Theater professor lauded for production of ‘Henry VIII’
University of South Carolina associate professor of theater Robert Richmond’s recent production of Shakespeare’s “Henry VIII” at the prestigious Folger Theatre in Washington, D.C., has been nominated for 10 Helen Hayes awards, including a nod for Richmond for outstanding director.
The Folger Theatre produced three plays in 2010, and Richmond’s production of the seldom-staged “Henry VIII” led the way with 10 nominations.
“The Folger Theatre was a perfect setting for such a jewel-box production,” Richmond said. “With its Elizabethan décor, the period setting beautifully highlights a world of domestic scandal and political intrigues. There was no better place than the Folger, as one of the great literary institutions in the world, for me to study, research and direct this great play.”
Richmond, originally from Hastings, England, studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. For New York City’s Aquila Theatre, he has directed more 30 productions, including “Romeo & Juliet,” “Hamlet,” “Twelfth Night,” “The Invisible Man,” “Agamemmnon,” “Othello,” “The Man Who Would Be King,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “The Tempest,” “Wrath of Achilles,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Cyrano de Bergerac,” “Julius Caesar,” “The Iliad: Book One” and “King Lear.”
Richmond’s fascination with “Henry VIII” began with family trips to Hever Castle, the family home of Anne Boleyn, the tragic queen of King Henry VIII, and his professional acting debut was playing Henry VIII in Robert Bolt’s “A Man For All Seasons.”
“Although the role comprises only one short scene, I devoured every book I could read about the man,” Richmond said. “For these reasons, Shakespeare’s ‘Henry VIII’ means a great deal to me. And, as one of the less-often-produced plays, it arouses my interest even more. It is usually conceived as a large-scale epic drama, full of spectacle and pageantry. However, I find it more compelling as a human story, a play about life as a monarch -- full of betrayals and scandals.
King Henry VIII was king of England from 1509-1547. Besides his six wives, he was best known for his role in the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church.
Other notable nominations for “Henry VIII”:
- Louis Butelli (outstanding supporting actor) – Butelli has been a guest artist at USC several times, most recently as assistant director for Richmond’s production of “A Cabal of Hypocrites” in 2008. Butelli is also involved as an actor with Richmond’s short film, “Dreadful Sorry.”
- Anthony Cochrane (outstanding sound design) – As guest artist, Cochrane played the title role in “Cyrano de Bergerac” at Longstreet Theatre in September 2009.
- William Ivey Long (outstanding costume design) – Long is a major Broadway costume designer (“The Producers,” “Hairspray,” “Chicago,” “Dreamgirls”) who also designed the costumes for the long-running outdoor drama, “The Lost Colony,” which Richmond has directed for the last three years on the Outer Banks.
The Helen Hayes Award, named for the famed actress, has recognized excellence in professional theater in the Washington, D.C., area since 1983.
The 27th annual Helen Hayes Awards will be presented April 25 in Washington, D.C.