On the road on P.E.I.

Vagabond Productions makes the short trip from UPEI to The Chapel at The Mount to present 'Romeo and Juliet', March 8-12

Sally Cole scole@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on March 4, 2016

For the past nine years, Vagabond Productions has mounted plays at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.

But this season, director Greg Doran is trying something different.

For the first time, he is taking the theatre troupe's production, "Romeo and Juliet", out into the community.

"It's always important to expand our audience," says Doran, of the play that will be performed nearby in the chapel of The Mount, March 8-12.

"Romeo and Juliet" is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families. Among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime, along with "Hamlet", it is one of his most frequently performed plays in theatres today.

"Theatre has traditionally had an older audience. So, in this situation, we're doing community outreach — bringing the show to people who might not be as mobile (as they once were) ... or able to leave The Mount."

Part of Doran's rationale is to make the play more audience-friendly.

"That's because, for many people, the idea of going to something on campus can feel very daunting. I don't know what causes it. I just know it's out there.

"Also, we can only perform in the faculty lounge so many times in a row before things get a little tiresome."

Kassinda Bulger, who plays Juliet, agrees.

"It will engage the public a lot more in this space. It's a fantastic facility," says the fourth-year theatre studies student.

Bringing in entertainment groups is part of the vision that Paul Jenkins has for The Mount continuing care community.

""It's a win-win situation. It gives the residents a show to see, it brings the community through our doors because we like a hustling and bustling spot. It also uses the chapel, which we like to see used in a respectful fashion, and they're doing that. Everybody wins," says Jenkins, owner/manager.

As a location, the chapel also works perfectly with Doran's creative take on the play.

Instead of the traditional setting of Verona, he has set it in Belfast to explore the senselessness of the violence caused by religion.

"Shakespeare never explains the cause of the conflict between the Capulets and the Montagues, so the play can say something about any type of conflict," says Doran, adding the idea came to him in Belfast, Ireland, as he looked at the military style gates and walls in the neighbourhoods.

"They reminded me of Juliet's question to Romeo about how he overcame the walls of the orchard to see her."




Need to know

- What: "Romeo and Juliet".

- When and where: March 8-12 at The Chapel in The Mount, 141 Mount Edward Rd., Charlottetown. Doors open at 7 p.m. The show begins at 7:30 p.m.

- Admission: Pay what you can.