Last week I joined a drama group yrs 9 and 10 from Willows High school, Cardiff at a special workshop and rehearsal session with Omidaze Theatre Company who are preparing a new production of Romeo and Juliet. It was a rare privilege to witness the company’s process and the evolution of each character during just one short, intense scene.
But what was equally impressive was that the actors’ concentration and focus, was matched in the room by the pupils watching. We had some laughs and there was audience participation but mostly there was total absorption as we were all gripped by the tension and drama of the scene.
Romeo & Juliet Workshops and the performances with Omidaze Theatre Company are suitable for pupils from year 5 upwards.
During the morning as I spoke with Yvonne Murphy, director of Romeo and Juliet and Artistic Director of Omidaze Theatre her passion for bringing theatre and Shakespeare in particular to new audiences was clear. (See also Yvonne interviewed by Setting the Scene) This production of Romeo and Juliet is not only be priced to be accessible to the widest possible audience it is pitched to grip and resonate with the contemporary and young viewer.
Last Wednesday those pupils from Willows High school developed an understanding and an insight to the context of Romeo and Juliet and life as an actor that they will not forget.
Omidaze uses the tools of theatre to empower young people to develop their voices and opinions for themselves, to be able to present them and have their say in their own future. In other words, to have the means to shape their lives for themselves as Romeo and Juliet did not.