Romeo & Juliet — Week 9

This week, we’d like to introduce you to our actors who constitute Verona’s citizens — and are thus constantly caught in the brawls of these two feuding families.

Let us start with Blair. He plays Friar John and the Chorus. Blair joined Entity in 2001 by climbing through a window and playing a corpse and hasn’t looked back since. In R&J he plays a character who’s pretty much alive, taking our audience by the hand and guiding them through the play.

Blair Gaulton as Friar John/Chorus; Photo: Dora Lutz

Another Friar, Friar Laurence, is played by David. David moved to Munich from Britain in 2017 and he’s excited to get back into acting. Previous credits include Angel Clare (Tess of the D’Urbervilles), Elisha J. Whitney (Anything Goes) and Professor Willard (Our Town), all with the Barnes Theatre Company, London. This summer, in his role as Friar Laurence, he has the best intention of bringing those two feuding families back together. Where did it all go wrong? Alack.

David Viita as Friar Laurence; Photo: Dora Lutz

Next we have Marie, who plays Rosaline. While normally Rosaline is only pined about by Romeo but never really makes an entrance, we thought it would be a wonderful idea to bring her onto stage and let Romeo pine a little bit longer. This is her first time with Entity — let’s welcome her to the Team!

Marie Toffolo as Rosaline; Photo: Dora Lutz

A trouble maker needs someone to enforce order, and this is Zubair’s role as Officer. Originally from Uganda, he has joined Entity this year for the first time. As Officer, he will be busily containing Verona’s chaos — so better watch out, he can be quite tough on trouble makers!

Zubair Sempebwa as Officer; Photo: Dora Lutz

Romeo & Juliet – Week 8

This week, we’d like to introduce you to some of the cast and their stories.

Let us start with the Court of Verona.

Stefan joined Entity last year for Hamlet, playing Laertes. This year he plays Prince Escalus, claiming that sometimes his role of installing authority — or perhaps better, of attempting to install — vaguely reminds him of his job as a teacher. He also has the biggest hat in the cast, clearly prepared for wind and any kind of weather.

Stefan Füssl as Prince Escalus; Photo: Dora Lutz

Dmytro, also in his second year with Entity, plays his Attendant as well as the Apothecary, two distinctly different characters. You can buy poison from him, but beware, “his drugs are quick”, as Romeo will find out.

Dmytro Popovych as Attendand to Escalus & Apothecary; Photo: Dora Lutz

Another Entity regular for some years now, is Daniel. In Twelfth Night he played the identical twin to Viola (yes, willing suspension of disbelief!), named Sebastian. This year he undertakes the role of County Paris, who’s sole interests are a) looking dashing and b) marrying Juliet. Spoiler alert: Paris will succeed only in one of the two and most tragically he will suffer a fatal fencing accident, but at least, he will be buried next to Juliet.

Daniel von Eichhorn as County Paris; Photo: Dora Lutz

New to Entity, and with lots of energy, is Anna. She is Paris’ Page and is currently attempting to improve her whistling skills so to warn Paris.

Anna Vamos as Page to Paris; Photo: Dora Lutz

And then there is Alexandra. Having starred last year in the lead role as Hamlet, she has taken on the role of the unruly teenager once more, this time as Mercutio. Oh yes, another spoiler alert, Mercutio also dies in a fencing duel… Today’s youth, ts, ts. Do you spot the similarities between Hamlet and Mercutio? We certainly do.

Alexandra Krienke as Mercutio; Photo: Dora Lutz

You might have found the linking elements in this character group — hats and the colour purple. So, fans of Verona’s Court, if you want to support your team, purple would be your fan colour. See you at the Theatron!

Romeo & Juliet — Week 7

This week, we’re looking at some members of the creative team.

There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes, to present a stunning show to our audience. And it takes quite a few people to cope with this.

One person that puts a lot of effort into it, is the poster designer. Meet Isi – she created the lovely artwork for our R&J poster.

Isi is originally from Italy and moved to Germany in 2012. She has been involved with previous Entity productions. Originally a biologist, she discovered her love for paragliding and has been working as a professional paraglider ever since. And if she doesn’t paraglide, she puts her energy into artwork. She loves to express herself in this creative way.

