398 years after his death, William Shakespeare is still inspiring generations beyond imagination. From paintings to tattoos, his wise words can be found almost everywhere. A long-time lover of Shakespeare’s work, Ildiko Susany was destined to land a role in Damien Ryan’s rendition of Henry V. While some people may completely shut down at the mere mention of Shakespeare, there are reasons why plays are still using his words hundreds of years later.
“I love that it’s very dynamic. Shakespeare was really one of the first writers of his era to tap into that human condition and be able to tell a complex story that might not necessarily have a strong moral,” Ildiko says. “He’d really leave it up to the audience to decide what was right or wrong and the purpose of the show. I think that’s probably why he stands the test of time.”
Having Shakespeare’s writing as a starting point gives any play strong foundations long before they make their changes. In Henry V, what Ryan has built on top of this creates a highly original piece that will appeal to audiences young and old.
“Damien Ryan, our director, has put it in a really fascinating context. The concept is based on a true story in the World War II setting where these children are having to hide out during the blitz. In the true story, these kids were hiding out in a bunker and they put on plays to get them through the night and to not be scared,” she says.
“So I think having those two worlds bleed make it interesting. And also the areas where you almost can’t tell if it’s the students in the classroom, or whether it’s the actual characters of Henry V that are playing in that play and in that context.”
Ildiko may be fresh in the company but she can still appreciate a truly great play. She has even dabbled in a bit of writing herself, so she is able to examine a play from both sides of its creation.
Each element of the play has been carefully considered to ensure that the audience can get the best experience from seeing it. The performers make all scene changes right in front of the audience, so there’s no awkward waiting as black silhouettes creep on stage. The language has been carefully thought out, and though the play stays true to Shakespeare’s language, it isn’t afraid to mix things up a bit.
“At the same time we’re not going, ‘This is poetry and we can’t mess with it’. We think we’re able to be coy with how we tell the story and I think that will be very accessible to the audiences,” Ildiko says.
It’s this writing style and the overall plotline that will have audience members feeling the love for the poetic play master.
“I think doing it in the context of these students being put in the play and having to work with what they’ve got in the room to create this magic of theatre, that’s what really makes it accessible. It makes you think anyone can be involved in Shakespeare and find a love for it. You don’t have to feel alienated from it,” she says.
When&Where: Her Majesty’s Theatre, Ballarat – August 12 & 13 and The Capital, Bendigo – August 19
Written by Amanda Sherring