DeBlogs > Tyler Esselman > a-mildly-rehearsed-romeo-and-juliet

A mildly rehearsed Romeo & Juliet

As Shakespeare’s canon goes, it’s been my experience that some of the most divisive opinions about any one of his plays come when discussing Romeo & Juliet. This, I’m sure, is for a multitude of reasons - like the fact that it’s so widely read in high school and it being the prototypical romance. By and large, people either seem to love it or despise it. Full disclosure, I’m a part of the former group.

I’ll unpack exactly why I love it so much in just a sec but what’s got me thinking about the larger role of this particular play is the fact that I am actually going to have the distinct honor of playing Romeo in a production that DePaul’s Mildly Rehearsed Shakespeare Company is putting on in early January. This group is one that just recently came into existence here at The Theatre School. It was spearheaded by MFA Director Lavina Jadhwani and inspired by the Backroom Shakespeare Project, which I’ve written about before. Essentially, Lavina makes a 90-minute cut of a Shakespeare play, casts it, we do a read through on one rehearsal, do entrances, exits, fights, and dances on a second rehearsal and then we put that sucker up. No real scene work and just those two rehearsals. We have someone on book on the night for when we inevitably go up on a line but that’s part of the fun! The idea is to put on these plays in a style very similar to the way they would have been done in Shakespeare’s time. In those days, the concept of the director had not really been conceived and the players would often have less than a week to memorize and prepare the full-length plays. It makes for fast, loose, often hilarious theatre. In September, we did Henry IV Part 1 to get things started. Doing one of the histories was tough and rewarding and we’re excited to tackle one of the Bard’s most well-known plays now. As I prepare, I’m reminded of why I love this particular play so much. Someone recently told me that they believe that people become actors because they love to fall in love with people and be obsessed with them. I think there’s a lot of truth in that. I love being obsessed with things and people in particular. There’s no feeling quite like completely giving your passion to something and this play is the perfect thesis on that particular kind of love. It’s unexplainable and overwhelming and terrifying and makes life worth living. Love will never get old. I’m a hopeless romantic and proud of it.

If you’re in town on January 4th, we will be performing in The Theatre School’s lobby space at 7:00pm. You should join us! It’s going to be a tragically good time.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

Did everyone know about Elbow and just not tell me?? I really can’t believe I didn’t know about this band before this past week. Check ‘em out. They’re rad.