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Read Henry VI, Part 2
The previous play, Henry VI Part 1, dealt with the England’s struggles holding on to French territories won by Henry V. In Henry VI Part 2, those battles slip into the background as the English court descends into factional infighting and the streets of London erupt into outright rebellion. For the first time, Shakespeare expands his dramatic scope beyond foreign wars and dynastic bloodlines to show how court politics can destabilize the entire country and bring it to the edge of anarchy. The play opens with the Marquis of Suffolk returning from his mission to fetch Henry’s new-chosen queen, Margaret of Anjou, from France. The English nobles, especially the Duke of Gloucester, are incensed to learn that Suffolk has arranged the marriage on terms detrimental to England’s interests: Margaret brings no dowry and, in fact, England must yield two French territories to Margaret’s father. In the bickering that ensues, the court fractures along political and dynastic lines and several underhanded intrigues are set in motion. Suffolk, viewing Gloucester as a dangerous threat to his own advancement, frames Gloucester’s wife for witchcraft, then has Gloucester himself arrested on trumped-up charges. But when Gloucester dies under suspicious circumstances, King Henry banishes Suffolk despite the pleas of Margaret, who is Suffolk’s secret lover. En route to France, Suffolk is captured by pirates and beheaded. Margaret takes this outcome rather hard. Meanwhile Richard, Duke of York, quietly builds support within the court for his own (rather complicated) claim to the throne. When Richard is dispatched/exiled to Ireland to suppress an uprising, he has his confederate, Jack Cade, stir up commoners to depose Henry and support Richard’s claim. Amid tremendous chaos and bloodshed, the rebels march on London. The rebellion falls apart, however, when they encounter a large army loyal to Henry. Cade is forced to flee and is eventually killed foraging for food in a private garden. In the aftermath of Cade’s failed rebellion, Richard returns from Ireland at the head of a Yorkist army and declares war on Henry. The ensuing Battle of St. Albans marks the beginning of the Wars of the Roses, which will form the focus of Henry VI, Part 3. LOGISTICS We'll begin with assigning parts, then we'll read the first half of the play. After taking a break, we'll read the second half of the play, and afterwards we'll have a discussion. 1. Please try to become familiar with the play ahead of time, whether that means reading the play, watching a production on stage or on film, or reading a summary. 2. Try to bring a copy of the play as well, whether a paper book or an electronic version. If you can't find a copy, contact the host and we'll see if we can find an extra. 3. Don't forget to update your RSVP if you find that you won't be able to make it. We look forward to reading with you!

Seattle Public Library Northgate Branch

10548 5th Ave Northeasst · Seattle, WA


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What we're about

Public Group

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players
--As You Like It, Act II

We are Shakespeare lovers of varied backgrounds: actors and non-actors; teachers and baristas, retirees and programmers; people who read Shakespeare all the time and people who haven’t read him in many years. Some of us can do spot-on accents, some can sing, and some are very gifted performers; many of us just gamely read our lines as best we can, and with the best will in the world.

No acting experience is required; just a willingness to read aloud and appreciate Shakespeare’s language. Try it out—we're a friendly group! The beauty of the language, the insights into our human nature, the humor, compassion, anguish and scope of Shakespeare's work make it a treasure that we return to again and again, finding something new each time.

How to Get Started: RSVP to a particular meetup (and please keep your RSVP up to date; let us know if you can’t attend). Bring a copy of the play, if at all possible. To prepare, reading the play or watching a performance are ideal. Or you can read an introduction or a synopsis. Some of our readers practice at home, to get a feel for the language. Regardless of preparation, there will be some confusing lines, and we often have different editions; in that case, just wing it.

What to Expect from a Readthrough: We read the entire play; it takes most of the afternoon. We start by allocating roles. You can volunteer for a particular role that you want. There are usually twelve to twenty or more readers. The roles with the most lines are usually shared. We usually don't follow gender in determining who reads which role. However, at an event host’s discretion, there may be some occasions when gender is matched for a character. Weather permitting during July and August, we meet outside in Volunteer Park.

How This Meetup Group Is Run: The Seattle Shakespeare (Etc!) Readthrough meetup group has five organizers (Aidan, Paul, Kristin, Scott, and Harry). They take turns as “Event Hosts” for the read-throughs. The organizers select plays and library locations, and they update the website information.

How to Use This Web Site: Each meetup date has a place for posting comments about that meetup; these are usually appreciations, greetings, and tips on parking.

If you want to discuss a play or a performance in more depth, or if you want to discuss the group itself, click the “Discussions” menu near the top of the page, and then click “Message Board.”

If you want to find out more about a play (such as lists of characters and how many lines each has), click “More” near the top of the page and then click “Files.”

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