Shakespeare In Goerlitzer Park Presents 'Henry IV' Berlin's version of Shakespeare in the Park is presenting Henry IV in Goerlitzer Park. An international team has re-written and re-interpreted Shakespeare's historical drama. Wild Welsh women, royalists, traitors and drunkards rampart through Goerlitzer Park for the next three weekends.
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Shakespeare In Goerlitzer Park Presents 'Henry IV'

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Shakespeare In Goerlitzer Park Presents 'Henry IV'

Shakespeare In Goerlitzer Park Presents 'Henry IV'

Shakespeare In Goerlitzer Park Presents 'Henry IV'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/139853740/139855541" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Percy Hotspur, left, played by Gianni von Weitershausen, performs in the rain with Sebastian Witt, who plays Glendower. Monika Mueller-Kroll for NPR hide caption

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Monika Mueller-Kroll for NPR

Percy Hotspur, left, played by Gianni von Weitershausen, performs in the rain with Sebastian Witt, who plays Glendower.

Monika Mueller-Kroll for NPR

Goerlitzer Park on a Sunday evening is full of strange sounds and strange creatures moving through the park, followed by a big swarm of people.

Shakespeare in the Park, which has a long tradition in many major cities worldwide, has arrived in Kreuzberg, for free and for everybody.

A team of four, two Germans and two Americans, produced "King Henry IV," the second of Shakespeare's historical plays about the War of the Roses.

One of the directors of the show, Brandon Woolf, from New York, says the team was drawn to Shakespeare's Henry IV because of its complexity and relevance today.

"[We were] trying to think what kind of play we might want to do in the midst of a crazy political turmoil that was going on, and we started to read all these plays, and this one emerged as having a number of themes and characters that seemed really interesting to us on a number of levels," Woolf says.

Henry IV deals with two main plots. One focuses on the King's strained relationship to his son Prince Harry, who spends time with the thieving drunk, Falstaff. The second concerns a rebellion that is being plotted against King Henry by a family of noblemen, the Percy's.

Woolf and his team have re-written and re-invented the historical play to involve current turmoil and drama.

"Certainly all of the privatization struggles that we were having in California and then in Wisconsin in the fall. The Arab Spring. The revolts in North Africa. And then we started looking at this play, and it has these really interesting levels: the world of politics and then it has this world that totally steps outside of the political sphere and both seem really interesting," Woolf says.

Maxwell Flaum, from California, is one of the writers of the current Berlin production.

Von Weitershausen performs with Lady Percy, played by Meridian Winterberg. The performances in Goerlitzer Park, in German and English, are free to the public. Monika Mueller-Kroll for NPR hide caption

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Monika Mueller-Kroll for NPR

"I came to Berlin for love, and then I met this man," Flaum says, "And we decided we must do Shakespeare in this Park because this is sort of the center, the heart of Kreuzberg, where all the characters come out. We wanted a stage-less performance of Shakespeare, something new, something that would be directly involved in the day-to-day scene of this particular park. And we thought that would be the underlying principle of the play- sort of face to face with an audience, which is not necessarily here for us, but might hopefully get involved and might become another huge character.

In "Shakespeare in Goerlitzer Park," modern characters like Orson Welles and literary critic Harold Bloom host a tea party. Wild Welsh women, royalists and traitors jump out from bushes and lead you through different locations in the park. An anteater delivers messages and the King broadcasts news via a boom box.

On premiere night, even though it rained buckets, the crowd was delighted by the English-German performance, and it did attract many of the parks diverse characters.

The piece ends in the epic Battle of Shrewsbury: the rebels versus the King's army, but in this version, with stuffed animals.