Romeo & Juliet:
Love Is Love
Repercussion Theatre’s 30th Shakespeare-in-the-Park Tour
By Barbara Ford
For its 30th anniversary season, Repercussion Theatre presents Romeo & Juliet: Love is Love from July 5 to August 8, 2018. The largest Shakespeare-in-the-Park (SITP) tour that Repercussion Theatre has had in a decade – with 30 shows to mark the anniversary – makes the usual rounds of local parks as well as visits to the West Island, the Eastern Townships, the Laurentians, Eastern Ontario and Quebec’s Montérégie, with two additional locations: the Olympic Park and Hawkesbury.
The Montreal opening is July 6 at Mount Royal Cemetery; the West Island opening is July 5 at Baie d’Urfé’s Fritz Farm, and the Ontario opening is in Cornwall on July 7 at the appropriately named Lamoureux Park. All shows begin at 7 pm.
What’s in a name, that which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.
Repercussion’s customary method of “holding a mirror up to nature” creates a unique, current context through which the well-known love tragedy unfolds. A band of thespians is tasked to perform Romeo and Juliet repeatedly until society finally learns that hate not only destroys the subjects of its loathing but also the cherished.
The troupe draw lots to decide who plays which roles and as luck would have it this time, Romeo and Juliet will be portrayed by women, among other chance gender-bent character assignations.
Timeless themes of rebellion, power, pride, fate, and the passionate and unpredictable nature of love and hate, resonate anew in this 400-year old tale. Juliet’s arranged marriage, built on the business of making powerful alliances through wedlock, and the Friar’s ill-fated letter that could have saved the doomed lovers, ultimately force them to take the most drastic of measures in the name of love.
‘For stony limits cannot hold love out.’
“I don’t think we’re doing anything particularly new”, explains Artistic Director Amanda Kellock. “While Shakespeare has come to be regarded as an untouchable monolith, he himself was not rigid. He was like a Renaissance sci-fi playwright, taking old stories, setting them in far-off, half-imagined places, and applying his contemporary lens to connect with the audiences of his time. This play in particular has often had a “queer” element to it, whether it was the Elizabethan custom of men portraying all of the female roles or the Cushman sisters in the 1800s, who took the world by storm with their interpretation of the play. It’s been such a joy to explore the various ways that identity and desire are experienced and expressed in our production.”
Ultimately, it is not sexual identity that forces the star-crossed lovers to hide their passion but the endless rivalry between the families that inhibits them from proclaiming their love publicly. Kellock asks, “Wouldn’t it be great if the play finally taught us to let people love who they want to love”?
Adam Capriolo (Twelfth Night, SITP 2015) is the effusive Mercutio and the austere Prince Escalus. George Brown College and Stratford Conservatory alumnus, Ryan Bommarito, plays Friar Lawrence and the Capulet servant, Peter. Paris, Juliet’s appointed fiancé, is played by first-year NTS student, Ray Jacildo. Fellow first-year NTS student from the Maritimes, Patrick Jeffrey, is the fiery Tybalt.
Actor/musician/singer, Gitanjali Jain (Twelfth Night, SITP 2015 and Julius Caesar, SITP 2016) returns for her third SITP tour as Juliet’s Nurse. Recent NTS grad, Cara Krisman, returns for her second consecutive SITP production to play Romeo’s cousin and friend, Benvolio. Anton May, a UK ex-pat and 2016 Dawson graduate who appeared in both of Geordie Productions’ school tour productions this year, portrays Lady Capulet. Montreal-based Guyanese-Canadian performer and theatre creator, Michelle Rambharose, makes her Shakespearean debut as Juliet opposite Shauna Thompson, another recent NTS graduate, playing Romeo. And finally, local actor, singer, producer, director, and choreographer, Nadia Verrucci, plays Lord Capulet.
‘O sweet Juliet, thy beauty hath made me effeminate.’
Subtle costuming by returning META-winning designer, Sophie El-Assad (Much Ado About Nothing, SITP 2017), differentiates the rigid power establishment from the younger generation trying to break free of their elders’ gender-defining finery, and clearly contrasts the “old money” Montagues with the flashier Bourgeois Capulets.
