Behind the scenes at Orlando Shakespeare Theater

Director’s Thoughts for “Romeo and Juliet”

Romeo and Juliet at Orlando Shakespeare Theater, January through March 2012.

This 418 year-old play is as contemporary as can be, with hormones coursing through the veins of the lead actors (and pretty much everyone else).

Generally I’m not very interested in updated productions of Shakespeare. I have strived to make this Romeo and Juliet as accurate in period detail as possible. Our actors wear costumes that players in Elizabethan England might have worn to represent Renaissance Italy, and they dance and fight as actors might have on the stage of the Globe.

But I also have no interest in mounting a museum piece. And period lute music just doesn’t induce the thrill and danger I want at the moment Romeo and Juliet first lay eyes on one another – nor does it let me take the audience where I want them to go during Romeo and Juliet’s wedding night!

Time collides and blends: young/old, 1594/2012, and so on… And so I have chosen an anachronistic jolt of popular contemporary music here and there – to make you smile – to get your blood pumping – and to celebrate these lovers’ one and only night together:

    • Have you ever fed a lover with just your hands?
    • Have you ever looked fear in the face and said, “I just don’t care”?
    • Have you ever been touched so gently you had to cry?
    • Have you ever invited a stranger to come inside?
    • Have you ever wished for an endless night?

Thomas Ouellette
Director, Romeo and Juliet 

Thomas directed PRIDE AND PREJUDICE at Orlando Shakes in 2011, and, in previous seasons, ARMS AND THE MAN, I HATE HAMLET, and ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL (co-directed with Jim Helsinger). Recent directorial gigs in San Francisco, Washington, DC, Orlando and Vermont include BLITHE SPIRIT, STOP KISS, EDUCATING RITA, LOBBY HERO, and FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE. Next up, he’ll helm CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival this summer. Also an actor, Thomas appeared as Hysterium in A FUNNY THING… and as Adam in NEXT FALL in the 2010-2011 season at Orlando’s Mad Cow Theatre. A professor of acting and directing at Rollins College, he has appeared onstage and directed shows at the storied Annie Russell Theatre since 1996 (EQUUS, MACBETH, EXTREMITIES, HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE, GROSS INDECENCY, RABBIT HOLE, THE GLASS MENAGERIE, and many others). Thomas was last year’s recipient of the Cornell Distinguished Faculty Award at Rollins.


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