LENOX, Mass. – Casting has been announced for The Contention (Henry VI, Part II) at Shakespeare & Company, directed by Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer and staged June 17 through July 15, opening Saturday, June 24.
Henry VI, Part II is commonly regarded as the strongest of the Henry VI trilogy, and the inspiration for Game of Thrones. It tells the story of the contention and power struggles between the two ancient families of Lancaster and York who wrestled for the fate of England. Now, four centuries on and in tandem with the current King Charles III’s coronation, Shakespeare & Company presents this First Folio work as The Contention, exploring themes of strategic marriages, political treachery, religious unrest, and a measure of comic sport.
Associate Directors Kate Kohler Amory and Sheila Bandyopadhyay round out the directing team, and a cast of 10 that includes actors making their Shakespeare & Company debuts as well as long-held veterans of the Company, include:
David Bertoldi (he/him)
(Henry / Bolingbrook)
S&Co: Albany/ Oswald (King Lear), Don Bowman (The Waverly Gallery), Mr. Knightley (Emma; staged reading), Mr. Wickham (Pride & Prejudice; staged reading), Berowne (Love’s Labor’s Lost), Oberon (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Romeo (Romeo & Juliet; NE Regional Tour); Brown/ Trinity Rep MFA: Cloten/ Cymbeline (Imogen Project), Eric Glass (u/s The Inheritance); GhostLit Rep: Tommy McCorkle (Pterodactyls), Antonio (The Tempest); WAM Theatre: Calvin (REALLY; reading); 13th Street Rep: Prudblood (Waste, Fraud and Abuse). Other credits include Tartuffe (Tartuffe), Emcee (Cabaret), and Seymour (Little Shop of Horrors).
Allyn Burrows (he/him)
(Suffolk / Cade)
S&Co: Director: The Tempest (2017), As You Like It (2018), Twelfth Night (2019). Shakespeare & Company performances: A Walk in the Woods, King Lear, God of Carnage, Or, King John, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry IV Part 1, among others. As Artistic Director of the Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Allyn directed and acted in numerous productions. Other Boston area performances include Can You Forgive Her (Huntington Theatre), Breaking the Code (Underground Railway Theatre), Shipwrecked (The Lyric Stage), The Seafarer and The Homecoming (Merrimack Repertory Theater), Five by Tenn (Speakeasy Stage). Elliot Norton Award for The Homecoming, King Lear, Five by Tenn; IRNE Award for Breaking the Code. Off-Broadway: Bug, Killer Joe, Louis Slotin Sonata, Closetland. Regionally: Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, American Conservatory Theatre, Long Wharf, Denver Center, Walnut St. Television: “The Broad Squad,” “Law and Order,” “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” “Against the Law.” Films include The Company Men, Julie & Julia, Manchester by the Sea, and Don’t Look Up.
Jonathan Epstein (he/they)
(Gloucester / Clifford)
S&Co: Jonny has directed or acted in more than 60 S&Co productions since 1987, including last year’s A Walk in the Woods and previously Creditors, Henry V, Merchant of Venice, Tempest, Cymbeline, Midsummer, Merry Wives, Private Eyes, Brief Lives, Heroes, An Iliad and the title roles in King Lear, Henry IV, Richard III, and Macbeth. In 1990, he created the role of The Men in Tina Packer’s original Women of Will. He has performed on and off-Broadway and at scores of regional theatres around the country including Berkshire Theatre Festival (Amadeus, Cuckoo’s Nest, Via Dolorosa, Educating Rita…) and ART (Merchant of Venice, Phaedra, Paradise Lost, Picasso at the Lapin Agile). He is a two-time recipient of the Elliot Norton Award and is a Teaching Professor of Classical Performance at the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training where he adapted and directed their production of Love’s Labour’s Lost. This year he was the recipient of FSU’s Outstanding Graduate Teacher Award. Jonny and his wife Ariel Bock met onstage during The Aspern Papers (1991).
(York / Dick)
S&Co, recent: Leonato, Much Ado About Nothing; Gloucester, King Lear; Prospero, The Tempest; Belarius/Doctor, Cymbeline; Falstaff, Merry Wives; George, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Elliot Norton Award, Outstanding Actor) at the Public Theatre Boston. Off-Broadway: Voltaire Emilie with Duende; Dr. Rank, A Doll’s House; Ostermark, The Father; at TFANA. Pickering, Pygmalion; Col. Brandon, Sense & Sensibility; Dorn, The Seagull with Bedlam. Regional: Killigrew, Nell Gwynn; Enobarbus, Antony & Cleopatra at The Folger in DC. Richard, Richard III (Westword Denver; Best Actor); Bottom, A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Macbeth, Macbeth at Colorado Shakes. Squeers/Hawk, Nicholas Nickleby at The Lyric, Boston. Lyman Felt, The Ride Down Mt. Morgan at Oldcastle, VT: Scrooge, Christmas Carol; Caesar, Julius Caesar; Orlando Shakes. Brutus, Julius Caesar at Prague Shakes. Women of Will: USA, World Tour. TV & Film: Bedlam: The Series, Cold Wallet.
