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ROMEO & JULIET (article first published : 2004-05-12)

Enjoy a crisp autumn evening under the stars while enjoying Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the Pieter Scholtz Open Air Theatre from May 18 to 29.

The Drama and Performance Studies programme at the University of Natal, Durban, in association with First National Bank, will present the FNB Shakespeare Festival in 2004. Following on the enormously successful productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2001), The Comedy of Errors (2002) and Much Ado About Nothing (2003), this year will see a production of Shakespeare’s definitive love story.

This timeless masterful tale is infinitely more complex and layered than being merely a story about the passions of two young people. It is not a sentimental story but an enormously rich tragedy of human passion and responsibility and as much about irrational hatred as unconditional love. It has also become a vivid index of cultural attitudes about romantic love and generational and cultural conflict.

Directors Mervyn McMurtry and Tamar Meskin have produced a vibrant and accessible interpretation of the play. Young adults from Wentworth have been working with the cast, sharing their experiences and stories of gang rivalry. In this version, the households are social rivals – the noveau riche versus the old school tie.

The real tombs of the historical Romeo and Juliet have been unrecognisably defaced by graffiti over the years – not banal scribblings though – instead hundreds of declarations of love in different languages have been scratched into every inch of the tombs. Echoes of these multi-cultural messsages of graffitied love have inspired the set design representing a scared and defaced urban feel.

Bring a picnic and a blanket. A cash bar will be available.

Performances nightly except Monday at 18h00. The Pieter Scholtz Open Air Theatre is situated on the University of KZN’s, Durban campus. Bookings or further information from Claudette Wagner on 031 260-3134 (08h30-13h00 weekdays), fax 031 260 1410 or e-mail wagnerc1@nu.ac.za




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