Phoenix Theatre: BackstagePASS
|November 2009 • Act 3 Scene 3|
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In a world still fraught with strife, the Phoenix Theatre presents a provocative interpretation of Romeo & Juliet set in the Holy Land. Director, Brian Richmond comments “Perhaps now, more than ever, we need the great plays of Shakespeare to remind us of just how sad and tragic the consequences of this failure to resolve our differences is to us, and the youth that will inherit the world we have created.”
See below for more about the desert-inspired set design and the Turkish-born designer who brings his experience and innate understanding of Eastern cultures to the design of our Romeo & Juliet.
Behind the Scenes: Romeo & Juliet's set designed from Kerem Çetinel's 'old world' perspective
Shakespeare’s enduring and tragic love story undergoes a provocative change of scenery in the Phoenix Theatre's production of Romeo & Juliet. Director Brian Richmond places his production in the Holy Land, and, through the lens of the many cultures that inhabit this region, brings a politically-charged and universal reading to the themes in Shakespeare’s classic play.
“It's not likely that Shakespeare ever visited Italy...This has led me to believe that what he had in mind ... had nothing to do with drawing a portrait of the enormously creative , yet politically unstable setting of Italian states, but rather an allegory for his own time and equally volatile country." says Richmond.
In my view, the allegory of Romeo and Juliet paints – first a comic, then a tragic – portrait of a society that suffers from its inability to solve its ancient enmities between man and man, and man and women,” says Richmond.
Richmond repositions this allegory into a land that has a tumultuous history of political divisions and cultural differences with the assistance of set designs by department sessional instructor Kerem Çetinel and elaborate costumes designed by professor Mary Kerr.
Born and raised in Turkey, Kerem brings his experience and innate understanding of Eastern cultures to his unique desert-inspired set design. With a stage floor full of desert sand and a backdrop featuring a weathered and war-torn wall, his scenery creates an atmosphere that symbolizes the divided territory.
"It was important for the set to capture a feeling of the old world," says Kerem. "A world that has thousands of years of history making its mark on the land and the people living on it."
He describes this old world feeling conceptually: as layers upon interconnected layers of dirt and dust, covering rich mosaics, encrusted by ancient plaster, chipped by time, changed by different cultures, and covered again by sand. For his set of Romeo and Juliet, Kerem uses light projections of cultural symbols and iconography to illustrate these layers.
"Dusty at first sight, but when you sift through it there are riches of history, religion and traditions that are revealed." says Kerem.
It reveals beauty, but it is also part of the strife that is be found in these regions. Kerem uses a weathered and bullet-ridden wall to symbolize these strifes and the divisions between cultures. "There are many walls in the Holy Land – the seperation wall in West Bank and the ancient wailing wall are just two examples – that stand and represent traditions and beliefs and yet they are physically part of these people's everyday lives."
"Just like the forces that separate Romeo from Juliet, I wanted the backdrop wall of the set to symbolize walls that are errected by traditions and religions and to physicalize these separations."
Mary Kerr's costumes continue this representation of the cultural barriers between the families representing the Montagues as Jewish, the Capulets as Muslims, and the Prince and Friars as Christian representatives of a UN Peacekeeping troupe. Researched and drawn from traditional sources, they offer an abstracted and theatricalized version of their traditional inspirations.
Shakespeare's allegory of a land divided by feuding still resonates today, as the television brings us words images of distant lands locked in decades of strife. Brian Richmond believes, there is still something for contemporary audiences to learn from the great plays of Shakespeare, perhaps now, more than ever.
Upcoming Events: November
November 5– 21: Romeo & Juliet
NOW OPEN: Box Office Open for Romeo and Juliet tickets. Please note there is an alternate cast for some performances. Click here to see the schedule.
November 6 at 7:00pm: Free Pre-Show Lecture
November 27: 2009/10 "Spotlight on Alumni" Call for Submissions
February 18 – 27, 2010: Problem Child
March 18 – 27, 2010: Wreckage
|© University of Victoria 2008|