Shakespeare’s R&J
By Joe Calarco

A school, four boys, a smuggled copy of Romeo & Juliet, a secret enactment – Pieter Toerien presents an Abrahamse & Meyer Production of Shakespeare’s R&J.

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.

Directed by Fred Abrahamse, with Matthew Baldwin, Dean Balie, Jeremy Richard, Tailyn Ramsamy, Shakespeare’s R&J will run at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre from 23 August – 8 September.

When 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. 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.

Adaptation: Joe Calarco
Direction, Set and Lighting Design: Fred Abrahamse
Costume Design, Voice & Verse coach: Marcel Meyer
Catholic Consultant: Brother Michael Burke