The Last Wife
by Kate Hennig
Directed by Tamara Brown
November 1 at 8pm
November 4 at 1:30pm
(Centaur Theatre C1)
Tickets are $20, $15 for students/seniors, artists or
Pay-What-You-Decide at the door
Amanda Kellock as Kate
Quincy Armorer as Henry
Mike Payette as Thom
Kathleen Stavert as Mary
Teneisha Collins as Bess
Gabriel Maharjan as Eddie
“I have a choice?” – Katherine
“a very smart piece of writing”
– Chicago Tribune
“a superb first play”
– The Star
“racy, in the sense of both pungency and speed”
– National Post
– Globe and Mail
“a riveting meditation on power, family, intimacy…sexual politics and women’s rights”
– Ottawa Citizen
“an audacious, clever play”
– Victoria Times-Colonist
How does she revision?
WIVES OF HENRY VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547)
THE KING OF ENGLAND FROM APRIL 21 1509 UNITL HIS DEATH.
Catherine of Aragon
Anne of Cleaves
Kate Hennig’s The Last Wife is an re-imagining of history. The play takes its inspiration from the marriage between Henry VIII and his sixth wife, Katherine Parr, the final queen of the House of Tudor. Henry VIII is best known for his turbulent six marriages and, in particular, his efforts to have his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, annulled. His disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority and appointing himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Katherine Parr married him on July 12th, 1543, and outlived him by one year. With four husbands, she was also the most-married English queen.
Parr formed a close bond with Henry’s three children, and was personally involved in the education of Elizabeth and Edward, both of whom became English monarchs. She was influential in Henry’s passing of the Third Succession Act in 1542 that restored both his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, to the line of succession to the throne.
Katherine was a patron of the arts and music and her own learning and academic achievements were impressive. In 1545, her book “Prayers or Meditations” became the first work published by an English Queen under her own name. Another book, “The Lamentation of a Sinner”, was published after Henry VIII’s death.
Kate Hennig bases The Last Wife on actual people and events but has a flair for the dramatic–possibly offending the history buff–with some of this narrative being completely and utterly fabricated. The facts are not what Hennig clings to, it is the humanity of these iconic historical characters. She imagines and re-imagines them to explore what made them do what they did and why. The Last Wife is a play that revisions history to explore the gender politics and inequality.
“There’s something deeply, mercilessly wrong in the way the world treats woman.
Gender equality is the single most important struggle on the planet.
Patriarchy is a crime against humanity”
– Stephen Lewis, Stratford Festival Forum August 17, 2013.
Kate has been writing in one way or another for most of her life. Her writing includes plays, poetry, stories, articles for industry publications, a dissertation, two blogs, and a research paper.
Kate’s play The Last Wife had its world premiere in the 2015 Stratford Festival season, directed by Alan Dilworth. The Virgin Trial, a second play in what Kate is calling The Queenmaker Trilogy, will have its world premiere in the 2017 Stratford Festival season, directed by Alan Dilworth.
Kate was writing the third play in the Queenmaker series as a resident artist of the Leighton Artists’ Colony at The Banff Centre in 2016. It has the working title, Father’s Daughter.
As a playwright Kate has been a member of the Groundswell Playwrights’ Unit 2003 (More), Tarragon Playwrights’ Unit 2004 (More), and the Banff Playwrights’ Colony 2007 (More) and 2008 (Waterworks). Her play, The Eleventh David was produced in August 2006 as part of the SummerWorks Festival, to great critical and audience acclaim. Kate has written a monologue for movement and voice called, The Penelope Principle. She has written two highly subscribed blogs documenting her acting experiences with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and with Billy Elliot: The Musical on Broadway. Her play Waterworks was given a reading at the Stratford Festival in 2012.
Kate’s writing has been funded by the Canada Council, the Toronto Arts Council, and by the Ontario Arts Council, and supported by The Banff Centre, Nightwood Theatre, the Tarragon Theatre, the Blyth Festival, the Grand Theatre, the Shaw Festival, the Stratford Festival, Theatre Aquarius, Theatre Passe Muraille, and Volcano.
Director Tamara Brown on The Last Wife
there have been so many times
i have seen a man wanting to weep
beat his heart until it was unconscious.
—masculine, by Nayyirah Waheed
Growing up, I knew of the story of King Henry VIII and the fact that during his reign he had many wives and that he had sired Queen Elizabeth I, but I didn’t know much about Katherine Parr or of her legacy within the monarchy and so I anticipated a fresh look into the politics and power dynamics of her era with this play. What I discovered was more than I bargained for: to observe these things and much more through the prism of a family drama that is tinged with humour, heartache, and hope. Within even the most difficult and challenging families where the personal is political and vice versa, every action, every choice, every sacrifice has the potential not only to change their own lives irrevocably, but also to shape society and to change the world. The Last Wife follows the story of an erudite and complex woman caught between duty and desire, struggling to reunite a family divided, while navigating the machinations of court and her mercurial husband during the final years of his reign. As someone who can relate to both the joys and challenges that come from being a part of a blended family, the contradictions, comforts and complications that characterizes every relationship within it, to re-examine Tudor history through this lens makes a fascinating proposal to consider how much the personal becomes political, and vice versa.