"Romeo & Juliet - Thando & Ruvhengo"
Manchester & Zimbabwe
Three companies, Feelgood, Siyaya Arts, and Over the Edge trail blazed a brilliant new production to reflect a contemporary Commonwealth.
Romeo & Juliet was performed in Zimbabwe and The Dancehouse, Manchester as part of the Commonwealth Games Festival: Cultureshock.
In 2002 Feelgood travelled from Manchester to the townships of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe to create this unique and innovative show. They brought together artists with a phenomenal range of skills to share artistic ideals, forge long-term working relationships and above all celebrate cultural diversity and identity.
In October 2001 the artists gathered in Manchester and began the creative planning and writing. Dances, songs, new writing and methods were explored, working friendships established and most importantly putting the focus clearly on the artists to share creativity, not to politicise, nor turn R & J into ‘melting pot’.
The artists as individuals all started from the same point, using Pablo Casal’s poem ‘Reflections’ to create a show that reflects the brilliant mosaic of talent that can be accessed by all, regardless of age, culture, tribe, sex. Then off to Bulawayo to rehearse the piece fully, opening there, then Harare and to the Dancehouse in Manchester amid the excitement of ‘The Cultureshock Festival’.
The Artistic Team:
Siyaya Arts, a group of 15 artists based in Bulawayo, are committed to creating original theatre that is educational, entertaining and thought provoking. The work produced combines both traditional and new techniques and fuses movement, dance, mime, poetry and music. They possess a raw, collective energy which percolates through a range of dramatic performance and have won the hearts of many with their incredible friendliness and exuberance. By exploring and exploiting the common ground and significant differences Siyaya aim to produce a single and accessible form of vigorous and original theatre.
Over the Edge was born on the pavements of Harare in 1994 and have gone from strength to strength since then to establish a reputation for their “off the wall” up-beat comedy, charming audiences at home and abroad with publishes texts and original local material that often puts Zimbabwean life in the spotlight. Over the Edge is committed to performing professional theatre that primarily entertains, yet at the same time reflects and often parodies our socially complex lives. The cross section of races within the group lends itself to a balanced view of contemporary Zimbabwe, though race issues are not the primary concern of the company. The group continues to work against cultural misunderstanding and aims to stimulate free thought, striving towards a fresh, immediate and progressive style of Zimbabwean theatre.
“A packed house of all ages gave an ecstatic reception to this high energy production… worthy of the West End...” - The Stage
“If ever a production should tour the country, this is the one. It’s a powerful, innovative way of experiencing Shakespeare; a lesson in portraying the bard to 21st Century audiences. Schools and theatre audiences will be equally energised by this rhythmic, exciting, production...” - Manchester on Stage
“...it was an impressive and outstanding fusion of cultures and dance and the theatrical presentation breathtaking...” - The Sunday News, Bulawayo
“...The play is given a modern touch but never loses its original appeal. The singing is so powerful and effective that even after leaving the play you want to hear more...” - BBC Online