Internationally renowned set and lighting designer, Ana Cappelluto, a descendant of the Capulet clan, used childhood memories of growing up in Italy to inspire the adaptable set and evocative lighting, which reflect both the calcified hatred between the “two households” and the sensual duality of love and death.
Gitanjali Jain does double duty as a performer and the Sound Designer, using the Cajon, a South American percussion instrument, and the actors’ voices to create the original sound scape, and inserts some traditional songs, though none are inherent to the play. Repercussion’s new Artistic Associate, Shanti Gonzales, is the Assistant Director. Holly Greco created the dances, the exciting scuffles and brawls are devised by fight choreographer Michelle Lewis, and renowned Shakespeare coach, Brian Doubt, returns for the third year to provide text support. Visual artist and film director, Sarah Junique, is the Production Manager and Danielle Laurin adds a third SITP production to her credits as Stage Manager for the second time.
For the third consecutive year, everyone will be able to enjoy every nuance of the Bard’s English thanks to Plank Design, who designed a unique application that enables Francophone audiences to follow the text by reading French sub-titles on their smart phones.
Once again, Repercussion Theatre is partnering with Geordie Productions to give young audiences playful and innovative ways to engage with Shakespeare. There are six 2-hour Introduction to Shakespeare workshops available for kids and teens at a cost of $35. Participants will learn what all the “foresooths” and “wherefores” are about, experience the fun of speaking Shakespeare, and meet the cast of Romeo & Juliet: Love is Love. Maximum 10 children per class. Visit geordie.ca/gtsworkshops to register.
Wednesday, July 11 from 4 pm to 6:15 pm – 8 to 12 years
Wednesday, July 11 from 4 pm to 6:15 pm – 13 to 17 years
Sunday, July 29 from 4 pm to 6:15 pm – 8 to 12 years
Sunday, July 29 from 4 pm to 6:15 pm – 13 to 17 years
McGill University Campus
Tuesday, July 31 from 4 pm to 6:15 pm – 11 to 17 years
Centennial Park, Beaconsfield
Friday, August 3 from 4 pm to 6:15 pm – 11 to 17 years
Repercussion Theatre is also teaming up with McGill University’s Early Modern Conversions Project to host an informative pre-show discussion on July 31 at 6:30 pm at the McGill Campus site, prior to that evening’s performance.
The tour is designed to be performed outdoors, however at several locations there are alternate indoor locations in walking distance of the respective park. A show is cancelled ONLY in case of heavy rain and/or thunderstorms. The phone line, website and the company’s social media channels are constantly updated.
All shows begin at 7 pm
5 – Baie d’Urfé
6 – Mount Royal Cemetery (Montreal premiere)
7 – Cornwall (ON)
8 – Cornwall (ON)
10 – Westmount
11 – Westmount
12 – Dorval
13 – Montreal West
14 – Knowlton (Eastern Townships)
15 – Hawkesbury (ON)
17 – Nun’s Island
18 – Kirkland
1 – LaSalle
2 – Cote-St-Luc
3 – Beaconsfield
4 – Morin Heights
5 – Rivière-des-Prairies
7 – Plateau-Mont-Royal
8 – Olympic Park
19 – Park Extension
20 – NDG
21 – Canadian Centre for Architecture
22 – N.D.G
24 – Pierrefonds
25 – Lafontaine Park
26 – Town of Mt-Royal
27 – St-Laurent
28 – Westmount
29 – Westmount
31 – McGill University Campus
For park details & maps, visit repercussiontheatre.com/rj-loveislove
About Repercussion Theatre
The mission of Repercussion Theatre is to deliver professional, classically based, visually dynamic theatre that is accessible to all, regardless of income, culture, language, age or education. Repercussion brings the performing arts to people in their communities, reaching new audiences and instilling in them, a lifelong love of theatre.
For more information, visit the web site at repercussiontheatre.comImages: Sajad S-Zand (except where indicated otherwise)
Feature image: courtesy of Repercussion Theatre
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Barbara Ford Barbara has been involved with the performing arts in one way or another for most of her life, first on stage as a professional dancer/choreographer and latterly behind the scenes in marketing and communications. She now uses her knowledge and experience to promote the work of other artists.