“I think we should direct Romeo and Juliet together” says my bestie Rosalind Johnson. This was not a question but a statement. I don’t know how long ago this was, but now I am counting down the weeks to our fantastic open-air production on the Cathedral Green. Ros has done all the hard grafting with her wonderful team of people behind her – advertising would-be actors to audition, and collaring her friends with wonderful voices to give up their weekends to rehearse with us.
Ros and I have known each other since we were teenagers doing our ‘A’ levels together at Stratford-upon-Avon. We have worked together many times and know each other so well that it’s really easy. We complement each other: when one of us is at a loss to know what to do but realises something is not working, the other will step in. We respect each other’s strengths, and it just simply works.
I am delighted with the 30 or so cast members that we have, some of whom want to go on to be professional actors so are hugely committed. We have an age range of about 46 years which makes the production exciting and unusual, as most theatre productions couldn’t afford or indeed accommodate so many actors.
We are still in the process of blocking Act 2 so we do have a way to go. Our last rehearsal was held outside which is good practice for our ‘players’. Our cast are in the process of understanding their characters (and some of the lines) and learning to fill the space, as it can feel awkward if you are on stage for a while with nothing to say.
We had our first music meeting last weekend, and are lucky to have Harry Johnson composing our music, accommodating my not-so-simple requests with patience. I am delighted to have live music accompany our performances.
We also have the accomplished costumier, Anna Dixon, working with us, who has come up with fabulous designs for our cast. This will give the production a really exciting look, a slightly gothic, modern, contemporary twist to the original Elizabethan dress, which is especially important as we have minimal set and lighting. I am sure that the cast, once in their costumes, will feel more in character and raise their game.
I am determined that our actors will stay in the moment, always be very clear about what is going on and keep the audience entertained for the full 2 hours.
Louise Miller, Co-Director of Romeo and Juliet (photographer above with Ros Johnson, Co-Director)