‘Romeo and Juliet’ portrayed in fashion world

Brett Adkins as Friar Laurence
Brett Adkins as Friar Laurence
Image: SUPPLIED

The Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival is celebrating 50 years since its inception and, to mark its golden anniversary, will be staging the much-loved classic, Romeo and Juliet.

Award-winning actress and director Lesley Barnard is in the director’s seat, while Bennie Gerber, who will also be playing the role of Tybalt, will handle the choreography.  

“This version of Romeo and Juliet will focus on themes of love, intolerance and fashion,” Barnard said.

“We have portrayed the Montagues and Capulets as rival fashion houses.

“We’ve also made a few changes by incorporating some androgynous characters.”

Romeo will be played by Daniel Hamilton and Juliet will be played by Gemma Alicia Barnard.

Other notable local actors also join the cast, with Leslie Speyers as Capulet, Tarryn Light as Nurse and Brett Adkins as Friar Laurence.

The cast consists of actors from different age groups, with the oldest 60 years old.

The play will once more be staged at the Mannville Open Air Theatre in St George’s Park, as  has been the case for the past 50 years apart from  the rare occasions when the venue was undergoing renovations.

The main aspects of the original play by William Shakespeare, the themes and dialogue, have been left intact with a few key twists made to go with the fashion rivalry narrative.

The PE Shakespearean Festival has produced a play every year for the past half a century.

Though considered an amateur society, it  has put on plays directed by many renowned directors, including the late Themi Venturas.

“There’s a good stalwart; the players who’ve been there for a very long time,” Barnard said.

“Some of them still come and work in the park and sometimes, but as we get older it gets more and more difficult.

“We are breeding a new group of young performers to love and understand theatre.

“We started with that last year predominantly, but this year we have a lot of young players who are not necessarily new to theatre, though a lot of them are new to Shakespeare.” Barnard added.

The play will running from March 11-21 at 7.30pm.

Tickets are R80 for adults and R60 for students and scholars, available via e-mail at info@peshakespeare.co.za and at the gate before each performance.

STAGE STALWART: Bennie Gerber as Tybalt
STAGE STALWART: Bennie Gerber as Tybalt
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BELOVED CLASSIC: Tarryn Light as Nurse
BELOVED CLASSIC: Tarryn Light as Nurse
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STAR-CROSSED LOVERS: Daniel Hamilton as Romeo
STAR-CROSSED LOVERS: Daniel Hamilton as Romeo
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LEGEND RETURNS: Lesley Speyers as Capulet
LEGEND RETURNS: Lesley Speyers as Capulet
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ICONIC CHARACTER: Gemma Alicia Barnard as Juliet
ICONIC CHARACTER: Gemma Alicia Barnard as Juliet
Image: SUPPLIED
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