het Theater Festival



Kings of War

Toneelgroep Amsterdam

Kings of War combines Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III into a single, explosive play about leadership.

Shakespeare’s kings are political leaders who come face to face with the ultimate responsibility: they must make the life-or-death decision of whether to go to war. Shakespeare draws us into the psychology of the rulers, while also revealing the machinations of their courtiers and advisors. Kings of War lays bare the mechanisms of decision-making in times of political crisis, exposing the dichotomy between national interests and self-importance.

Henry V (Ramsey Nasr), at first a young and inexperienced monarch, quickly reveals himself to be a rational, moral leader who is willing to place his country’s interests above his own. He marries a French princess in order to secure peace. We nevertheless witness the chaos which befalls England as various pretenders to the throne attempt to seize power.

Henry VI (Eelco Smits) fails to reconcile the warring factions and knows that the French are poised to invade. Shakespeare portrays Henry VI as a ineffectual ruler who is excluded from the centre of power as his country crumbles around him. His rank leads only to isolation.

Richard III (Hans Kesting) is depicted as the embodiment of evil; a king with absolutely no regard for the national interests. In fact, he deliberately destroys the fragile peace which follows the Wars of the Roses. Richard is egocentric: as a leader, he lacks all empathy and seeks only ultimate power for himself. He regards himself as ‘God’s equal’, his only desire to rule over life and death. England is merely the backdrop.

from William Shakespeare | direction Ivo van Hove | with Hélène Devos, Fred Goessens, Janni Goslinga, Aus Greidanus jr., Marieke Heebink, Robert de Hoog, Hans Kesting, Hugo Koolschijn, Ramsey Nasr, Chris Nietvelt, Alwin Pulinckx, Harm Duco Schut, Bart Slegers, Eelco Smits | translation Rob Klinkenberg | adaptation Bart van den Eynde, Peter van Kraaij | dramaturgy Peter van Kraaij | scenography & light design Jan Versweyveld |composition Eric Sleichim | musici Steve Dugardin (contratenor), bl!ndman [brass]: Max van den Brand, Konstantin Koev, Charlotte van Passen, Alain Pire, Daniel Quiles Cascant, Daniel Duibal Ortigueira | costume An d’Huys | video Tal Yarden | co-commissioners Barbican (Londen), Théâtre National de Chaillot (Parijs), Wiener Festwochen | coproduction bl!ndman, Holland Festival, Muziektheater Transparant | thanks to Rabobank Amsterdam | private producer Harry and Marijke van den Bergh