RICHARD THE SECOND

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

THE CAST
(In order of speaking)

King Richard the Second

Patrick Birks

John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, uncle to the King  

Derek Williams

Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford, son to Gaunt   

Bernard Argent

Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk    

David Mingay

The Lord Marshal, Duke of Surrey

Robert Allen

The Duke of Aumerle, son to the Duke of York

Paul Goldfinch

First Herald

John Baker

Second Herald

Stephen Ridgway

Sir Henry Greene

Michael Colley

Sir John Bushy

Richard Price

Sir John Bagot

Dewi Jones

Edmund of Langley, Duke of York, uncle to the King

Steven Morant

Isabel, Queen to King Richard

Dirk Higgins

Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland.

Martin Wilson

Lord Ross 

David Booth

Lord Willoughby 

Peter Bradley

The Duke of York's Servingman

Peter Jepson

Harry Percy, son to the Earl of Northumberland

Philip Hall

Lord Berkeley  

Keith Crouch

A Welsh Captain

Richard Roxburgh

The Earl of Salisbury

Richard Gregory

The Bishop of Carlisle

Nicolas Jowett

Sir Stephen Scroope

Stephen Bailey

Lady attendant upon Queen Isabel

Lyn Jenkins

A Gardener

Ian Sarginson

His Man

Stephen Harston

Lord Fitzwater

Edward Blackburn

Sir Piers Exton

Robert Hollands

His Servant

Stephen Ridgway

A Groom of the Stable to King Richard

David Cook

The Keeper of the Prison at Pomfret

John Ramsden

Guards
Servants
Murderers

J. Baker, D. Beman, G. Clark, B. R. Edwards, R. Harrison, P. Jepson, S. Ridgway, J. R. Shutt, M. Wosskow

Produced by Mr. P. D. C. POINTS


KING EDWARD VII SCHOOL DRAMATIC SOCIETY
MARCH 29-30 AND APRIL 1-2 1963

The action of the play takes place in England and Wales.

NOTE

The Duke of Gloucester, uncle to King Richard, has been mysteriously murdered at Calais. The murder seems to have been carried out at Richard's secret instigation, by Thomas Mowbray. At this point the play begins.

THE INTERVAL

There will be one interval of 15 minutes when coffee will be served in the Dining Hall. The audience is asked to return to the Assembly Hall as soonas possible when the bell is rung. Tickets for coffee may be purchased from the Stewards before the beginning of the play.

The set was designed by S. A. Morant.

The music was composed by D. W. Williams and played by members of the School Orchestra.

The Producer and Cast acknowledge with grateful thanks the help given by members of the Staff In various ways, especially Messrs. Scobie, Rhodes, Surguy, Bray, Mace, Hemming, Bridgwater, Edwards and Hall and Mrs. B. H. Edwards and Mrs. P. D. C. Points, and by the many boys who have assisted with Costumes, Set Construction, Lighting, Painting and Stewarding.


KING EDWARD VII SCHOOL MAGAZINE May 1963

RICHARD THE SECOND

William Shakespeare

Produced by Mr. P. D. C. POINTS

RICHARD II was too clever for his opponents. He was an intellectual who took for granted the divine responsibilities of monarchy.  But he lacked practical wisdom.  His contemporaries knew him as the king who was afraid to go to the French Wars. Shakespeare was concerned to probe Richard's fatal weakness, and its effects. Writing for an audience geared to the autocracy of the Tudor despots, he had to demonstrate that human frailties could destroy even Christ-centred kingship.

In some ways, Shakespeare's Richard II is not the ideal school play. There is little of the violent action which can distract an audience from the inadequacies of a school production. This is not just another Elizabethan spectacular -it is a study in self-knowledge, which demands acute psychological insight from both producer and players.

Patrick Birks dispelled these apprehensions. His Richard was vain and petulant until the moment of self-knowledge outside Barkloughly Castle. Then, with sensitivity and intelligence, he managed to engage his audience's sympathies until the black tragedy of the murder made its full impact. Throughout, his verse speaking was faultless.  Only the occasional uncertainty of gesture marred an otherwise mature performance.

Others responded to this magnificent lead. Richard has to be set against the background of a restless nobility, exasperated to the point of open rebellion. As Bolingbroke, Bernard Argent gained strength after an unconvincing start. From the beginning, he had looked the part but his confidence developed and, in the last crucial scene, he played with considerable power. Northumberland was a sinister and impassive schemer. Martin Wilson assumed this role with fine deliberation and frightening conviction.

Patrick Birks as Richard centre stage in black in a scene with the ubiquitous Bernard Argent.
Brian Edwards on the right. Left rear view of Professor EV Blackburn (Chemistry),
Michael Wosskow on stage to the left. Peter Jepson centre stage at the back. (D B Cook)

Both Gaunt and York were surprisingly successful studies of the weakness of old age. Derek Williams had the most difficult speech in the play and, to his credit, there was no awkwardness.