Tamara Hickey (she/her)
S&Co: Much Ado About Nothing, Time Stands Still, Heisenberg, Cymbeline, The Tempest, Merchant of Venice, Two Gentlemen of Verona; Regional: Appropriate, SpeakEasy Stage; God’s Ear (Elliot Norton Award Best Actress & Best Production), Henry VIII, Pericles, Living In Exile, all for Actors’ Shakespeare Project; Rancho Mirage, New Repertory Theatre; Cabaret, American Repertory Theatre (IRNE Award Best Ensemble); Film/TV: Sheepdog, Boston Strangler, Mother/Android, John And The Hole (2020 Cannes/2021 Sundance), The Equalizer 2, The Judge; “Defending Jacob”; “Bull”; “The Secret Life Of Marilyn Monroe”; “Olive Kitteridge”; “Chasing Life”, “Army Wives”, “One Life To Live”; Canadian TV: “Blue Murder (Series Lead), “The Associates” (Series Lead); MFA American Repertory Theatre. Tamara’s solo show, This Is It, was recently in residency at Central Square Theatre in Boston. It was also part of Shakespeare & Company’s inaugural Plays in Process Festival last July, as well as at the United Solo Festival in NYC last fall.
L. James (he/him)
(Warwick / Holland)
S&Co: Art. TV/Film Credits include Law & Order, Zombie Wedding, and FBI. Theater Credits: Backwards Forwards KCAB, The Agitators, Sender, Intimate Apparel, Hamlet, Sweat, The MotherF@cker with the Hat, Threepenny Opera, and Angels in America.
Bella Merlin (she/her)
(Duchess of Gloucester)
S&Co: Ursula/George Seacoal (Much Ado About Nothing), Tilly (Tilly No-Body: Catastrophes of Love), Maria (Twelfth Night), Sir Hugh Evans (Merry Wives of Windsor), Queen/Arviragus (Cymbeline), Trinculo (The Tempest), Nerissa (The Merchant of Venice), Margaret (Worse Than Wolves), Outlaw (Two Gentlemen of Verona). Regional: Colorado Shakespeare Festival: Margaret (Richard III), LA Phil: Beckett One–Acts. UK: National Theatre: A Laughing Matter; The Permanent Way; She Stoops to Conquer. UK Regional includes: The Seagull; As You Like It; Brighton Beach Memoirs; Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!; Anna Karenina; Orlando. Film: Mente Revolver (Best Feature at Granada Cines del Sur, 2018). Numerous BBC TV and Radio. Publications include Shakespeare & Company: When Action is Eloquence with Tina Packer (2020); With the Rogue’s Company: Henry IV at the National Theatre (2005), The Complete Stanislavsky Toolkit (2014). Training: Russian University of Cinematography, Moscow; Ph.D. from University of Birmingham, UK. Professor of Acting & Directing, University of California, Riverside. Union: AEA, British Equity, SAG-AFTRA. 2016 S&Co. Winter Intensive.
(Cardinal / Horner)
TV: White Famous, Showtime (series regular), Watchmen, HBO (series regular), Ray Donovan, Showtime (Recurring), Feed the Beast, AMC (recurring). Also seen on, Only Murders in the Building, WU-TANG: An American Saga, New Amsterdam, God Friended Me, High Maintenance, and several more. Film: Superfly, Forty-year-old Version, Snakes, R#J, Possession of Hannah Grace, The Bygone, Julie Taymour’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, and others. Broadway: Shrek the Musical (Original cast), Hands on a Hardbody, (Original Cast). Off-Broadway: The Harder They Come, Public Theatre, Lortel nomination Alchemist, Mammon, Redbull theater, Lortel nomination Merry Wives, Falstaff, Public Theater, Drama Desk nomination Father Comes Home from the Wars, Public Theater, Lortel Award. Twelfth Night, Sir Toby, Public Theater. Cymbeline, Public Theater. Mother Courage, CSC. Merchant of Venice, TFANA. Midsummer Night’s Dream, TFANA. Widowers Houses, Epic Theater Ensemble. Tempest, Public Theater. On the Levee, Lincoln Center.
Kenneth Ransom (he/him)
(Somerset / Hume)
Kenneth Ransom is an international actor and teacher with over 30 years of experience in theater, film, television and streaming platforms. He is delighted to return to Shakespeare & Company, where he trained with eminent teachers, including co-founders Kristin Linklater and Tina Packer, and where he performed in some of his first professional productions, including As You Like It with Karen Allen, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Comedy of Errors. Film credits include his critically acclaimed turn in Gods of Egypt (as the Sphinx) with the late Chadwick Boseman; Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course with Steve Irwin; Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles with Paul Hogan and several Australian television dramas, including The Heights, Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End and the Secret Life of Us. On Stage, Kenneth collaborated with Mary Zimmerman on her Australian production of Metamorphoses and Dr. Wang Xiaoying of the National Theatre of China on his production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle. He has worked for The Mark Taper Forum, Melbourne Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Queensland Theatre Company, Bell Shakespeare (Sydney), and every major festival in Australia, as well as the Daegu International Music Festival in Korea. Kenneth is a member of Actors Equity, SAG/AFTRA, and Australian Equity.
