Romeo and Juliet (2009/10)

Directed by Damien Ryan

Written by William Shakespeare

This production of Romeo and Juliet takes a simple, ensemble approach to the storytelling, using song and voice, and celebrating the actors’ natural instruments to create the sense of ‘community’ that Shakespeare works so hard to foster in this play. He sets each striking moment of action in the context of the community surrounding it – in four short days we witness two street brawls, a harvest ball, the idleness of youth, a public harassment of the nurse, a wedding party in ruin, a final rush to the Capulet tomb. So much is public and outdoors in this story, capturing a particularly Italian vision of life, and yet at the heart of it is a soaring love affair that remains private, unseen and entirely secret until a terrible Thursday morning when a town of adults, now stripped of its children, stands in the glooming dawn to learn the appalling costs of its ignorance and gracelessness.

We have balanced this actor-centric simplicity of style with a quite specific setting – the central piazza of a small Italian village in 1945, in the days directly after the war’s end. The hardened women of Verona have held the fort through years of European war until a Sunday morning after the armistice when their Veronan men, brothers, cousins, different families, all alike in dignity, all of them fighting for the same side, return to their women and their homes with the promise of peace, sanctuary and new hope, only to find that a deeper human folly, an ancient cycle of hatred has never gone away. In this tiny pocket of Europe, on the brink of rebirth after years of devastation, a community collapses upon itself due to universal human frailties of envy, vengeance, territorialism and corrupted ideals. As with the great Greek tragedies before it and the many that have followed (but perhaps even more successfully than any of them), the five acts of Romeo and Juliet navigate the rift between our rational capacity for good judgment and the irrational instincts that make us human, that we must listen to, despite their inherent dangers.

As the Friar puts it:

“Two such opposed kings encamp them still

In man as well as herbs, grace and rude will,

And where the worser is predominant,

Full soon the canker death eats up that plant”

The young people in this great story follow their impulses and listen to their instinctive inner voices for which they all pay a terrible price, but their apparent rashness and “rude will” is the only logical response to the extraordinarily irrational world built around them by their families. Sometimes it is imperative we have the courage to break the rules and stand up in the face of terrible consequences, to denounce logic and follow our gut.

Either way our modern world is too often consumed by violence and unbreakable cycles of hatred, such as that which fuels this famous play. Cleansing, for these characters, as for us, comes at a terrible cost. But Shakespeare’s loving couple, Romeo and Juliet, have a talismanic value, their boundless love representing notions of health, passion and selflessness as they fight to expand the horizons of their suffocating world. As they transcend the catastrophe around them, we learn, through them, a valuable lesson among the ruins. This play is funny, bleak, amorous, frightening, deliriously romantic, offensive and inspiring – often in the same scene; and what is most wonderful about working on it is that as you stroll through its giant gallery of images, faces and sounds, you can never be certain what remarkable and opposite sensation the next frame contains until it looms into view.

It has been a joy to work with this delightful group of people on this wonderful story and we hope you enjoy it with us.

Director's Note

(No director's note available for this production)

Production Reviews

Production Gallery

1/1

Photography by Seiya Taguchi

Cast
Crew

2009/10 SUMMER SEASON: 

  • Romeo | Michael Sheasby

  • Juliet | Eloise Winestock

  • Mercutio | Damien Strouthos

  • Tybalt | Edmund Lembke-Hogan

  • Benvolio | Eric Beecroft

  • Balthazar | Ross Langley

  • Montague | James Lugton

  • Capulet | Terry Karabelas

  • Lady Capulet | Cat Martin

  • Nurse | Naomi Livingston

  • Friar | Damien Ryan

  • Sister Lawrence | Lizzie Schebesta

  • Apothecary | Emma Barnes, Oliver Wakelin

  • Paris | Takaya Honda

  • Prince Escalus | Oliver Burton

  • Peter | Drew Livingston

  • Capulet Ensemble | Oliver Wakelin, Allin Vartan-Boghosian, Lizzie Schebesta, Christopher Stalley

  • Montague Ensemble | Anna Bamford, Gretel Maltabarow, Mitchell Lagos, Emma Barnes


2010/11 SUMMER SEASON: 

  • Romeo | Damien Strouthos

  • Juliet | Eloise Winestock

  • Mercutio | Ross Langley

  • Tybalt | Edmund Lembke-Hogan

  • Benvolio | Eric Beecroft

  • Balthazar | Chris Stalley

  • Montague | James Lugton

  • Lady Montague | Alison Carlson

  • Capulet | Terry Karabelas

  • Lady Capulet | Bernadette Ryan

  • Nurse | Naomi Livingston

  • Friar | Damien Ryan

  • Sister Lawrence | Lizzie Schebesta

  • Apothecary | Oliver Wakelin

  • Paris | Takaya Honda

  • Prince Escalus | Oliver Burton

  • Peter | Drew Livingston

  • Capulet Ensemble | Nick Willis, Allin Vartan-Boghosian, Lizzie Schebesta

  • Montague Ensemble | Anna Bamford, Gretel Maltabarow, Jessica Clay, Sabryna Te'o, Oliver Wakelin

2009/10 SUMMER SEASON: 

  • Director | Damien Ryan

  • Costume Design | Anna Gardiner

  • Original Music | Drew Livingston, Naomi Livingston

  • Stage Manager | Mark Harding

  • Lighting Design | Liam Fraser

  • Lighting Operator | Suzanne Mackay


2010/11 SUMMER SEASON 

  • Director | Damien Ryan 

  • Costume Designer | Anna Gardiner 

  • Original Scores and Music Direction | Drew Livingston, Naomi Livingston 

  • Lighting Design | Liam Fraser 

  • Dance Choreography | Lizzie Schebesta, Naomi Livingston, Eloise Winestock 

  • Sword Choreography | Edmund Lembke-Hogan, Eric Beecroft, Damien Strouthos, Ross Langley 

  • Art and Design Manager | Terry Karabelas 

  • Photographer | Seiya Taguchi 

  • Program and Art Design | Seiya Taguchi, Tegan Hendel 

  • Scenic Construction | Barry French 

  • Film and Visual Identity Promo | David Stalley, John Karabelas, Takaya Honda 

  • Festivals Coordinator | Oliver Burton 

  • Stage Manager | Sarah Ryan

  • Festival Crew | Oliver Wells, Patrick Morrow, James Winestock, Amie McNee, Cassandra Jones, Katy Willis, Caroline Langley, Charlie Jones, Robbie McNeil