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These informal, online conversations will investigate approaches to essential passages from the Shakespearean and Jacobean canon―and beyond.

"A HOMELY SWAIN"

WITH CHUKWUDI IWUJI

LIVESTREAM RECORDING
Monday, June 29, 2020

On Monday, June 29, celebrated Shakespearean CHUKWUDI IWUJI (Othello and Hamlet at The Public Theater) joined host NATHAN WINKELSTEIN to discuss Henry VI, the man who would be ‘a Homely Swain’. Chukwudi tackled this role in all three plays of the Henry VI trilogy for the ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY in 2006 in productions helmed by Michael Boyd. Chukwudi read a passage from the play and discussed his thoughts on text and character in Shakespeare. 

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EXCERPT FROM HENRY VI | Act 2: Scene 5
 
KING HENRY VI

This battle fares like to the morning's war,

When dying clouds contend with growing light,

What time the shepherd, blowing of his nails,

Can neither call it perfect day nor night.

Now sways it this way, like a mighty sea

Forced by the tide to combat with the wind;

Now sways it that way, like the selfsame sea

Forced to retire by fury of the wind:

Sometime the flood prevails, and then the wind;

Now one the better, then another best;

Both tugging to be victors, breast to breast,

Yet neither conqueror nor conquered:

So is the equal of this fell war.

Here on this molehill will I sit me down.

To whom God will, there be the victory!

For Margaret my queen, and Clifford too,

Have chid me from the battle; swearing both

They prosper best of all when I am thence.

Would I were dead! if God's good will were so;

For what is in this world but grief and woe?

O God! methinks it were a happy life,

To be no better than a homely swain;

To sit upon a hill, as I do now,

To carve out dials quaintly, point by point,

Thereby to see the minutes how they run,

How many make the hour full complete;

How many hours bring about the day;

How many days will finish up the year;

How many years a mortal man may live.

When this is known, then to divide the times:

So many hours must I tend my flock;

So many hours must I take my rest;

So many hours must I contemplate;

So many hours must I sport myself;

So many days my ewes have been with young;

So many weeks ere the poor fools will ean:

So many years ere I shall shear the fleece:

So minutes, hours, days, months, and years,

Pass'd over to the end they were created,

Would bring white hairs unto a quiet grave.

Ah, what a life were this! how sweet! how lovely!

Gives not the hawthorn-bush a sweeter shade

To shepherds looking on their silly sheep,

Than doth a rich embroider'd canopy

To kings that fear their subjects' treachery?

O, yes, it doth; a thousand-fold it doth.

And to conclude, the shepherd's homely curds,

His cold thin drink out of his leather bottle.

His wonted sleep under a fresh tree's shade,

All which secure and sweetly he enjoys,

Is far beyond a prince's delicates,

His viands sparkling in a golden cup,

His body couched in a curious bed,

When care, mistrust, and treason waits on him.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS
CHUKWUDI IWUJI is a tremendous actor who brings power, compassion, and deep intrigue to every character. He also never stops learning and is focused on benefiting from the present moment as much as possible.  He can currently be seen in Ava DuVernay’s limited award winning Netflix series “When They See Us,” and also plays a pivotal recurring role in Netflix series “Designated Survivor.” He has recently finished filming the second season of the Sundance/BBC series “The Split.” He will next be seen in the highly anticipated Amazon limited series The Underground Railroad, directed by Barry Jenkins, in upcoming feature Daniel Isn’t Real, and in Paul Greengrass’s latest feature, News of the World, opposite Tom Hanks. An accomplished theater veteran, Chuk recently starred in Othello for The Public Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park. Chuk’s performance in The Low Road, directed by Michael Greif, earned him an Obie Award, as well as 2018 Lucille Lortel and Drama League nominations. An Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company for his numerous Shakespearean performances, he has also received two Olivier awards for his titular role as Henry VI in the RSC’s 2009 productions of parts I, II, and III. Other stage credits include: the titular role in the Public Theatre’s Hamlet directed by Patricia McGregor; Ivo van Hove’s Obsession opposite Jude Law, and Hedda Gabler opposite Ruth Wilson, both for The National Theatre; The Public Theatre’s productions of King Lear and Antony and Cleopatra; Theatre for a New Audience’s Tamburlaine directed by Michael Boyd; and the Old Vic’s Richard III directed by Sam Mendes. In addition to his extensive stage work, Chuk has made numerous television appearances including “Quantico,” “The Blindspot,” “Madam Secretary,” and “Doctor Who.” Chuk’s film credits include Netflix’s Barry, Chad Stahelski’s John Wick: Chapter 2 opposite Keanu Reeves, A Woman A Part, Now: In The Wings Of A World Stage, the multi-award winning Exam, and Fall To Rise. 
NATHAN WINKELSTEIN has been with Red Bull Theater for three years, serving as Producing Director of The Revelation Reading Series, Education Director of Shakespeare in Schools and the Masterclass offerings. He also serves as a literary and casting associate for Red Bull. Nathan is also the NY Casting Associate for American Shakespeare Center. He has acted or directed for numerous companies around the country and in the UK, including Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Shakespeare Theater Company, W.H.A.T., LCT, The Folger, The Tobacco Factory, American Shakespeare Center and others. Nathan has taught for Red Bull, STC, LCT, WHAT, TGS and Shakespeare Forum; he also provides private acting coaching in NYC. Nathan received his BA in Theater from the University at Buffalo and his MFA in Classical Acting from the prestigious Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in the UK. Nathan is a proud member of Actors Equity.

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