SHAKESPEARE's R&J Comes To Pieter Toerien's Montecasino Theatre
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 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.
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