Alexander Carney’s new play, HENSLOWE! will have its world premiere at Torn Page – the historic home of Geraldine Page and Rip Torn – located at 435 West 22nd Street, NYC. Performing October 1 -5 at 7:30 p.m. and October 6 at 2:00 p.m. $20 suggested donation. Reservations at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/henslowe-tickets-69820114843?aff=ebdssbdestsearch
HENSLOWE! Tells the story of Phillip Henslowe, the Elizabethan entrepreneur who built the Rose Playhouse – where Shakespeare’s early plays were first performed.
Henslowe struggled to find meaning and recognition in life. Alexander Carney’s fascinating depiction of REAL life in the days of the great masters like Shakespeare, Jonson, Marlowe, and Kyd. Be prepared to rethink the renaissance. This remarkable in-depth portrait of a deeply driven man had an astonishing 14-year gestation filled with readings, workshops, and endless hours of research. One might say that Carney is as driven as Henslowe!
Mr. Carney also used Henslowe! as a major jumping off point of his theatre company, Raised Spirits Theater, which creates theater “by, for and with ALL sorts of people” with a focus on the classics. Thus far, RST staged Shakespeare’s Macbeth; a radio drama version of Coriolanus; and a workshop where A Midsummer Night’s Dream was explored. Now RST is producing its first original piece, HENSLOWE!
Donations to RST help open the door to the classics – new and rare – in ways not-yet-seen. Donations an be made at the following link: https://fundraising.fracturedatlas.org/raised-spirits-theater?fbclid=IwAR2ygZAHeScVZTHTgnfgYVav9cDg-QX-WK2bN1oa2koIqcTA1jeWC5vjBhg. Checks can be made payable to Raised Spirits Theater c/o Alexander D Carney and sent to 35-13 31st Avenue #2-2, New York, NY 11106 (Checks should be made payable to Fractured Atlas, with Raised Spirits Theater in the memo line.)
Ai wanted to check-in with the impresario, Mr. Carney, about the impresario, Mr. henslowe
Tell us about yourself as an artist
I’ve been involved in making live theater for my entire life. I graduated from NYC’s High School of the Performing Arts Drama Department, was at SUNY/Purchase in the Acting Conservatory, worked off-Broadway in rotating rep with such stars as Geraldine Page, F. Murray Abraham, Tovah Feldshuh, and Michael Moriarty. From there, I worked regional theater for a long time, with a special love for the classics. I’ve had the chance to play Macbeth, Caliban, Claudius, and Benedick; opportunities I’m very grateful for. I come most alive when working with material from the Elizabethan era. I’m not sure why that is but it’s always been that way. Perhaps it’s because my father was an actor and my earliest memories of him are him reading me Shakespeare in bed so I would sleep.
What drew you to Henslowe – the man that is
I was first drawn to the fact that he’s a cold man. I love that. He’s punctilious in his business dealings and in documenting his day to day life. That shows me he cared about what he was doing. As I got further into him through research, I found out what he loved. If you read his letters to his daughter and wife you realize how much this cold man who held the world accountable for what it owed him (in addition to being a playhouse owner he was a moneylender and brothel owner) loved these two people. You can feel the heat of his caring. I respect that. The contradiction of it makes for great theater.
What surprises did you encounter – in your research; in your writing ; in performing it?
What I said above about his coldness and warmth surprised me in the research. In the writing process I was continuously surprised by what came out on the page. That’s my favorite part of writing. In performing, I am amazed at how much feeling it takes to sustain this cold, hard man. I’ve fallen in love with him even more.
What are the challenges of starring in the play you wrote?
As in any one person piece, stamina. Perspective is an issue but I have a tremendous partner in my director, Michael Mahony whom I trust completely.
Why should we care about Philip Henslowe?
We’re all a mixed bag. We are all cold and hot. We love, hate —- and we ALL want to leave a legacy. That’s human. That’s what this play exposes in Phillip Henslowe, that need, that fear of being forgotten, that lives in all of us. The audience will understand this need because they feel it too.
What’s next for you?
Two days off. Then working on the website and publicity materials in anticipation of booking the tour. I am also writing a four hander that intrigues me; I’ve suspended work on that while HENSLOWE! Is in its birth process. I’m looking forward to getting back to it. Plus auditioning as much as I can; I’d love to do something where someone else was in charge.