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Elden Street Players Prepare

Actors from ESP's next play, "Henry V," rehearse in the Public Works Building cafeteria.

Auditions and rehearsals for the Elden Street Players' next production, "Henry V," began in late November for the Jan. 21 opening show.

Director Dave Sher said although still in their beginning stages at the Sunday Dec. 12 rehearsal, he has been working on the play — which was chosen more than a year ago for the January production slot — since May.

Before choosing his actors, Sher said he worked with the technical crew regarding set design and lighting schemes for the Shakespearean play.

"Behind the scenes, that stuff really never stops," he said at the Dec. 12 rehearsal. "I listen to all the suggestions and try to work it in — tweaking is the best thing that can happen."

Sher said in addition to working on the set and technicalities dealing with the small theater space, he has been working with the actors — chosen before Thanksgiving — on their character development.

"I want to be as honest as I can be to the text, while including a modern audience," he said about his direction with the play. "Four-hundred years ago this is what Shakespeare was saying theater should be."

Sher said he chose "Henry V" as the play he wanted to direct this year because it is one of his favorite plays.

"The honesty and the passion that these characters are written with is something different for me than I have seen written in any other work," he said.

He added because there are scenes where horses should be included and cannon balls fired — props that cannot be recreated — he hopes to portray the play so the audience can watch using their imagination.

"The playwright is saying, if you use your imagination you can take a ride with us," he said, adding that is what he hopes to do. "He's as honest as a playwright can be, he's saying just take this ride with me."

In addition to coaching actors in the Public Works Building cafeteria, Sher said he has been over to the Backstage rented space neighboring the Industrial Strength Theatre to see the set construction.

"It's phenomenal stuff they're doing," he said. "People work their butts off — especially the backstage people — thank God for the behind the scenes people."

Sher said the next steps will be publicity — sending out post cards to announce the upcoming production — and making sure things come together after the holidays.

"Henry V" is scheduled to open Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. and runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays 7 p.m., through Feb. 12 at the Industrial Strength Theatre located at 269 Sunset Business Park Drive.

Tickets are $15 for plays, $18 for musicals, $12 students/seniors. For ticket reservations and information call 703-481-5930.