(Jourdain / Vaux)
Austyn Williamson is thrilled to be making his Shakespeare & Company debut. Previous regional credits include The Inheritance Parts I & II (Trinity Repertory Company), The Tempest (Oak Park Festival Theatre), How To Defend Yourself (Victory Gardens Theatre), Henry V(First Folio Theatre), and several more. Austyn is a current student at the Brown University/Trinity Rep. MFA Acting Program.
Generously sponsored by Gary and Jeanie Knisely, The Contention (Henry VI, Part II) will be shown at the Tina Packer Playhouse with tickets ranging from $22 to $72; preview performances are $10 less and student tickets are $22. To purchase tickets, visit shakespeare.org, or call the Box Office at (413) 637-3353.
About Shakespeare & Company
Shakespeare & Company was founded in 1978 by Tina Packer. Located in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, the Company offers performance, education, and actor-training opportunities year-round, and attracts more than 40,000 patrons annually with a core of more than 150 artists.
Born in England, Tina was trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, performed in regional theater, was an Associate Artist at the Royal Shakespeare Company, played in television series for the BBC and ITV, and arrived in the U.S. in 1974. She had a Ford Foundation Travel and Study Grant to research the visceral roots of Shakespeare’s plays, and traveled to India, Israel, Italy and the U.S. She co-founded Shakespeare & Company in 1978, and has worked for the Company ever since! She has directed all of Shakespeare’s plays (some of them several times), acted in eight of them (never when directing), and taught the whole canon at more than 30 colleges, including Harvard, M.I.T., and NYU. At Columbia University, she taught in the MBA program for four years, resulting in the publication of Power Plays: Shakespeare’s Lessons in Leadership and Management with Deming Center for Quality Management at Columbia Business School Professor John O. Whitney for Simon and Schuster. For Scholastic, she wrote Tales from Shakespeare, a children’s book, and recipient of the Parent’s Gold Medal Award. Tina was the subject of the WGBH documentary Sex, Violence, and Poetry: A Portrait of Tina Packer. Tina’s book Women of Will was published by Knopf, and she has performed Women of Will with Nigel Gore in New York, Mexico, England, The Hague, China, and across the U.S. Charlie Rose interviewed Tina about her book Women of Will and she spoke at a TEDx talk about Women’s Voices. Her directing work is currently being written about in a work entitled Shakespeare in the Theatre: Tina Packer by Katharine Goodland and will be published by Bloomsbury-Arden for their Shakespeare in the Theatre Series. S&Co acting credits include Shirley Valentine, Molly Ivins, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Mother of the Maid; Volumnia, Gertrude, Cleopatra, and Edith Wharton several times. She’s the recipient of numerous awards and six honorary degrees, including the Commonwealth Award.
Sheila Bandyopadhyay (she/her)
(Associate Director / Movement)
Sheila Bandyopadhyay is a multi-hyphenate theater artist who, after 18 years in Brooklyn, NY, is delighted to be marking her first year as Shakespeare & Company’s Director of the Center of Actor Training. Movement Direction: Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare & Company); Macbeth (The Humanist Project); Mother Courage and her Children, The Cherry Orchard (American Academy of Dramatic Arts Company); Hamlet, Measure for Measure (NYU Gallatin); Twelfth Night (FSU Conservatory/Asolo Rep). In New York, Sheila has directed shows at the Brick, the United Solo Festival (Theater Row), the Tank, the Women in Theater Festival (the Gural), the West End Theater, and the 72nd St Theater Lab. Favorite roles include Stephano in The Tempest (Stages on the Sound), Tamora in Titus Andronicus (The Humanist Project), and Bianca/Grumio in The Taming of the Shrew (Tempest Ladies). Sheila is a proud member of the Humanist Project and a sponsored artist with Leviathan Lab.
Kate Kohler Amory (she/her)
Kate Kohler Amory is an award-winning, multi-hyphenate theater maker and professor. Some of her favorite directing/devising credits include: This Is It Shakespeare & Company: Plays in Process; Midsummer Nights: Dream Love Escape, The Birds, Romeo and Juliet: A Space Oddity (The Ridiculous Project); Dog Act, Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, The Mermaid Hour: Remixed, Midsummer Night’s Dream (Boston Conservatory Berklee); Macbeth, Big Love, Ghosts of Troy, The Wolves, Comedy of Errors (Salem State University) and Hamlet (Brandeis University, co-directed). Kate is Founding Artistic Director of The Ridiculous Project, and Professor of Movement and Acting for Boston Conservatory Berklee. MFA Naropa University, MA RADA/ Kings College, BFA Goldsmiths College London. Kate is a master teacher of the Acrobat of the Heart psychophysical actor training, is certified in Trish Arnold Pure Movement, DE-SMTT: Somatic Movement Educator and CYT. Acting and other credits can be found at katekohleramory.com.