Talking Theatre: Actors Discuss New Production of Romeo & Juliet at Wales Millennium Centre
Citizenship, civil disturbance, conflict. questioning of authority and experts, anger, ugly scenes on the streets, abuse and tragic consequences may be all part of Britain today but as theatre company, Omidaze will display next week at Wales Millennium Centre, many of these topics have been with us for longer than we care to realise.
The company’s new presentation of Romeo and Juliet will combine aerial circus with iambic pentameter and is set to enthral audiences young and old. Andy Howells recently put questions to the shows two stars Connor Allen (Romeo) and Aamira Challenger (Juliet).
Are your roles ones you have longed to play?
Connor: In all honesty, it's not a role I have longed to play as I used to have a real fear of Shakespeare. I always thought it was for well-spoken middle class people, and that I wouldn't fit into a Shakespeare play. The funny thing though, is that my first acting credit after graduating from university was a Shakespeare role.
Aamira: I play Juliet and the Capulet servant. We’re an ensemble of six so most of us play more than one character. I’ve always thought Juliet is a fantastic character; I think she's a bright, compassionate, and brave young girl, however she's a product of her violent environment. She's a such wonderful character, it's a shame that the play doesn't find her in more positive circumstances.
What’s different about this production than any others people will have seen?
Connor: This production incorporates circus and aerial skills into the performance. I don't want to give too much away but there are characters throughout the piece that use aerial equipment, and that combination of Shakespeare and circus skills is something different that many people will have never seen before.
Do you think Shakespeare’s words still have relevance and prominence in today’s society?
Aamira: Absolutely! The warring families in Romeo and Juliet have created a broken society in Verona and unfortunately, it's arguable that many societies in the UK and around the world are broken today; people from all backgrounds are hurting. On the flip side, I’m fascinated by Shakespeare and classical text because of its ability to still make us laugh! This just shows that we’re not so different from people who lived 500 years before us.
Would this presentation be a good introduction to the work of Shakespeare?
Connor: Definitely! It opens the door to Shakespeare for children. It gives them a clear understanding and that hugely helps when watching and experiencing Shakespeare. As the show is targeted at children as young as seven, our clarity and direction as actors and story tellers has to be on point. For many children and adults, this may be their first experience of a Shakespeare production so the last thing we want to do is put them off.
- Romeo and Juliet runs at Wales Millennium Centre from April 27 to May 14. For ticket details visit wmc.org.uk
- Andy Howells is a freelance entertainment writer who regularly contributes to the South Wales Argus entertainment section The Guide. Follow Andy on Twitter @EntsSouthWales and on Instagram @retrospaceandy