Quinn Mander and the Complexities of Being Henry
BY ASHLEY KURTZ
Playing the main role in a show is already tough, but Quinn Mander has the challenge of starring in two shows as a single character: Henry in Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” and “Henry V.” Mander develops the character through two shows as he matures from a slightly rebellious young prince to a king trying to do the best he can for his people.
Combining both part one and part two of “Henry IV” into one play, while also putting on “Henry V” provides Mander, and the rest of the cast, with the opportunity to allow the audience to see a complete character and country transform, while also seeing the consequences of the choices Henry makes.
Can you summarize the two shows a bit?
This is really the story of a young man growing up and having to assume all the responsibility and duty of being a king, what that really means to him, and what does it mean to be an honorable king, to be a good king? And how much of that does he take from the example of his father, Henry IV; who was a very particular type of king?
Assuming the role of kingship the question for Henry is duty. It’s not about him, it’s about the seat of England. It’s about the crown, the station of the crown and the service that it’s owed.
Can you tell me what your biggest challenge is?
There’s a lot of lines. Well, it can be challenging to go back and forth because a lot of times I have to remember what play I’m in. But it’s also remembering where in the arc I’m in is more important, it’s not even lines, but where in the growth of the character am I? And how do I get in touch with that organically when I walk into rehearsal?
What’s the most enjoyable part of this role?
Everyone is so passionately dedicated to this project no matter the size of their role. It’s wonderful. It’s been a true blessing to be part of this project. There’s a lot of cross-gender casting. Some of the characters are actually changed to women; like the Duke of York is a woman playing a woman. In Pistol’s case, who is played by Augusta Allen-Jones, Pistol is still a man, she’s playing him as a male. So, there are both cases where you’ve got women playing male roles as women, and women playing male roles as men.
Ashley Kurtz is a freelance theater critic.