While we had a short break, some of the actors and the producer got together and thought about the current production.
Maybe we should explain first why we chose Romeo & Juliet. Romeo & Juliet is a gorgeous play. It has several elements in it that the audience can relate to: teenagers falling in and out of love, generational conflicts, jealousy, friendship, quarrels… Everyone knows the story, and we wanted to tell it in our very own way. How do you feel about it? Is Shakespeare still relevant today to you?
Ken Lawler (Producer and Set Design): Yes, of course Shakespeare is still relevant today! His characters are relatable, the complexity of the human nature hasn’t changed much in the last 400 years or so and Shakespeare’s themes and motifs are timeless and as such still very much relevant today.
Sara Brandt (Romeo): Absolutely! Shakespeare’s drama and comedy are timeless, and Romeo and Juliet is one of the most enduring plays for a reason.
So Sara, you have played several female lead roles (Rosalind and Lady Olivia), how is it to play a man? (asks the director with a grin on her face)
Sara: Not too different, really. The role of Romeo is pretty action-packed. Dancing, kissing, climbing balconies, multiple choreographed sword fights and death by poison. But even harder than the action is the truly profound sadness that Romeo experiences. When Romeo promises to stay with Juliet forever, I often find myself crying for real.
Maria, how about you? What challenges did the role of Juliet bring to you?
Maria Binica (Juliet): Juliet goes through an emotional roller coaster throughout the play. In only one scene, she can change from being hopelessly in love, to cursing the heavens. She matures very fast and I think this is one of my biggest challenges, to present these emotional changes and her development, from a child to a woman.
What about the others – John, Jennifer, Claire and David, what brings you to theatre?
John Yates (Capulet): I have been actor, director and writer. Everything I`ve done in the way of acting, has been with Entity. They are 20 years old, and I was there virtually at the start.
Jennifer Mikulla (Lady Capulet): I´ve always loved theatre, to act in one of Shakespeare´s play is the dream of every actor and thanks to Conny, I have fulfilled my dream 5 times over.
During my time with Entity, I have played many roles, most recently I was the chair of the Entity FEATS committee. FEATS being the four-day international theatre festival which Entity hosted for the first time in Ottobrunn this year.
David Hall (Montague): For me, working together with others is the main attraction – the team effort.
Claire Middleton (Lady Montague): Being now retired, I decided I wanted to do something with people and to have fun. I always had a problem with public speaking and I decided it was time to get over it. I am not over it but it doesn’t seem to be so important anymore, because I have found my talent for costume making!
We love our Theatron, but it bring about particular challenges, doesn’t it?
Ken: Well, outdoor theatre is how Shakespeare did it, so we try to live up to this. Since we set up and strike the set for every rehearsal and performance, it must be built in a way that this can happen quickly enough and yet it must convey the idea of the real place, in our case, Verona.
Sara: Since we don’t use microphones, it’s a constant challenge just to be heard. We have to be louder than the beer garden, the children playing nearby, dogs barking, airplanes flying overhead…
John: Yes, getting the correct volume is always a problem. I love the “sweet spot” though, where you get the echo of your own voice. It disturbs tremendously, but is fascinating none the less.
Maria: Outdoor theatre — you never know what to expect.
David: Especially with the weather, it is always an unscripted participant. We spend a lot of time looking at the sky with furrowed brows.
Claire: My main challenge is getting my voice loud enough as well as coordinating with the other actors. Perhaps the biggest challenge for me is keeping the time when beating the drum for the dance in scene 7!
All in all though, the Theatron in Westpark is ideal. The acoustics are good, it is situated in a peaceful, but not too secluded spot and there is a beer-garden close-by that helps us to refresh after rehearsals.
Another question. How does one learn such a big amount of lines – and remember them? Any tips for other actors?
Maria: I needed first and foremost to understand the true meaning of my words and the emotions behind them.
Sara: My approach is to make a recording of the other character’s dialogue, with pauses for my lines. Then, I play the recording and ‘talk back.’ I hope my upstairs neighbours don’t think I’m crazy, shouting and crying at a recording of myself!
John: I have less this year than last, but I think a greater range of emotions, which is no easier than having to learn the text.
David: Yes, repetition carves it into your memory, until the next production, of course.
Jennifer: In short: practise, practise, practise.
And now, let’s hear it from our cast — why should the audience come and see this production?
John: `Cause it is very good. Everyone knows the story, but how it comes to life is always different.
Maria: The outdoor scenery, our beautiful costumes and the set pieces transform the Theatron into 16th century Verona, where people speak in verse, they fall in love and out of love, dance at parties and then fight with swords.
Sara: Absolutely, come for the fight scenes! We have an amazing cast this year, and we have SIX sword fights with NINE different actors.
Jennifer: Audiences can expect to see a colourful production and a lot of insult slinging, kissing and murder. What more can you ask for?
All this is true, and after all: for never was a story of more woe, than this, of Juliet and her Romeo.
William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet
Four more shows!
7pm at Theatron, Westpark
Weather update: 0176 52441735