Nature Theater of Oklahoma [New York]

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet

16.10 – 18.10.2008

Was there any sex in it, or not?

Last season Kaaitheater presented work by the New York group Nature Theater of Oklahoma for the first time. For No Dice the directors Pavol Liska and Kelly Copper made an absurd compilation of telephone conversations. From these snatches it became painfully and amusingly clear how we are not able to make a good, coherent story of our own lives.

This season the group will present two well-known stories: Rambo: First Blood (watched by millions of people all over the world and flogged to death in countless sequels) and Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s most popular play. 

In the actors’ attempts to retell the stories accurately, mistaken memories and details, half of which are pure fantasy, start to lead a life of their own so that the whole enterprise appears to get completely out of hand. Both performances take us down the slippery path of linear storytelling in which a great creative force is awakened by the error and  impossibility of repetition.

The Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s version of Romeo and Juliet is the result of several telephone conversations with people who were asked to retell the story from beginning to end in their own words. The play develops through a whole series of twists and turns in the plot as nobody is able to remember the exact ins and outs of the story. Who first fell in love with whom? Was there any sex in it, or not? And who murdered Mercutio?

As the narrators try to talk their way out of their own narrative dead ends by filling in the blind spots with their own versions, this generates a whole range of scenarios. In the end whole scenes and characters who do not even appear in the original story are discovered or rediscovered.

Whenever memory lets us down, a sort of necessary creativity takes over. The result is a highly personal series of Romeo stories, full of emotions and murmurs of love, desire and the complex nature of self-sacrifice.

creation & direction Pavol Liska, Kelly Copper | from conversations with Linda Copper, Eliotte Crowell, Anne Gridley, Teresa Gridley, Jo Liegerot, Robert M. Johanson, Zachary Oberzan, Kristin Worrall | with Anne Gridley, Robert M. Johanson, Elisabeth Connor | design Peter Nigrini | production manager Kell Condon | production International Summerfestival / Kampnagel (Hamburg), Salzburger Festspiele (Salzburg) | co-production Kaaitheater (Brussels), WorkSpace Brussels (Brussels), Buda (Kortrijk), Noorderzon Festival (Groningen), Wexner Center for the Arts (Ohio State University)