by actor Cody Nickell
Cody Nickell plays Hotspur in Henry IV and Fluellen in Henry V.
I write this blog post as the cast of The Making Of A King: Henry IV and Henry V gets ready to have its last rehearsal in the rehearsal space before moving into the theatre to start tech rehearsals. So far, it has been a fast and furious process, unlike anything I have ever been a part of. The scope of the story that Joe Haj and Mike Donahue have set out to tell is breath taking and I have had an absolute blast watching my fellow cast mates and all the people involved wrestle this monster text down to the ground and build it back up into an exciting, moving, funny and surprising ride.
The chance to see these plays done in conjunction with each other is such a rarity and to get to be a part of their creation here at PlayMakers means so much to me. I saw my first production of a Shakespeare play right here at PlayMakers almost twenty years ago as a high school student in Chapel Hill (Twelfth Night). I was absolutely amazed by the production and everyone involved (some of whom I am getting to work with on this show), and it went a long way in inspiring me to pursue theatre and acting as a career. To get to come back home and explore the amazing words of Shakespeare on this stage with this group of people is thrilling to me.
So in these plays, I am playing Hotspur in Henry IV and Fluellen in Henry V, and I have to say I couldn’t be happier about it. Hotspur is an incredibly fun and complex character to play and one that I have always wanted to tackle. I get a pretty great sword fight. Grown boys playing with swords. Always fun. And it is one of my wife’s favorite characters in Shakespeare, and it certainly never hurts to impress your wife.
Some of the other highlights of this rehearsal process so far have been working with a composer in the room (an incredible Marc Lewis, creating an entire soundscape by himself), jumping from working with one director to the other, watching this incredible company of actors delve deeper and deeper into their characters, and when I’m not acting, I am having so much fun being an audience member (the tavern scenes in Henry IV are especially fun to watch with Mike Winters as Falstaff and Shawn Fagan as Hal leading their wacky band of brothers in all sorts of shenanigans). The chance to see the characters develop over the course of these plays is amazing, especially the journey that Shawn is creating with Hal and Henry. It is a special thing to behold.
And all this has happened before we’ve even moved into the theatre. These next few weeks should be crazy and busy and exhausting but full of amazing new discoveries along the way to opening night.