Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet performance in English, a unique production of TNT/ADGE is scheduled for September 11 in Doorn.
Paul Stebbings, the play’s director, shares with us his view and interpretation for one of the world’s renowned plays.
First, the play details:
Date & time: 11 September, 2009, 14:00 (2 p.m.) and 19:00 o´clock (7 p.m.)
Location: Huis Doorn, Langbroekerweg 10, 3941 MT Doorn. NL. Tel: +31 343 421020. www.huisdoorn.nl
Tickets: price: €18, – for adults and € 9,- for students at Tourist Information Office Doorn:
Tel: +31 (0) 343 412015. Evening box office: +49 172 8629753
American Drama Group Europe (ADGE)
Tel: +49 89 18 909 68 23
Fax:+49 89 18 909 68 28
ROMEO & JULIET: The TNT/ADGE production and approach By Paul Stebbings:
Romeo and Juliet is clearly the best known love story in the world. It has inspired many films, musicals and ballets but the great danger of this mythologizing is that the play becomes obscured by the Myth. Paul Stebbings’ production aims to strip away the influence of the myth and reveal the Shakespearian original in all its glory.
So what is the play not? It is not a story of urban street kids or racial opposites but “Two houses both alike in dignity”. It is not a tragedy because there is no hubris – the lovers commit no sin as every tragic hero from Oedipus to Macbeth or Willy Loman sins. So what is this play?
First of all it is a poem, it constructed like a poem. The sonnet form was wildly popular when Shakespeare wrote the play – so the sonnet runs through the text like no other play. Romeo and Juliet’s first encounter is written as sonnet, so is the end of the play and the form of the sonnet, reconciling opposites in a satisfying end, is part of the structure of the play as it is of all sonnets. So we take poetry into the style of performance and the visual imagery – the real conflict in the play is between powerful poetic images – Love and Death. Cupid is called upon more than any Christian figure, Death haunts the play as a real presence that will “make love” to Juliet. And Death is not just in simple opposition to Love in the great play – Death enhances Love and seals its perfection – the intense love of Romeo and Juliet could not survive ordinary daily life – “Come Death Juliet wills it so!” Cries Romeo early on in their passionate affair. We place Death and Cupid on the stage.
The play is also a comedy – it is full of jokes that most productions ignore, full of comic servants that most productions edit out. We keep them, we revel in the comic life force that Shakespeare uses as a contrast to the spiritual love of the protagonists. A lot of the comedy is earthy and sexual – Shakespeare reminds us that love is both these things. We use simple sets but complex music – real Baroque and Renaissance music sung by the performers and recorded on original Baroque instruments. Shakespeare actually has musicians speak in the play – again they are usually cut – not in our play!
Our setting is historical – so often (especially in Germany) the play is updated to today – but what sense does that make of Juliet’s father forcing her to marry his friend? And what about all the sword fights – must they really be with street knives – there is so much about fencing with swords and words in the play is seem odd to take away the metaphor that Shakespeare so carefully worked into his great drama. And what a shame to take the play into West Side Story jeans and T shirts! Our production is set in Baroque Italy, not a real Italy but an Italy of the imagination – full of Carnival masks, commedia dell’arte, Tuscan pastel walls offset gorgeous Baroque costumes, rapiers flash, Monks chant under Cyprus trees, Dan Juan, Casanova, Vivaldi and a strong espresso are never far away…
The production has already excited a wonderful response from audiences and critics, playing to full houses across Germany and Central Europe. We have just started our 15 month tour that will take us to thirty countries on three (or even four) continents. And why is ROMEO AND JULIET (that is the Real Romeo and Juliet we hope…) so popular – partly, we think, because in a world riven by futile violence the unbearable perfection of this story reminds us how our petty hatreds are so much less than the our potential to love.