First Act: Henry V


-- At the Globe Theater in London and even on the green at Greenfield Lake is where we expect to see Shakespeare's plays. But the next new venue for the famous playwright's work is tucked in the corner of a local bar.

"It was kind of a joke actually, thinking we could do theater in a pub," says Richard Davis, founder of Guerilla Theater Company.

But that's exactly what the members of the company are doing, and it's not what you'd call typical.

"We do really gritty, street-level theater. It's bare bones. The essence of the theater is an actor, a story, and a stage," says Davis.

The story is Henry V. The stage is made of concrete and flourescent lights. The bottom floor of the Soapbox in downtown Wilmington has been transformed into what some people are calling the Speakeasy, but it's anything but quiet.

Henry V is Guerilla Theater's third production in the new space. And while the audience may sometimes sit on bar stools and the actors appear from behind an unassuming black curtain, they'll tell you there's no better place to perform.

"It's an intimate setting, and I think the audience members that actually come to see our plays, I think they like it a little bit more," says actor Carl Kennedy.

If watching Shakespeare at a bar isn't interesting enough, how about a twist on the show's theme?  The production is set in a more modern time period and tackles such issues as racial equality, women's rights and economic prosperity, all in iambic pentameter.

"It was like, well how do we make it work? So we decided to set it in post World War II America but make it more representative of the movement of the time," says director Susan Auten.

"It's taking something traditional and bringing it into the modern world, kind of fusing them together," says Kennedy.

It's an effort to create a show the company believes will make an impact.

Guerilla Theater donates part of the proceeds from every show to a charity. This year, the company has partnered with Step Up for Soldiers, a group which helps modify homes for disabled soldiers.

If you'd like to see Henry V, the show is running September 7-9 at the Soapbox in downtown Wilmington. Performances start at 8:00pm. For more information call (910) 233-9914.

Reported by Heather Setzler