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Joe Calarco’s hugely successful adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s R&J (1997), receives an inspired and vibrant production on the Brazilian stage. After a long season in Rio de Janeiro in 2011, R & J: Juventude Interrompida (R&J: Youth Interrupted), has been touring Brazil to both critical and public acclaim. Much as Calarco’s concise adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragic love story talks to everyone, the Brazilian rereading is young, astute and accessible, part of director João Fonseca’s project to do Shakespeare “in a simple, more essential way, so as to value even more what is said”.
In the same vein as Dead Poet’s Society, the story is set in the repressed atmosphere of an all male boarding school where four students engage in a clandestine reading of Romeo and Juliet. As the boys express their repressed emotions and passions through Shakespeare’s verse, they start to merge with the roles of the characters in Romeo and Juliet, and the tale blurs the boundaries between reality and fiction. This metatheatrical dynamics allows the actors/students to explore ideas about romantic love, desire, sexuality and repression in both Shakespeare’s time and our own. Punctuated by pop music, the performances are sharp and well choreographed. Blackboards and classroom desks and chairs help create the ideal rigid ambiance for the boarding school. The small circular stage places the audience quite close to the action and provides an intimate setting for the story of the star-cross’d lovers who were doomed to have their “youth interrupted”.
R & J: Juventude Interrompida (R&J: Youth Interrupted) has received the APTR (Associacao dos Produtores de Teatro do Rio de Janeiro) Award for Best Production of 2011 and the Italo Rossi award for best actor (Rodrigo Pandolfo). It has been nominated for best Supporting Actor and Best Play (Italio Rossi Award); Best Play, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Pablo Sanabio) and Best Actor (Rodrigo Padolfo) by the APTR Award; and best Direction by the Quem Award. It appears on the list of ten best plays of the year in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo by Veja Rio de Janeiro and Veja Sao Paulo.
Direction: João Fonseca
Translation: Geraldo Carneiro
Costumes: Ruy Cortez
Setting and Props: Nello Marrese
Lighting: Luiz Paulo Nenen
Soundtrack: João Bittencourt e André Aquino
Choreography: Rafaela Amado
Production: Turbilhão de Ideias Cultura e Entretenimento
Cast: Felipe Lima, João Gabriel Vasconcelos (Romeo), Pablo Sanábio (Friar Lawrence and the Nurse) e Rodrigo Pandolfo (Juliet)
Click here to read Barbara Heliodora’s review of R & J: Juventude Interrompida (R&J: Youth Interrupted)
Click here to visit the production page on Facebook.
Production notes provided by Cristiane Busato Smith
Note: This is the full video