In two teams of four they will share the role of the Chorus with the RSC professional cast, with each team taking part in 3 or 4 performances. The eight young people taking part are from Bradford College, St Bede's and St Joseph's Catholic College and Feversham College, and include Luca Evans (15), Sarah Paley (18), Eleanor Fillingham (14) and Josh Chima (16).
Erica Whyman, the production’s director, said:
“We were bowled over by the impact our tour of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation had on the young people who took part and those who came to watch as we traversed the UK. I want to build on that hugely positive experience, as we stage Romeo and Juliet, opening up a dialogue with young people in schools in ways we have never before been able to do. By inviting these young people to join us on stage I want to celebrate the diverse talent of the UK and highlight the revolutionary heart of this most timeless love story.”
Robin Belfield, RSC Young People’s Performance Developer, said:
“We worked with the Alhambra Theatre and associate schools to choose the young people to take part in this exciting project. We were looking for young people who have a passion for theatre, enjoy the challenge of performing Shakespeare, and are able work collaboratively
within a company of actors.”
The young people will take part in two rehearsals with members of the RSC’s Education team and the Romeo and Juliet creative team. Then, during the week of the RSC’s visit, they will join the professional acting company for a rehearsal on the stage of the Alhambra before they face an audience for their public performances.
Adam Renton, General Manager Bradford Theatres, said:
“The Alhambra is a proud partner with the RSC, Bradford College, and other schools across the Bradford area. The talent of our local young people is astounding and this project provides a wonderful platform to show it off.”
The Associate School’s Programme is the RSC’s partnership programme with regional theatres and schools across England. The ambition of the Associate Schools Programme is to bring about a significant change in the way young people experience, engage with, and take ownership of the work of Shakespeare. Through the programme teachers learn to explore Shakespeare with their students in the way actors do in a rehearsal room, using dynamic, active approaches.
The programme is open to secondary, primary and special state schools in England and the RSC seeks to recruit schools that serve areas of relatively high socio-economic deprivation
Damien O’Keeffe, who leads the work of the Associate Schools programme at Bradford College, said:
“The relationship that we have built up with the RSC over the last two years has provided some fantastic opportunities for young people in Bradford schools. These include the chance to perform at a schools’ festival in Stratford upon Avon and to take part in the recent First Encounters: Comedy of Errors production at the College; but to get the chance to join the company of Romeo and Juliet on the main stage of The Alhambra is amazing. We are proud of our young performers and there is a real buzz around this project. We are looking forward to them showcasing their talents.”
The professional cast in this production of Romeo and Juliet the young people will be working with are: Afolabi Alli (Paris); Donna Banya (Gregory); Stevie Basaula (Sampson); Ishia Bennison
(Nurse); Katy Brittain (Friar John/Apothecary); Raif Clarke (Peter); Beth Cordingly (Escalus); Paul Dodds (Montague); Josh Finan (Benvolio); Karen Fishwick (Juliet); Andrew French (Friar Laurence); Bally Gill (Romeo); Mariam Haque (Lady Capulet); Michael Hodgson (Capulet); Charlotte Josephine (Mercutio); John Macaulay (Cousin Capulet); Tom Padley (Balthasar); Sakuntala Ramanee (Lady Montague); Raphael Sowole (Tybalt) and Nima Taleghani (Abraham).
Romeo and Juliet is directed by Erica Whyman and designed by Tom Piper with lighting by Charles Balfour. Music is by Sophie Cotton and movement by Ayse Tashkiran.