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RSC's National Tour of Romeo and Juliet

First Encounters. Image by Joseph Bailey @ Fivesixphotography (c) RSC

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will perform an adrenaline-charged, 90-minute adaptation of Romeo and Juliet in school halls and theatres around the country this year. The 12-week tour across the English regions will perform in more areas this year thanks to a touring grant from Arts Council England.

The RSC First Encounters with Shakespeare productions are aimed at new and younger audiences. Romeo and Juliet is directed by Trybe House Theatre Artistic Director, Philip J Morris using an abridged version of the script edited by Dramaturg, Robin Belfield.

Opening in Leamington on Tuesday 30 January First Encounters: Romeo and Juliet will travel to Northampton, Corby, Norwich, Cornwall, Bradford, Newcastle upon Tyne, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Birmingham, Stratford-upon-Avon, Hull, Nottingham, Stoke-on-Trent and Skegness, during the week of Shakespeare’s Birthday celebrations, before culminating in Peterborough on the 26 April 2024.

Making their RSC debuts. Image by Joseph Bailey @ Fivesixphotography (c) RSC

The cast includes a number of actors making their RSC debuts, including Campbell Wallace and Zensi Alleyne who take on the title roles of Romeo and Juliet respectively. Campbell’s theatre credits include Lord of the Flies (Empire Theatre) and Macbeth (Richard Burton Theatre). As a recent drama school graduate, Zensi’s credits include filmed short Girls will be Girls directed by Isabel Steuble-John. Chloe Fenwick-Brown performs for the RSC for the first time as Benvolio and Dinarte Gouveia takes on the dual roles of Tybalt and Paris. Chloe, who also recently graduated from drama school, appeared in King Lear (West End) and Dinarte’s TV and theatre credits include Doctors (BBC) and Black Swans (Edinburgh Fringe).

Also joining the RSC for the first time, Qasim Mahmood will play both Mercutio and the Prince with Thomas Vernal as Lord Capulet and Friar John. Returning to the RSC is Caitlin Drake in the roles of the Nurse and Lady Capulet. Taking on the role of Friar Laurence, Orlando Wells returns to the RSC for the fourth time.

At each venue, young people from RSC Associate Schools will also have a number of opportunities to get involved. In a reworking of the Prince of Verona’s role, at each venue ten young people will perform as members of the Prince’s counsel alongside the professional RSC actors. Together, the Prince and his counsel, will attempt to restore the peace whilst representing what might happen if young people were also the decision makers. Others will be invited to attend a two-day workshop in Stratford-upon-Avon shadowing RSC technical and production teams as part of the RSC’s Next Generation Backstage talent development initiative. Working alongside and supporting the RSC technical and creative teams, they will then get to put those news skills into practice when the tour arrives at their school or local theatre.

Introducing a new Verona with a nod to old Italy, the modern-day costume and shape-shifting scenery will provide a dynamic, contemporary backdrop for the action. After a chance meeting at a gate-crashed party brings Romeo and Juliet together, the world around them melts away. Then, as they come to realise that a long-standing feud between their two families means they will never be allowed to stay together, they hatch a plan to escape the lives they were born to with tragic consequences. Exploring the pressures of time, conformity and the intensity of adolescence, Morris’s production examines themes of innocence, indoctrination and ignorance.

Following the success of last year’s sell-out First Encounters tour of Twelfth Night, First Encounters: Romeo & Juliet brings Shakespeare’s star cross’d lovers up to date for a new generation of theatregoers.

Preparing for a 12-week tour. Image by Joseph Bailey @ Fivesixphotography (c) RSC

Commenting on the production, Director, Philip J Morris, said: “As relevant today as it was 400 years ago, the play’s enduring appeal lies in its subject matter; from the intoxication of first love to the tension between misguided  allegiances and rebellion. The impulse of youth and pressure to choose sides leads to a loss of life that is a familiar narrative today with youth violence on the rise and record numbers of young people seeking support for their mental health. These are some of the most challenging but persistent issues of our time and we hope that our production can help shine a light on the need to engage in difficult but urgent conversations.”

The show’s creative team includes Philip J Morris (Director), Ebrahim Nazier (Designer), Benjamin Kwasi Burrell (Music), Martin Poile (Casting Director) and Robin Belfield (Dramaturg).


For details and tickets:


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