David Mingay managed to make Mowbray more than a cardboard Feudal Noble. The Lord Marshall (David Allen) and the Bishop of Carlisle (Nicolas Jowett) acted with confidence and discretion.  Aumerle (Paul Goldfinch) should have been more decisive, and the Queen (Dirk Higgins) occasionally mangled her lines. But every member of the cast knew what he was doing and why he was doing it. This was the great merit of the production.

Alas! - few wore their costumes with complete ease. This embarrassment is a traditional feature of K.E.S. productions.  It becomes particularly obvious in such a static play as Richard II.  The audience only notices mistakes. To avoid these it is best to avoid unnecessary movements.  All too often, the fumbling  half-gesture  reveals  the  actor's uncertainty. Northumberland and Bolingbroke set the right example in this respect.

My only major criticism was that we needed more pageantry. If this deficiency was deliberate, I think it was mistaken. Both Shakespeare and the Richard II of history would have been fully conscious of the need for display and magnificence in theocratic kingship   Steven Morant's set offered more opportunities than were in fact taken. Perhaps the limitations of the School Hall make this inevitable and the criticism unjustified. But the audience might have been given more help in understanding the enormity of Richard's fall.

On the right - Patrick Birks; immediately behind seated person - Steven Morant - the designer of the set.
At the back John Shutt. Queen Isobel (Dirk Higgins) and "her" attendant Lyn Jenkins. (D B Cook)

This is to judge by high standards. I have never seen a school play in which so many of the actors seemed to grasp the full significance of their parts. With the abundance of good things, there is reason to expect excellence in every department. Thus, I should like to see next year's producer encourage all his actors to make the fullest use of their obvious gifts. Self-assurance is all that is lacking. Richard Roxburgh's minor triumph as the Welsh captain proves that there is no call for any assumption that quality is the prerogative of the few.

These observations are the highest tribute I can pay to those who made this production possible, and, in particular, to Mr. Points. In every aspect, the professional feeling for style and timing was such that any lapses from grace were more than usually apparent. Most of the basic lessons have been thoroughly learnt. The many excellences suggest that next year's play could be even more exciting.

Roger Laughton

Patrick Birks as Richard and Dirk Higgins as Queen Isabel (The Sheffield Telegraph)

More Photos (courtesy of David Cook)

The Set

Stephen Ridgway, Raymond Pilley, Paul Goldfinch, ?, Michael Colley, Patrick Birks, Richard Shutt, Dewi Jones

David Booth; make-up by Elizabeth Taylor

Richard Shutt and (I think) Stephen Ridgway - tiddleywinks in
the prefects' room. Paul Goldfinch in background

l to r Paul Goldfinch, Michael Colley, Patrick Birks, Richard Shutt, Bernard Argent.

l to r Dirk Higgins, David Mingay, Stephen Ridgway, ?, John Baker.

Stephen Ridgway, David Mingay, Bernard Argent

Brian Edwards (right) in the make-up room, Richard II, 1963 making up ?Stephen Ridgway.
His wife, centre background, pupil unknown.
Paul Goldfinch (The Duke of Aumerle) on the left – unknown make up artist.


Review of Shakespeare’s Richard II

The Sheffield Telegraph
2nd April, 1963

Schoolboys do justice to tragedy

“Richard II”
King Edward VII School

I went with doubts - this tragedy of a man who was not big enough for his task, and knew it, is music, a concerto of sorrow and regret. Could boys really do it justice? Two and three-quarter hours later, I left content – they could and, on the whole, they did.

One guesses that the producer, Mr. P.D.C. Points, is an English master. Verse-speaking, meaning, analysis of speeches, in these all too uncommon qualities the play excels. Its theatrical effects are less sure.

Lusty

Mr. Points’ staging is uneasily formal but never quite matches the razor-sharpness of the play. Nor does he use S.A.Morant’s excellent set of stairs and arches to full effect, and to bring Richard’s coffin through the audience is surely a gimmick?

The acting, to quote the play, is “lusty, young and cheerly drawing breath” but what the production never quite brings out through the smaller parts is the atmosphere of pageantry concealing great viciousness against which we see Richard. Bernard Argent makes a good, tough Bolingbroke, rising to his best in the abdication scene. Derek Williams makes a shrewd Gaunt, miraculously avoiding any hint of cliché in his “This England” speech. Steven Morant quavers overmuch as York but acts usefully. Martin Wilson is crisp and flinty as Northumberland.

As Richard Patrick Birks is superb, so good that perhaps one becomes too conscious of any other failings in the play. He is equal to his part and that is high praise. To start with, he is beautiful to listen to – I had never thought to hear the verse so tunefully from a boy. Lucidly and maturely, he explores Richard’s vacillations, weaknesses and final hopeless self-knowledge. And the result is deeply moving.

- JAB

More Photos (courtesy of Derek Williams)