Reimagining the dangerous sparring between King Henry VIII and Katherine Parr through a richly provocative contemporary lens, Ensemble Theatre presents Kate Hennig’s The Last Wife in an Australian premiere season from 30 August 2019.
Henry VIII was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547 but it seems Henry is best known for his six marriages. Known as one of Henry VIII’s wives, Katherine Parr created her own place in history. Having been married four times (Henry was her third husband), she became the most married queen of England.
Smart and confident, Katherine Parr became the restorer of Henry VIII’s court, uniting his children and making sure they were presented to the world as a close-knit family. She was instrumental in his legitimate children’s educations and passed legislation that made his previously illegitimate children, legitimate again.
In The Last Wife, her obligatory marriage is rife with the threat of danger and lure of deceit; Kate’s secret liaisons with Thom, her husband’s former brother-in-law; and devotion to the education and equal rights of Henry’s daughters could lead to her becoming another statistic on the infamous King’s growing list of dead wives.
Does Kate follow her heart and risk her life to stand for her convictions, or will she succumb to the might of Henry’s increasing paranoia?
“Canadian writer Kate Hennig has fiercely examined this period in history through a contemporary lens with wit and seduction as Henry’s last and most influential wife, Katherine Parr, navigates the waters of gender politics, patriarchy, sexuality and women’s rights,” said director Mark Kilmurry. This thrilling production comes to life with an outstanding and accomplished cast in this sexually driven and potent play.”
Kate Hennig is a Canadian actor, playwright, teacher and director. The Last Wife premiered at the Stratford Festival in 2015 and has had many productions across Canada and the United States, before making its Australian premiere. The Virgin Trial premiered at Stratford, won the Carol Bolt Award for Best New Play 2017, and was short-listed for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama.
Her play Mother’s Daughter premiered at the Stratford Festival in June 2019 and is now enjoying a sold out run. Kate’s translation and adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac is now playing at the Shaw Festival. Kate is the Associate Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival. She will be directing Holiday Inn for the Shaw winter season in 2019.
Director: Mark Kilmurry Featuring: Emma Chelsey, Emma Harvie, Simon London, Nikki Shiels, Bishanyia Vincent, Ben Wood Assistant Director: Adam Deusien Set and Costume Designer: Simone Romaniuk Lighting Designer: Nick Higgins Stage Manager: Lauren Tulloh Costume Supervisor: Alana Canceri Make Up: Peggy Carter Foreign Language Consultant: Nick Curnow
The Last Wife
Ensemble Theatre, 78 McDougall Street, Kirribilli
Season: 30 August – 29 September 2019
Information and Bookings: www.ensemble.com.au
Image: Nikki Shiels stars as Kate in The Last Wife (supplied)