No auditions, no rehearsals, no director, no money exchanges hands, no themes. The actors whom would like to be involved in the show email Facsimile productions and then are allocated roles and sent edited scripts. Then nobody involved sees another person involved until 90 minutes before the night of the 1st show. The actors are told to bring whatever props they need and wear whatever they like.
Those are the rules for ‘Guerilla Shakespeare’, of which you are handed a copy of as soon as you declare yourself present to witness the show.
As soon as I read the rules, I thought, “Oh no, here we go, this is a recipe for disaster”. It was far from a disaster. It was really enjoyable, exciting, heart-warming, and chaotic.
It was storytelling, pure and simple story telling. Romeo and Juliet was not clouded by some pretentious directors ‘vision’, the show was not beat to the ground and now stale from weeks of analysis, rehearsals, and arrogant upstaging ‘professional actors’. It was people, getting together, to tell a beautiful story. Not for money, but for their love of Shakespeare- and their passion for the Bard really shines.
The fact that they had no rehearsals prior to their opening night meant that the actors needed to create how they told the story right in front of you. It was like watching a painter create his landscapes, it was exciting. A scene that sticks out for me is when Romeo and Juilet meet and fall instantly in love, the stage is very busy- opposing family members dance near each other while a musician entertains. Obviously the actors had no idea what to do outside of what Shakespeare gave them in the script, so when everyone was on stage and the musician started playing guitar/harmonica- everybody danced. Not choreographed form, not ‘acting’ dance, but just simple dance- the people on stage were actually enjoying themselves!
And like watching a child eat ice cream for the first time, I laughed, loved and had one of those moments when you know life is worth all the world’s stresses. In this moment of pure bliss I began imagining an early society whose Friday nights were spent telling stories around the fire, creating plays just for each other- enjoying music together, just to enjoy music and I was overwhelmed with a sense of community, my heart full and fulfilled. Passion. Guerilla Shakespeare’s showing of Romeo and Juliet was passion for me, pure passion.
In the words of Pony Boy, “Nothing gold can stay”. They will run into problems and I’m not even sure if 4 stars is appropriate for the show because what I witnessedwill never happen again. It was ephemeral, transient, and entirely circumstantial
The 4 stars stays as my rating because there is no second performance this time and when Facsimile Productions decides on their next Guerilla Shakespeare piece, it will be sure to be a great night. If you are in the mood for some passion… Until next time!
Performed at the Roundhouse.