Live theatre is never static. From its early rehearsal days to its grand opening and subsequent run of performances, the life of a show evolves. How do the actors keep each performance fresh, while honouring the director’s vision? The Education Department has asked some actors from this season’s production of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Tim Carroll, to share with us their experiences and discoveries while rehearsing and performing the play.
Skye Brandon plays Benvolio in this season’s production. He shares with us some of his behind-the-scenes experiences during the run of Romeo and Juliet.
by Skye Brandon
We are now nearing the end of the 2013 season and I’m finding it hard to believe how far our Romeo and Juliet has come since we started rehearsals back in late February. I don’t know that I’ve ever been part of a show that has remained as faithful to the director’s vision, while at the same time grown in leaps and bounds.
One of the biggest changes we had to deal with was the loss of our Lord Capulet. The very talented Scott Wentworth ended up taking on the role of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice when Brian Bedford had to step out for health reasons. For a number of weeks Scott was getting his Shylock ready while still playing Capulet as well as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. You could see the fatigue wearing him down. So eventually the decision was made to release Scott from Romeo and Juliet, which meant Wayne Best took over as Capulet, Robert King became Montague and André Morin became Abraham. There is no doubt in my mind that we were able to make that transition so easily because of the rehearsal process we had with our director, Tim Carroll. He told us, and reminded us throughout the season, that although he gave us specific guidelines in how to approach the text, he still wants us to keep exploring and ultimately have fun while we do it. That approach has prepared the ensemble for anything.
And we have been having fun performing this show, despite the fact that it is a tragedy. No two shows are exactly the same. For me personally, I’ve had a couple of performances where I changed my entrance (when I knew it wouldn’t affect the previous scene); and I had the realization just over halfway through our run that during Capulet’s feast we could ask any lady to dance. We all learned the same choreography, so what was to stop us from asking someone different to dance each show? Something as simple as changing dance partners has prevented that large group scene from becoming automatic. We honestly don’t know how the dance is going to end up.
And there has been nothing automatic about the scenes either. It may not seem different to audience members who have seen the show more than once, but actors are continually exploring the text and trying slightly different approaches to the delivery. All while honouring Tim’s direction.
This production has been an absolute pleasure to be in. It could be a very long time until I get another chance to be a part of a true ensemble.
Want to read more?
Daniel Briere plays Romeo in this season’s production of Romeo and Juliet. He shares with us his first-day experience of being on the “Tanya Stage,” and the various exercises involved in understanding the power of the narrative and the importance of connecting with the audience and his fellow actors. Click here to read his full blog.