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Henry IV opens June 22!

Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre’s 12th season production of Henry IV, Part One will open June 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Reynolds Performance Hall on the University of Central Arkansas campus.

Rebekah Scallet, AST’s producing artistic director, said she was “excited for our audiences to see this wonderful story, full of laughter, swordplay, and a timeless story of fathers and sons.”

Robert Quinlan, who directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream in AST’s 10th anniversary season, will return at the helm of Henry IV, Part One.

This adventurous tale is centered on the young Prince Hal, who prefers spending his time in the tavern, with his fat and jolly friend Falstaff, to time in castle with his father the king. But when rebellion stirs in England, he must make a choice to where his true loyalties lie.

“I love this play because it is looks at the complicated nature of leadership,” Quinlan said. “At the beginning of the play, Prince Hal does not appear capable of effectively leading a nation. He spends his time with a ragtag bunch of party animals who drink aggressively and push the limits of decent behavior, ring-led by the corpulent Jack Falstaff.

“However, it is the tavern, not the throne room, where Hal learns to understand the people he will come to rule. Eventually, his ability to reflect on his personal failings lead him to empathize with his father’s struggle. And for Hal, empathy will be the key to his greatness.”

AST newcomer Thom Miller will star as Henry IV, and returning company member Samuel Babick will be featured as Hal, with Dan Matisa, AST veteran and artistic collective member, returning to play Falstaff, the same part he played in AST’s 2010 production of Henry V.

“In the world of Shakespeare, the role of Falstaff is just as iconic (to us theatre folk anyway) as the roles of Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, Romeo, or Juliet,” Matisa said. “It’s one of the most complex personalities Shakespeare ever created, and I’m privileged to get a rare crack at him, and one thing is certain: he’s going to be one of the most challenging roles that I’ve ever played. Just playing his age difference (likely more than a decade older), his weight (Falstaff is a corpulent man) and his distinctly Falstaffian point-of-view (he’s hysterically witty and ironic) will all be great challenges.”

Henry IV, Part I will be presented in an intimate, on-stage setting that allows the audience immediate engagement with both the actors and action. Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. June 22, 23, 26, 29 and July 5 with 2 p.m. performances June 30 and July 8. Buy tickets to all performances here.

There is no reserved seating for any performance in Reynolds. Those requiring special accommodations such as wheelchair seating are encouraged to contact AST at or 501-852-0702 to make advance arrangements.

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