UNC News Release
For immediate release: Sept. 6, 2007
Note: Director Davis McCallum will discuss the
play at noon on Wed, Sept. 19 in the Paul Green Theatre.
Passion, feuds ignite PlayMakers’ fiery “Romeo and Juliet”
CHAPEL HILL – Love. Heartbreak. Revenge. After 400 years, the star-crossed lovers in William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” still fire the collective imagination.
PlayMakers Repertory Company, the professional company in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will bring the Bard to life Sept. 26-Oct. 14 with a romantic, fast-paced and vivid rendition of this timeless classic.
Show times will be 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays in the Paul Green Theatre, inside the Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road.
“‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a play about first love, but it’s also a play about a community, a polis or civilization, that is pulling apart at the middle, split into two warring factions,” said Davis McCallum, guest director.
The Capulet and Montague feud propels the young lovers towards disaster with some of Shakespeare’s most lyrical, extraordinary poetry. Each generation can find a parallel, whether Hatfield and McCoy, Protestant and Catholic, Hutu and Tutsi, or Sunni and Shia.
Rather than set the play in the traditional Renaissance, McCallum and the designers created a world based on that Italian period, but filtered through a modern sensibility. Both the set and costumes use the contemporary and ancient to create a fresh, sensual mix in a setting that is an abstract representation of Shakespeare’s Verona. This “Romeo and Juliet” will plunge with abandon into the heady, impulsive rush of first love. No matter how well audiences know the story, the vigor, passion and honesty of the performers is a powerful draw, McCallum said.
Of striking historical note, exactly 20 years ago PlayMakers opened its 1987-88 season with “Romeo and Juliet.” That production featured a specially constructed, permanent festival deck in the Paul Green Theatre that has served as the stage since that time. The production also featured a graduate acting student named Joseph Haj as Mercutio. Now producing artistic director of PlayMakers, Haj programmed “Romeo and Juliet” as his first mainstage play, bringing audiences full circle to an enduring work that continues to speak loudly about community and renewal.
Director McCallum’s credits include “Jane Eyre,” “The Turn Of The Screw” and “Unbound: The Journals Of Fanny Kemble” for the Acting Company in New York, Quiara Hudes’ “Elliot: A Soldier’s Fugue” for The Culture Project (Pulitzer Prize finalist), “West Moon Street” for Prospect Theater Company and “The Belle’s Stratagem” for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. After “Romeo and Juliet,” McCallum will direct the world premiere of Chuck Mee’s “Queens Boulevard” for the Signature Theater Company in New York.
“It’s a great play to do with a permanent acting company, which means that PlayMakers is one of the few places in the country where this kind of ensemble work is possible,” McCallum said. “I hope this production can capitalize on one of PlayMakers’ greatest assets — an acting company which is far more than the sum of its parts.”
The production team includes Olivera Gajic (costumes), Scott Bradley (sets), Matthew Richards (lighting), Ryan Rumery (composer) and Michèl Marrano (sound).
Tickets are $10 to $40. Special events include free post-show discussions on Oct. 3 and 7 and an all-access performance for those with special needs on Oct. 9.
For information about tickets and subscriptions to PlayMakers’ 2007-2008 mainstage season and the PRC² second stage series, call (919) 962-PLAY or visit www.playmakersrep.org. Based in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, PlayMakers is the Carolinas’ oldest resident professional theatre company. The Drama League recently named PlayMakers one of the “best regional theatre companies in America.”
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Coverage note: Media are welcome to cover the preview and talk by director Davis McCallum at noon Sept. 19. Photography, videography, lights and flashes are not restricted. For additional assistance, call (919) 621-1230.