Five Kings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art and Revolution Shakespeare presented Orson Welles’s play Five Kings (1938) during July 2014 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in a unique episodic format, honoring the 450th anniversary of the year of Shakespeare's birth.
Welles created, directed, and starred in Five Kings, an adaptation of Henry IV Parts 1 and 2; Henry V; and Holinshed's Chronicles, a primary Shakespeare source, used for a number of his plays. Featuring a cast of 55, a giant rotating stage, and a five-and-a-half-hour running time, Five Kings toured the East Coast before closing in Philadelphia at the now-defunct Chestnut Street Theatre.
Honoring the play’s original connection to Philadelphia, Revolution Shakespeare and the Museum remounted a streamlined version of the production, the first such adaptation in more than 70 years. Directed by Tom Reing and recut into five one-hour episodes, Five Kings was performed at the Museum each Wednesday in July (July 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30 at 6 p.m.), creating an unprecedented theatrical event celebrating Shakespeare’s birth.
The performances were performed in the Museum’s galleries rather than in its auditorium, providing patrons a new way of looking at the incredible collections. Admission was be Pay What You Wish, featuring as part of the Museum’s Wednesday Nights program.