September 7 – November 29, 2016

In this wild carnival of avarice, Shakespeare gives us the glorious second-chapter of England’s Wars of the Roses. Young King Henry’s fierce and ambitious queen, Margaret of Anjou, leads the House of Lancaster in brutal civil wars against the House of York and its would-be-king, Richard, Duke of York. Witchcraft, demons, murderers, the spectacular Jack Cade rebellion,, and the introduction of Dickie the crookback prodigy (who will become the villainous Richard III) all conspire to make this play unforgettable and unmissable.

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Stuff that Happens
Stuff that happens before the play
  • Shakespeare’s Joan of Arc (Henry VI, Part 1)
  • The rival families of York and Lancaster chose to wear red and white roses to proclaim their different loyalties.
  • The English defeat the French and burn Joan of Arc at the stake for witchcraft.
Stuff that happens during the play
  • Henry VI marries the French noble Margaret of Anjou, whom eventually conspires with Suffolk to influence the King and plot against the Protector of the Crown, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester.
  • Gloucester’s wife, Eleanor, wants to influence the king and eventually participates in witchcraft.
  • The Duke of York reveals his claim to the throne and gains support from Salisbury and Warwick.
  • The Earl of Suffolk is banished for the assassination of Gloucester; pirates kill him as soon as he leaves England.
  • Henry sends York to the wars in Ireland.
  • York stages a rebellion through Jack Cade, who rouses the rabble for the task and declares himself the Mayor of London.
  • Politicking, assassination, promises of revenge, and the rise of Richard III ensue.
Notes from the Director
A Rose by any other name

No matter what we call it, The Rise of Queen Margaret is chock-full of political maneuvering, assassinations, and a nation that erupts into civil war. We’ll open this show in September as our country gets ready to head to the ballot box; it will run after we elect our next President, but it will end before she/he takes office. So if you’re enthralled by the political process during this election year, Margaret will feed your beast. If you’re so sick of politics that you’d rather poke your eye out with a sharp stick than see another report from Fox News or MSNBC, you’ll love Margaret because in Shakespeare’s world, political losers get their heads chopped off.

Printed in quarto form (essentially an Elizabethan paperback) in 1594, the name of 2H6 on this title page is:

The First part of the Contention betwixt the two famous Houses of Yorke and Lancaster, with the death of the good Duke Humphrey: And the banishment and death of the Duke of Suffolke, and the Tragicall end of the proud Cardinal of Winchester, with the notable Rebellion of Jack Cade: and the Duke of Yorke’s first claim unto the Crowne

The 1623 First Folio (a Jacobean coffee table book which is the first collected works of 36 Shakespeare plays – we believe Shakes wrote or co-wrote 38), printed 7 years after Shakespeare’s death, includes the first known use of the title: The Second part of King Hen. the Sixt. The surviving evidence (and lack thereof) makes a good case that the play you’re seeing today was never called Henry VI, Part 2 in Shakespeare’s lifetime. What did Shakespeare call this play? How did his company advertise it? In keeping with the tradition of finding the right titles to help sell these remarkable stories (that might scare off modern Americans if we stuck with the Roman numerals and Parts listed in the Folio’s table of contents), we at the ASC have titled our first two productions in the Wars of the Roses Ride:

Joan of Arc (Henry VI, Part 1) – 2015 Summer/Fall Season
The Rise of Queen Margaret (Henry VI, Part 2) – 2016 Summer/Fall Season

And we asked our audiences to help us name 3H6 for 2017. Submit your ideas for the title of Henry VI, Part 3 at our Box Office or on our Facebook page.

If you’re worried about being able to follow a Shakespeare “history play,” relax. You can enjoy The Empire Strikes Back by itself without having seen Star Wars. You can enjoy Captain America: Civil War without having seen the previous Cap or Iron Man movies. If we succeed in entertaining your socks off with 2H6, we hope you return next year for 3H6 and the following year for Richard III. If we don’t succeed, come back anyway and let us take another crack at your socks. Thanks for joining us for this thrilling part of the Wars of the Roses Ride.


Artistic Director and Co-founder