A new twist of love

L'Hebdo Journal - Cités Nouvelles - - ACTUALITÉS - RUBY IRENE PRATKA

Since the first known per­for­mance of Sha­kes­peare’s Ro­meo and Ju­liet in 1597, the clas­sic love sto­ry has been per­for­med around the world, trans­la­ted in­to do­zens of lan­guages and adap­ted in­to count­less bal­lads, ope­ras, TV and film pro­duc­tions and adap­ta­tions, the best known of which is 1961’s West Side Sto­ry.

For the 30th an­ni­ver­sa­ry of Re­per­cus­sion Theatre’s Sha­kes­peare in the Park, the Mon­treal-ba­sed com­pa­ny has ta­ken up the chal­lenge of put­ting a new twist on the sto­ry of the star-cros­sed lo­vers. In Ro­meo & Ju­liet : Love is Love pre­sen­ted Baie-D’Ur­fé and Bea­cons­field, a band of tra­vel­ling ac­tors is tas­ked to per­form Sha­kes­peare’s fa­mous play re­pea­ted­ly un­til so­cie­ty fi­nal­ly learns that hate not on­ly des­troys the sub­jects of its loa­thing but al­so the che­ri­shed..

The play’s sub­title echoes a slo­gan used by the pro-same sex mar­riage mo­ve­ment in Ca­na­da and the Uni­ted States. Ro­meo and Ju­liet them­selves are both played by fe­male ac­tors.

"I knew I wan­ted to do Ro­meo and Ju­liet and not do it in a tra­di­tio­nal he­te­ro­nor­ma­tive way," says Re­per­cus­sion Theatre ar­tis­tic di­rec­tor Aman­da Kel­lock, in a brief interview bet­ween two halves of an all-day re­hear­sal. "That kind of ins­pi­red me to do a gen­der-blind cas­ting call and look at the play in a new way."

POINT OF VIEW

"The way the world conti­nues to change in­forms how we see these plays," says Kel­lock, a ve­te­ran ac­tress who be­came di­rec­tor of the theatre com­pa­ny in 2015.

"When we did Ju­lius Cae­sar [in 2016] for example, it was im­pos­sible not to think about what was going on with the US elec­tion at that time. We didn’t adapt eve­ry­thing as if it was hap­pe­ning there, but it made us hear the play dif­fe­rent­ly. Seeing Ro­meo and Ju­liet through a gen­der-blind, queer lens is ma­king us hear the play dif­fe­rent­ly."

The play’s ap­proach pre­sents and in­tri­guing mir­ror image of the Eli­za­be­than prac­tice of ha­ving men play fe­male parts. "Any play is just a blue­print for a pro­duc­tion," says Kel­lock. "I think [Sha­kes­peare] would get a kick out of our pro­duc­tion. In Sha­kes­peare’s time...Ju­liet would be a boy dres­sed as a girl and the au­dience would have been aware ; there would have been a real­ly fun ti­tilla­ting as­pect to two young men kis­sing, al­though one of them was dres­sed like a girl. Our in­ter­pre­ta­tion is just ano­ther in­car­na­tion of this playing with iden­ti­ty."

The play it­self is about two people who fall in love when they’re not sup­po­sed to and the fact that so­cie­ty has no room for their love. "I think we still have ins­tances in so­cie­ty where people aren’t al­lo­wed to love who they love, and love de­serves to have space. That’s the most im­por­tant thing to take away from this play," Kel­lock says.

TOUR

For the com­pa­ny’s 30th an­ni­ver­sa­ry, they are ta­king Ro­meo & Ju­liet : Love is Love on a 30-stop tour around the re­gion, in­clu­ding a date in Knowl­ton, in the Eas­tern Town­ships, and th­ree stops in sou­theas­tern On­ta­rio.

French sub­titles will be avai­lable, for the third conse­cu­tive year, through a smartphone app.

The out­door pro­duc­tions are held rain or shine, can­cel­led on­ly in case of hea­vy rain or thun­ders­torms. In­te­rac­tive work­shops for kids and teens will pre­cede some per­for­mances.

Ju­ly 5, 7 p.m., Fritz Farm

(20 477 La­ke­shore Dr., Baie-D’Ur­fé).

Au­gust 3, 4 p.m., Cen­ten­nial Park (288 Bea­cons­field Bd., Bea­cons­field).

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