Amanda Kellock has been launching sorties on the Bard’s borders since becoming the artistic director of Repercussion Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park in 2015.
Gender and race have been fair game over the last three years, and she’s at it again with Romeo and Juliet, coming to Knowlton’s Lion’s Park, July 14. Reached during rehearsals recently, she confirmed the rumour: Romeo and Juliet are both played by women, Shauna Thompson and Michelle Rambharose, respectively.
“Expect a fantastic story. As we rehearse, we’re reminded of just how good a story it is – smart, funny and passionate. We’re exploring the theatricality of it, as people have
been doing for 400 years, and will continue doing till they get it right.” Repercussion Theatre has been working in that very direction for 30 years.
Kellock arrived at the modestly startling decision to mess with the sexes when she took gender out of the equation during auditions. “Remember, the lovers were kept apart not because of their gender but because of family.”
Of course, back in the day, men played all the roles in Shakespeare’s plays, so Kellock may really just be claiming parity, though this is, in fact, a gay version of perhaps the definitive romantic tragedy.
“We are pushing the boundaries of what is possible, but productions have been doing that forever.” Two vastly different filmed versions are mentioned – Franco Zeffirelli’s operatically romantic Romeo and Juliet in 1968, and Baz Luhrman’s 1996 Romeo + Juliet, a street-wise rock video romance.
Given the usual safe, crowd-pleasing formula applied to summer stock, Kellock is amazed “just how ready audiences are for change. It’s a testament to how they have grown up with us.”
Kellock herself first encountered Repercussion Theatre as a kid in the audience. She began acting with them in 2004, before ascending to the top job, staging the greatest plays in the history of the English language for people on lawns everywhere.
To celebrate, they are playing 30 shows this summer – 10 actors, 10 on the creative team and many invaluable people behind the scenes mounting 30 shows for the 30th anniversary. The Bard himself would have approved.
Repercussion’s Shakespeare in the Park comes to Lion’s Park in Knowlton, July 14.
For more information on the production, go to: repercussiontheatre.com