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The Last Wife’ Gives Modern Voice To Tudor Royalty

Credit: Daren Scott

Above: "The Last Wife" actresses Cashae Monya, Allison Spratt Pearce and Kylie Acuña in an undated photo.

'The Last Wife' Gives Modern Voice To Tudor Royalty


Kate Hennig, playwright, "The Last Wife"


Public television fans have seen a lot of different versions of Henry VIII. TV series from "The Six Wives of King Henry" to "Wolf Hall" have shown plenty of Tudor men engaging in lofty language and, literally, cut-throat politics. But what we know less about is what the women were thinking.

"The Last Wife," making its West Coast debut at Cygnet Theater, puts the spotlight on Henry's sixth wife, Katherine Parr, in a contemporary, re-imagined history of the court. Playwright Kate Hennig said she was inspired by early coverage of the Arab Spring and the male leaders who were in danger of losing their power.

"It got me interested in the relationships between those men and their wives were like," Hennig said. "What is the power that happens in the bedroom and in the dining room table? What are the relationships that those kinds of men have with their daughters? I didn’t think I could write about the Arab Spring, but I thought I could write about Henry VIII."

The play premiered in 2015 but has taken on a different meaning since the 2016 election. A theater in Chicago had scheduled a run during the campaign season and Hennig heard reports from actors that Henry VIII got booed on the day President Trump was elected.

"It was fascinating to watch that ride, going from the hope of having female leadership to the giving in to the status quo," she said.

The show runs in San Diego through Feb. 11.

Hennig joins KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday with more on what the "The Last Wife" says about modern women seeking power.

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