Revolution Shakespeare

Suit the action to the word, the word to the action

Revolution Shakespeare, based in Philadelphia, PA, invites audiences to experience the variety and vitality of Shakespeare's works with bold and honest productions at little to no cost for patrons.

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.



Our collaboration with Revolution Shakespeare was the largest–and most successful—of our programming experiments on Wednesday Nights. Revolution Shakespeare integrated the spaces and the artworks into the production itself, thus letting our visitors experience the PMA’s collections in unexpected ways. The artworks became integral parts of the staging and action, which made this a production that one could not experience anywhere else.
— Jenni Drozdek, Manager of Public Programs, Philadelphia Museum of Art
It’s surprising—there’s a different energy in the gallery as soon as you come across a performance of this caliber. Introducing theatre, with people fighting with swords and yelling, is certainly exciting.
— American Theatre Magazine
Shakespeare’s plays form a magnificent epic of war, patriotism, loyalty, and friendship; there are goofy moments, romantic moments, thrilling moments, fierce and violent moments, and woven throughout there are heartbreaking moments of betrayal.
— The Philadelphia Inquirer