R&J Casting Call

Oct 9 2017 | By More

Student Shakespeare co’s open call for Romeo and Juliet

Edinburgh University Shakespeare Company is to celebrate its tenth anniversary with a large budget, “visceral and shattering” production of Romeo and Juliet in March 2018.

The company has found its production team but is looking to expand its pool of acting talent by opening the casting to non-students. Auditions are this week, Thursday 12 – Saturday 14 with callbacks on Sunday 15.

The company add that it will be hosting workshops by Frantic Assembly (choreographers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), giving stage-fighting lessons and be creating its own original choreography and musical composition.

Direction will be by Finlay McAfee and according to the production notes: “Shifting the action to a modern setting, our vision of Romeo and Juliet seeks to underline the sense that characters have been thrown into a chain of events they cannot comprehend.

“As destiny is the beating undercurrent of the play, we will be incorporating the concept of stars into our lighting design as well as experimenting with theatrical devices to illustrate the mechanism of a ‘greater power than we can contradict’.

“The entire company of actors will be challenged as performers, working together to convey a community fractured by conflict but bursting with youthful energy.”

The production will take place in the first week of March, 2018. Anyone interested in auditioning should sign up for an audition slot through the online form: here. An audition pack is available to download: here (pdf).

Casting Notes

Gender is mentioned here, but the company is open to gender blind casting if the role suits. It will be casting for 20 actors. These character points are, it says, open to alternative interpretations.

Romeo (Male): Romeo is a dreamer and a poet. Often believing he is misunderstood, his lack of filter is somewhat symbolic of the continuous force of his feelings. We are looking for a genuine, as opposed to an immature, Romeo. One that can engage the support of the audience in his quest for a love which fills the emptiness in his heart.

Juliet (Female): Especially thoughtful, Juliet’s persistent introspection and self-awareness can sometimes appear to contrast her high wit and playful nature. Though young, Juliet is in many ways wise beyond her years, and her measured approach must lend conviction and honesty to her relationship with Romeo, capturing the hearts of the audience.

Capulet (Male): Capulet is a volatile soul who jolts between loving father and enraged head of the family. The actor will need to be able to convey both stern authority and occasional vulnerability.

Lady Capulet (Female): Lady Capulet is out of touch with the emotions of her daughter. Being a far from present mother, and having married young, she forces the same fate upon her daughter in a misguided attempt to do what is best for her.

Tybalt (Male): An infamous character, Tybalt carries himself with subtle intensity. He is a predatory figure in the play and his intimidating presence should cool any room he enters. A talented fighter and easily provoked, Tybalt has a blind hatred of the Montagues which proves unshakeable.

Nurse (Female): The Nurse is a ball of comedic energy, who often has an endearing lack of selfawareness. She is a source of support for both Lady Capulet and Juliet. Having raised her from birth, she cares deeply for Juliet and helps arrange her secret marriage to Romeo.

Mercutio (Male): Mercutio is highly charismatic, cocky and wonderfully imaginative. A great friend to Romeo, his witty outbursts should be a joy to watch. He uses his untimely death to launch into a poignant indictment of the feuding houses.

Benvolio (Male): Benvolio has no love of conflict. Indeed, his name means “peace-maker.” At many points in the play he actively tries to defuse the violence, before inevitably becoming caught up in it. The worrier amongst the young Montague boys, Benvolio is always looking out for his cousin, Romeo.

Friar Lawrence (Male): Friar Lawrence is a friend to the misguided youth of Verona and is happy to offer them sanctuary. Although typically played as elderly, in this production our Friar will be a younger man and his cell is as much a community centre as a holy place. Friar Lawrence is naively optimistic and sees the romance between Romeo and Juliet as an opportunity for peace. Intent on healing his fractured community, the Friar’s actions ultimately fail – much to his horror.

Paris (Male): Whilst Paris does not possess the sweeping romantic qualities of Romeo, he is an honest and innocent character. He is only guilty of being completely oblivious to the pain he is causing. Although he is dashingly handsome and polite, Juliet and the audience only have eyes for Romeo.

Escalus (Female): Escalus is the authority figure in Verona who is entrusted to keep the peace between the feuding families, a job which is draining and unrewarding. Although originally a Prince, we will be casting a female Escalus. The actor must have a commanding presence as well as a capacity to demonstrate a leader who has reached breaking point.

Montague (Male): The head of the Montague family, he is worried by Romeo’s melancholy yet unable to determine the cause. Like Lady Capulet, he is another example of a parent who is out of touch with their child. The audience never see Montague directly interact with his son, only his regretful horror at the consequences of his petty war with Capulet.

Lady Montague (Female): Romeo’s mother and wife to Montague, she is the voice of reason that attempts to de-escalate her husband’s irrational frenzy during the opening fight scene. Like Montague, she also shares her concern for her distant son and confides in Benvolio.

Balthasar/Chorus (Male): A young Montague who bears witness to this tragedy, our Balthasar will lead the ensemble and also read as the Chorus to frame the events of the play. In this way, his opening monologue “Two households, both alike in dignity…” becomes a traumatic first-hand account of the devastation which has unfolded in Verona.

Peter (Male): Peter is a servant to Capulet and provides some comic relief with his inability to achieve the most simple tasks.

Sampson (Male): A young Capulet, Sampson talks big and is eager to prove himself a fighter like his older cousin Tybalt. He infamously initiates the action of the play by biting his thumb at the Montagues, which sparks the first street fight.

Gregory (Male): A little more sensible than his friend Sampson, Gregory nonetheless is a key figure in provoking the violence which introduces the first scene. He and Sampson are also members of Tybalt’s entourage.

Abram (Male): A young Montague who quarrels with the Capulets in the opening scene and also joins the Montague boys as they break into the Capulet party. He is the same age as Balthasar and looks up to Benvolio.

Apothecary (Female/Male): Our Apothecary will be the landlord of the flat which Romeo stays in during his exile in Mantua. Poverty leads the Apothecary to sell the deadly drugs to Romeo. This actor will also play the part of a pub landlord in Verona, whose premises in the public square provides the setting for most of the play’s violence.

Friar John (Female/Male): Tasked by Friar Lawrence to deliver the news of his and Juliet’s plan to Romeo, he never succeeds. This actor will also play the part of a local police officer who tries to control the violence between the families.


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