PIETER TOERIEN presents
an ABRAHAMSE & MEYER PRODUCTION of
Directed By Fred Abrahamse
Adaptation: Joe Calarco
Direction, Set and Lighting Design : Fred Abrahamse
Costume Design, Voice & Verse coach: Marcel Meyer
Catholic Consultant: Brother Michael Burke
ABOUT THE PLAY
Joe Calarco’s award-winning Shakespeare’s R&J re-imagines Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers as two adolescent schoolboys in a Catholic boarding school during the 1950s. Their love for one another becomes the ultimate forbidden love in an austere, repressive all male milieu.
Four pupils discover an illicit copy of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and start acting it out in their dormitory late one night. Perceptions and understandings are turned upside down as the fun of play acting turns serious and the words and meanings begin to hit home and universal truths emerge.
Shakespeare’s R&J was first presented by Expanded Arts Inc. New York in September 1997. It then opened at the John Houseman Theatre, New York in March 1998 where it ran for over a year (385 performances) making it the longest running version of Romeo and Juliet in New York. Calarco subsequently staged the play in Chicago, Washington D.C, Japan and on London’s West End. Other productions have been staged with great success across the United Stated, Europe and Australia. The South African première was presented by Abrahamse & Meyer Productions at the 2011 National Arts Festival, Grahamstown.
ABRAHAMSE & MEYER PRODUCTIONS AND SHAKESPEARE:
Abrahamse & Meyer Productions in collaboration with Pieter Toerien, the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, Artscape, The Market Theatre, the Fugard and the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre have produced some of the most successful Shakespeare productions in South Africa. The repertory includes a three-man The Tragedy of Richard III, a four-man Romeo and Juliet adapted by Joe Calarco as Shakespeare’s R&J, a six-man Hamlet and Macbeth and full cast productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Othello. These productions have proved immensely popular with the public, critics, school teachers and learners and have collectively garnered 29 national theatre award nominations. In the last decade, these productions have been presented in 27 different seasons on three continents [Africa, Europe and the USA], in three provinces [Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Gauteng], in eight cities [Grahamstown, Cape Town, Pretoria, Johannesburg, Bucharest, Craiova, Râmincu-Vâlcea and Provincetown] with further tours being set up across Europe and South Africa.
WHAT THE MEDIA HAD TO SAY:
This astonishing production of Romeo and Juliet gives courage to local theatre. ROBYN SASSEN WWW.ARTSLINK.CO.ZA
It is a rather grave, contemplative and unsettling yet compelling reflection on how dangerous and damaging forced conformity can be. CHRISTINA KENNEDY BUSINESS DAY
Brilliant…electrifying…excellent…heart-stopping…This is one of the most engrossing love stories ever to grace a South African stage. MICHELLE EDWARDS CUE
Fred Abrahamse directs in a way which made me realise this story is not about the melodrama of love or about feuding families. It is about the expression of one’s purest passions against all odds. Like Shakespeare that quest is timeless”
ZINGI MKEFA THE SUNDAY TIMES
The production brought a wonderful theatricality to Shakespeare's famous love story. It allowed the four century old words to live in glorious and relevant technicolour. That is what it is all about: a triumphant success!”
MOIRA DE SWART WWW.ARTSLINK.CO.ZA
The balance between comedy and tragedy is brilliantly handled throughout. Abrahamse’s production is captivating.
THYS ODENDAAL DIE BEELD
A most surprising interpretation of the text…this is not Romeo and Juliet as so often seen. Fred Abrahamse and Marcel Meyer are bringing an exciting, raw feel to Shakespeare. ANNETTE BAYNE THE CITIZEN
I found this production to be the most palatable Romeo and Juliet I have ever seen. An impeccably modulated, beautifully designed and passionate production. PETER TROMP THE NEXT 48 HOURS
A well-paced and moving account of an ancient coming-of-age tale. This is Romeo and Juliet as you have never seen it before. CARLY RITZ THE NEW AGE
This unconventional retelling of Shakespeare’s tale is magnificently brought to life by a cast that is an absolute joy to watch. TYRONE AUGUST CAPE TIMES
The production value of Fred Abrahamse’s latest play is beautiful – great lighting and clever props doubling up for necessary accoutrements to suggest schoolrooms and dormitories. THERESA SMITH CAPE ARGUS
WHERE AND WHEN
Pieter Toerien Theatre Montecasino
23rd August - 8th September
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