News from the ESM Players: Romeo & Juliet

It’s been a few busy weeks and we’ve accomplished quite a lot. Let’s start with our poster, designed by the wonderful and talented Clarisse Bourgoin.

As you can see, we stuck with our colour themes red/blue. Soon we can lift the secret as to what these colours designate. Well, you might be able to guess when you see our team photos…

Next, we finished our trailer. Hurrahhh! Taking full advantage of this mild winter, we were able to shoot it at the European School — and mostly outdoors, too. Well done Clémentine Zimpfer, creative adviser for the trailer, and Léa Mayoral who stars at the narrator/Chorus.

And finally, we’d like to present to you our three teams: red, blue and black. Can you guess who’s who?

Team Red — The Montagues

Mercutio is just too stylish in his Hawaii-shirt, how could anyone not want to be his best friend? And Lady M sure knows how to wear sparkle. Benny’s always ready for some good joke, while Romeo is going through a tough time at the moment — Rosaline didn’t text him back…

Team Blue: The Capulets

Did you spot Tybalt’s tattoo? Better not mess with him. And what about Lady C’s makeup? Very eighties, she surely rocks that look. Peter has always been the Hippie in the family, but Lord C doesn’t really care much. Juliet and Nursey are best friends and share all their secrets. Until one day…

Team Black — The Prince, County Paris and the Citizens of Verona

Team Black is all about installing order in Verona. Or, at least, if they can’t do that, marry rich Capulet’s daughter (Paris’ cunning plan), or marry rich Capulet’s daughter to someone different (Sister Laurentia’s cunning plan). The Prince would prefer just a bit of peace occasionally, and not having to use his whistle all the time (guard your ears). Chorus and Co-Director just try to keep the story rolling. Spoiler alert: it won’t be a happy ending.

And then, there is this important prop. To some it’s just a football, to others it’s a dangerous weapon while someone will be biting their thumb at someone else…

What it all has to do with Romeo & Juliet? Stay tuned….

ESM Players & a (colourfully) jolly start into 2020!

What’s new with the ESM Players?

2020 started with lots of colour! In October we announced that we’d channel the two “households both alike in dignity” into two teams: Team Red and Team Blue. And so it has begun: Team Red, the House of Montague; Team Blue, the House of Capulet; and those not clearly aligned with one of the house, constitute Team Black. As we decided to set the play’s background into modern times, we were looking for these three colours that could be visibly worn by all actors. Last week our costumes team handed out some essential items for all actors — highlighting the colour theme of and, of course, adding some bling! So here is the cast, donning their red, blue and black bandanas.

And because bandanas go really well with a bit of bling bling, we weren’t hesitant in adding some jewellery. Here’s a first glimpse of County Paris, sporting his fashionable look. Clearly, all this bling bling convinced Old Capulet that Paris is just the right husband for Juliet.

Since Verona is ruled by a Prince whose loyalties are torn between the two families, we wanted to combine this twist into his costume thus showing off both Team Blue and Team Red.

To add some more sparkle, the mask ball that seals the fates for Romeo and Juliet will also feature some shiny items.

Our tech and props team was working very hard on some cool belt buckles, have a look — isn’t is amazing what one can do with 3D printers?

And what would be more bling than an opulent belt buckle with your initial on it? Correct. This is where our tech experts when to work and designed some Capulet and Montague belt buckles for the actors.

Juliet and Lady Capulet surely fell in love with their bandanas. We think that they look gorgeous in it.

Finally, Benvolio and Mercutio throw in their summary of the play — it fiteth well, we think. Although they seem to have a wee bit too much fun with it… someone needs to remind them that R&J is a tragedy… 😉

Stay tuned for the next update when we introduce our creative team and their plans for the poster design.

ESM Players — Update on Rehearsal Progress

What were we up to in the last two weeks?

We started to work on setting the scene for feuding Verona. The feud between Capulets and Montagues, dating back to ancient times, still sits deep in Verona and affects every citizen, whether they are a Capulet or Montague, or a simple bystander. We have chosen a modern theme for this feud and why it is impossible for Romeo and Juliet to unite in peace, but we don’t want to give away yet which theme it is. One thing however we can announce, it’s Team Red versus Team Blue.

So here are a few sneak peeks from our last rehearsals.

Assistant Director Anna-Maria explains the fight choreography to Malena (Peter) and Anna (Benvolio). This fight-team faces a particular challenge since they are set to work downstage (and close to the edge of the stage), therefore every single step needs to be firmly memorised.

Here you can see Lise (Tybalt) and Malou (Mercutio) in action, while the rest of the cast is trying to learn lines. On a stage with only 2,5×1,5 metres, a fight scene is extra challenging. So our big question was, how can we come up with a fight choreography that is safe for the actors and yet engaging and with an air of menace? The micro-movements that these actors employ are simply stunning. Lise and Mercutio fully embraced the challenge and bring scene 14 (Tybalt accidentally stabbing Meructio under Romeo’s arm) to life. Bravo!

And here we see the actors setting the scene for feuding Verona. Enjoy!

And now to something completely different… when the director isn’t watching… ART!

Romeo & Juliet — Recap while the house was dark

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!

18-21 July

7pm at Theatron, Westpark

Weather update: 0176 52441735