For the artwork for R&J, she looked at the lovers, of course, but also at the fact that they come from two feuding families. Creating two towers in Veronese style, she pictures the Capulets and Montagues in the background, literally ‘towering over’ the two lovers and thus highlighting their “star-crossed” love.

Spinning the theme of the two houses further, another artist takes over. Meet Olga – she created the wonderful coats of arms that will be decorating the two towers on set.

Olga Frolova; Photo: Olga Frolova

Coming from St Petersburg where she graduated from an art school, she has moved to Munich from France and has been searching for an opportunity to put her painting skills to use, which she has found in Entity Theatre. For Olga it was very inspiring to draw decorations for the Shakespeare play thanks so an amazing atmosphere and enthusiasm surrounding it.

The coats of arms

The coats of arms are inspired by Renaissance Italian sources. Also, we intended to maintain the colour theme of blue and red for the both houses.

You can follow Olga and on facebook! Check it out, you’ll find some cool stuff there.

For our production, we got a lot of inspiration from the Italian Renaissance. While the production team visited Verona last year, we were particularly taken by awe of the magnificent marble we found there. Here you can see Ken nicking the marble slab for Juliet’s tomb…

However, we don’t want to take away too much yet, but we think we came up with a brilliant marble tomb for Juliet as well. Come and see for yourselves!

You can’t look at the Italian Renaissance without being influenced by Leonardo da Vinci, right? This painting, which is attributed to him, shows a young lady with adorable headgear.

Source for Painting

We certainly wanted this one to be taken up in our production, this is our rendition of it, made by one of our costume designers, Marion Schoop:

We think Juliet looks pretty much like the real thing.

And this brings us to our photographer. All the wonderful photos are her work – meet Dora:

Dora Lutz; Photo: Dora Lutz

Photos of rehearsals and performances do have quite a different characteristic. While she can get close, really close to the actors during rehearsals, practically being on the stage with them, she concentrates more on the interaction of the actors with the audience during performance while staying in the background.

When she takes photos of the rehearsals without and then with costumes, she does not only concentrate on the scene rehearsals, but also what happens before and after that. And in between the scenes. She tries to focus as much on the crew and the stage personal, all the ‘background people’ one does not necessarily see during a performance, as much she pays attention to the actors. Because they are all needed. It’s a team effort after all.

She continues: “I do not see my work as art, but as a type of documentation of events, emotions and of a process. How a performance comes to life, what it takes to make it happen.” And yes, it takes a lot of preparation, mistakes, hard times, inappropriate jokes to ease the frustration when it still doesn’t work despite of one’s hard work. And the joy and relief after the first performance, that we made it.

Capturing those moments in a theatre varies quite a lot from the photography she normally does. Her own project usually includes empty spaces, architecture, static surroundings, where she can take her time to figure out the best angle, wait for the most perfect light… All these are not valid in the theatre, if you are not at the right spot with the right settings of your camera, then that was it. You missed it. And you can be absolutely sure, that the actors will never retake a scene the exact same way again, no matter how many times they re-rehearse it. You add to that the outside space, where light is constantly changing, especially on a cloudy day, and you have a six hours up-and-down running ahead of you. And once you’re done, you go home and spend about the same amount of time with post-production as with taking the shots.

This sure was a challenge and still is.

Another challenge is a rather private one. When someone declares that he or she is not photogenic (and someone always does), Dora tries to prove them wrong. Because she believes that every single person has at least one good angle, it’s only a pity that it hasn’t been discovered yet. So she has a couple of weeks to find that angle and steal another person the fear of the camera. “Just like it was stolen from me,” she says.

Want to know more about Dora? Follow her here.

Romeo & Juliet — Week 6

This week’s blog entry focuses on stage management, without which any production would simply be lost. Why? Let’s hear it from this year’s Stage Manager, Jess, and Assistant Stage Manager, Simon.

Jess, who studied Shakespeare during her undergraduate studies at the LMU, knows that Shakespeare can be quite challenging, but seeing the words come to life on stage is simply so exciting and educational.

