ESM Players — Safety first.

Romeo & Juliet is a fight-laden play. There are three scenes in which fights take place, one scene that features a fake death and, we thought, why not add another one? So we will initiate the production with an unusual scene that is not originally part of R&J (albeit it, it is originally by Shakespeare, we promise!).

Our actors have a lot of fun with their theatre daggers, but before they may use them to rehearse the fight choreographies, they rehearse with rather unusual items. Anna-Maria, AD, is very keen on having the actors be comfortable with their movements and blocking before she hands out the theatre daggers. She explains that first she has the actors dry rehearse in slow motion, to emphasise and set blocking. Then they get their ‘replacement daggers’ — and since everyone shows up with their school utensils, what better to use than good-old highlighter pens. Only when neon-green and neon-pink have made it safely into the choreography, will Anna-Maria hand out the real props. And this we do every single rehearsal. We’re not there yet, but with the coming months ahead of us, by March it will look quite like the real thing.

Here’s a sneak peek of Tybalt (Lise) and Mercutio (Malou) — in slow-motion. The bags around the two actors, you ask? Well, you need to get the actors used to the proper stage dimensions of Galli Theater.

Video: Anna-Maria

Reminds you of something? Monty Python and The Holy Grail?

ARTHUR: Look!

BLACK KNIGHT: Just a flesh wound.

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!

ESM PLAYERS — WEEK 2: Play and casting announcement

This week caused a bit of a stir among the ESM Players!

To Shakespeare, or…?

In the last years, team ESM Players has brought two of Shakespeare’s major tragedies from the page to the stage (Richard III and Macbeth), exploring how kings and queens strive and how they fail, how private decisions thwart the course of politics, how fleeting a moment can be and how desperate we often cling to exactly those fleeting moments. They also explored enchanted woods, fairies and elaborated on Bottom’s dream, and last year they took the complete works to stage (well, sort of, anyway). It was thus about time for teenagers to claim Shakespeare, his language and a story that is about them. No kings, no queens — but teenagers: young, untamed, ready to make their world a little better. Can you guess, which play it is?

The play’s the thing: why theatre matters.

Theatre is about all of us. And so is this play. Hailed to be the iconic play about true love, Romeo & Juliet is a play about our emotions: falling in love, falling out of love, quarrelling, rebelling against parents or authority, challenging or being challenged by peers, eating your greens… Ok, perhaps not quite about the last one, but how much more can a student theatre group ask for?

But it’s old-fashioned, boring!

I hear you. But that means you probably haven’t read closely enough and not had a chance to taste Shakespeare’s words. Taste again. Look again, allow the language to guide you, let us on your imaginary forces work. And work we will, we have set the play into a modern context, thus translating it into a feud that is very close to us and will make it all the more plausible, why Juliet’s and Romeo’s fates are indeed star-crossed. Which context exactly we have chosen, psssss! This remains a secret for a while, but we’re sure, you’ll have a ball with it once you see it. (Uh oh, hidden clue.)

The Casting: lead actors

Meet Laura: Juliet Capulet

Laura has been with the ESM Players for several years and starred in many different roles. This year, she’ll take on the play’s tragic heroine — she can’t wait to give Romeo a pep talk from that balcony!

Meet Anna-Lena: Romeo Montague

This is Anna-Lena’s first year with the ESM Players. She has vast stage experience from other theatre companies and is ready to don some pants this year.

Meet the rest of the cast in the following weeks. We can’t wait to present Romeo & Juliet to you. This play is for you.

Hier bin ich Mensch, hier darf ich’s sein!

Greetings from the ESM Players 2019/20!

It’s September — which for some means autumn is around the corner. For others it means that the ESM Players get together and don their costumes for the next Shakespeare show. So, let us introduce you to this year’s Team Shakespeare!

Those who have followed us for the last four years will spot some familiar faces. This year’s Assistant Director will be Anna-Maria (top, left corner), who has been the ESM Players ever since they had their humble beginnings. And back then they weren’t even called the ESM Players. So, good to have you back on the team!

We also welcome many other familiar faces — and many new ones. Welcome to the ESM Players family.

We will post weekly updates from our Shakespearean Journey, and next week we will announce our play and, of course, the casting. Stay tuned! We’re looking forward to entertaining you with another great Shakespeare show in March 2020.

Follow us on facebook and at #esmplayers.

May the Bard be with you. And us.

Romeo & Juliet — Farewell & Thank You!

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,
And the continuance of their parents’ rage,
Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

Photos: Tom Hafner

Photos: Dora Lutz

A glooming peace this morning with it brings.
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head.
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things.
Some shall be pardoned, and some punishèd.
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

And farewell friends, thus R&J ends…

Thank you, everyone, for making this happen — and a big THANK YOU to our great audience!

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

Romeo & Juliet — Impressions from first week performances

Pre-show backstage, discipline — warmup — getting into character and last instructions by directors and stage-management. Of course, everyone’s primary question is — how many members are in the audience tonight?

Photos: Dora Lutz

And then the magic moment happens, three drum beats announce the beginning of the play: the moment when audience and actors become accomplices. This is the beauty of outdoor theatre, where there is no fourth wall – no place to hide, all in the open.

Photos: Dora Lutz

And yet, despite the vastness of the venue, there are intimate moments, which create an experience for both, actors and audience, in a unique emotional way.

Photos: Tom Hafner

And who says that Shakespeare is for adults only?

Photos: Dora Lutz

And then there is, of course, the relief afterwards — after a 95-minute-iambic-pentameter marathon of emotional rollercoaster, physical workout and worrying looks up to the sky hoping for the weather gods to spare us the rain tonight, after all this and much more — nothing says “Yes, we did it!” better than a cold drink. Cheers.

Photos: Dora Lutz