace Wolsey is successful, and Wolsey falls. Cranmer is appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. Katherine is divorced, Anne is crowned queen. Katherine is told of Wolsey's death, and she herself dies. Anne gives birth to a girl, who will grow up to become Queen Elizabeth. Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, attempts to indict Cranmer for heresy. He fails through Henry's intervention. Elizabeth is christened and Cranmer predicts the glory of her reign.

RSC Staging History 1960-2007

1969 RST/1970 Aldwych: Trevor Nunn
John Bury (design); John Bradley (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)

Donald Sinden (Henry), Brewster Mason (Wolsey), Peggy Ashcroft (Katherine), Janet Key/Lisa Harrow (Anne), Jeffery Dench (Norfolk), John Forgeham/Michael Gambon (Surrey), Richard Pasco (Buckingham), Denis Holmes (Suffolk), Nicholas Selby (Lord Chamberlain), Anthony Pedley (Campeius), Emrys James (Cramner), Geoffrey Hutchings (Cromwell), Richard Mayes (Lovell), Bill Fraser/Derek Smith (Gardiner), Sydney Bromley (Griffith), Janet Whiteside (Patience), Roger Rees (Guildford), Morgan Sheppard (First Gentleman), Lisa Harrow (Lady), Don Henderson (Porter/Guard), Peter Geddis (Scribe)

1983 RST/1984 Barbican: Howard Davies, assisted by David Edgar
Hayden Griffin (sets), Deirdre Clancy (costumes); David Hersey (lighting); Ilona Sekacz (music)

Richard Griffiths (Henry), John Thaw/Stephen Moore (Wolsey), Gemma Jones (Katherine), Sarah Berger/Lesley Duff (Anne), Bruce Alexander (Norfolk), Nigel Cooke (Surrey), David Schofield (Buckingham), Martin Milman (Suffolk), Geoffrey Beevers (Lord Chamberlain), Campbell Morrison (Campeius), Henry Goodman (Cramner), Paul Greenwood (Cromwell), Richard Garnett (Lovell), Oliver Ford Davies (Gardiner), Caroline Harris (Old Lady), Clyde Pollitt (Griffith), Eileen Page (Patience)

1996-97 Swan/1998 Young Vic/1998 New York and Washington: Gregory Doran
Robert Jones (design); Howard Harrison (lighting); Jason Carr (music)

Paul Jesson (Henry), Ian Hogg (Wolsey), Jane Lapotaire (Katherine), Claire Marchionne (Anne), John Kane (Norfolk), Jo Stone-Fewings (Surrey), Paul Greenwood (Buckingham), David Beames (Suffolk), Guy Henry (Lord Chamberlain), Darrell D'Silva (Sands/Campeius), David Collings (Cramner), Robert Whitelock (Cromwell), Orlando Seale (Lovell), Paul Bentall (Gardiner), Cherry Morris (Old Lady), David Hobbs (Griffith), Eileen Battye (Patience)

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