Jessica McGarry, Stage Manager, checking her notes; Photo: Dora Lutz

Simon still remembers his first encounters with Shakespeare during school, seeing Midsummer Night’s Dream at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, having a great day sitting in the sun watching the play unfold while eating ice cream. It was last year then when he played King Hamlet at Entity’s Hamlet production that his passion for Shakespeare was rekindled. So this year he joined the backstage team. Originally, he thought stage management might just mean to move a few props around and still be part of the production, but without all the work of learning lines etc. “WOW, was I wrong there,” he says, “what I did not realize is how much goes on before and during the production. I really see and appreciate much more the role of the Director and Stage Manager now, and both Conny and Jess in these roles are so dedicated and organized, you just get swept up in the passion and drive that is needed to put something like this on.”

Simon Purslove, Assistant Stage Manager (left), at team meeting; Photo: Dora Lutz

Jess agrees, stage management is a big and important job. Stage managers make sure that the director is able to bring their vision to the stage by facilitating the smooth running of rehearsals and performances. For one, this means making sure that everyone involved is there on time and reprimanding them, if they are not. For another, stage managers coordinate the build-up and striking of the set, as well as the organisation of all props backstage. In addition, a stage manager takes general rehearsal and blocking notes to make sure that any questions about previously rehearsed scenes can be easily answered; it is to keep a record of the production in written form.

Setting up — Simon takes care of the main stage; Jess supervises set-up on the upper stage; Photo: Dora Lutz

So what about this production being outdoors? What specific challenges have you encountered, or do you foresee for the production times?

Health and safety are probably the most pressing issues at the Theatron, Jess emphasises. The stone stairs and stage area, while beautiful to look at, are definitely much tougher than most indoor venues and injuries can happen easily. Additionally, the weather is somewhat of a constant enemy when it comes to outdoor theatre. If it is too hot, frequent breaks in the shade are needed to keep us all from melting into little puddles while even the lightest drizzle of rain can wreak havoc on a neatly written page of notes.

Discussing a scene and getting into character on the Theatron’s stairs; Photo: Dora Lutz

Yes, the weather, Simon joins in, let’s hope the rain holds off for a while now, especially during performances. But luckily the weather has improved, May was simply too wet and cold to rehearse outdoors.

Backstage; Photo: Dora Lutz

We certainly did have a few hot Sunday rehearsals at the Theatron lately, that’s true. So how do we cope? Lots of water, many breaks in the shade and a good sense of humour. It does help though that there is a beer-garden close-by, a neat outlook for refreshment after rehearsals…

Romeo & Juliet — Week 5

This (rather hot!) week was dedicated to character work — and THE scene. Yes, the balcony scene.

Character work includes several aspects:

  • creating a biography for your character (who am I? what do I want? What is my motivation?)
  • specific moods that your character displays (Shakespeare’s characters go through a roller-coaster of emotions, sometimes in one scene)
  • posture, gesture and mimics (showing, not telling)
  • voice — accent, projection, clarity (the three key words: articulate, exaggerate, enunciate)
  • taking and giving: maintaining the energy by offering your partner on stage enough energy so that they can take this energy and continue and thus return it to you or other actors (acting is physically quite exhausting, yes)
  • and of course, director’s favourite: snappiness as far as line-biting and swift entrances are concerned. (I am quite keen on that, yes. Ask the actors…)

The Balcony Scene

Anyone who has read the text will know that there is actually no reference to a balcony in it. The text merely indicates a window as can be seen in Romeo’s lines: “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks” (2.2.2). The balcony, which can be seen below at the Dal Cappello house in Verona, now referred to as Casa di Giulietta, also is not original. While it is argued that it indeed does date back to the time of the Capuletis and Montecchis, it was not originally a part of the Dal Cappello house, but was attached to it in the twentieth century. Why? Because a balcony makes the love story complete. In other words, it attracts tourists.

Capuleti House, Verona; Photo: Conny Loder

Not wanting to break with tradition, we also decided to feature a balcony, albeit it, less bombastic (sorry Capulet!). Our balcony will be the permanently installed upper stage in the Theatron.

Theatron, Upper Stage; Photo: Conny Loder

Now add the Capulet and Montague houses at each side, and Juliet’s bed on the upper stage itself — et voilà, you have a balcony.

Romeo and Juliet; Photo: Conny Loder