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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

So, her name was Juliet

On April 24 a production of Shakespeare’s immortal tragedy premieres at the Lesia Ukrainka Theater of Russian Drama
23 April, 2014 - 17:26

Director Kyrylo Kashlikov has somewhat changed the title of the play of the classic to Juliet and Romeo (Story of Love and Hate), explaining the inversion by the leading role of a woman in love. The staging director has as well deviated several times from the classic plot. First, the events don’t take place in Verona. Secondly, Juliet won’t appear on a balcony. Thirdly, this will be our contemporary’s vision of the well-known Shakespearean plot. The main roles will be performed (in turns) by Kyrylo Nikolaiev and Lev Skursky (Romeo), Anastasia Chepeliuk and Shonia Shorena Bezhanivna (Juliet), the set design and costumes were created by Olena Drobna, choreography was staged by Olha Goldis and Maksym Peknii.

“It is hard to speak about Shakespeare,” Kyrylo KASHLIKOV admits. “I think today there is no less hatred in the air than in the time of Shakespeare. But it does not mean at all that there is no way out. Although from the very beginning it was clear that the story of Romeo and Juliet could not end happily, critiques call it the ‘tragedy of historical winners.’ It is a tragedy, because the main heroes die, but they are the winners because with their death they still gave an opportunity for those who remain at least a hypothetic chance to look at themselves differently. They gave people a chance to change.

“What is the fatal turn of the story told by Shakespeare? Neither Romeo, nor Juliet came up even with a thought to come to their parents and ask them: what to do? So, the genetic memory of Juliet, the atmosphere in the house is so hateful and hostile that she without hesitation takes a most desperate step – secret wedding. She does not even think that it is possible to tell her parents about the problem, ask them for advice. That is why the situation is so awful. Now let’s apply the situation to our time: don’t we have many enough families, where everyone lives a life of his own, where the child feels as a stranger and tries to survive on his/her own?”

 In the title Juliet is mentioned first to underline her leading role in this story. For it is she who confesses her love, practically proposes to her beloved one, and dares to take the dangerous poison.

“Following this logic, yes, she makes all the most important decisions. Besides, taking poison is by no means the same thing as stabbing yourself with a knife. Don’t forget, this is not a man we are speaking about, but a little girl. Juliet at the age of 14 has so much inner strength that she is ready to accept the terrible death. This strength is similar to Joan of Arc, and it is worth of admiration. But the title of the play was born not only because Juliet moves the story forward. Another thing is important for me. If we are speaking about love, we should admit that in all times the man is the second number in love. He always makes court, achieves, defends, proposes, thus giving the superiority to the woman. If you remember, sonnets, heroic deeds, knight tournaments. The man has always made deeds in the name of a woman. Incidentally, we have all accustomed to the finale of the play translated by Grekov, which reads that there never was a sadder story than the story of Romeo and Juliet. But Juliet goes first in the original: ‘For never was аa story of more woe / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.’

“Shakespeare’s heroes are 14 and 16 years old – this is namely the code to the play. We needed to find special children-artists. He seems to be a child, but his eyes show the deep knowledge of the world. Someone wrote that Romeo and Juliet in the play should be modern sages. Maybe those are the notorious indigo children everyone talks about.

“I am glad that everything coincided so successfully: the idea to stage Shakespeare’s play emerged, and people able to develop this topic came to the theater. It is wonderful that they will make their debut on professional stage with such a wonderful material. There is so much about present day in this play. Actually, it is about the current events in Ukraine. Do you know why Shakespeare, taking the hostility of two real families, Montecchi and Capuleti, as a ground of the plot, did not say a word about the reason of their centuries-long conflict? Because the archenemies have forgotten long ago why they started to fight. Tens or maybe hundreds years later no one was able or eager to understand that this confrontation would not lead to anything good. The war does not have a future. And hatred gives way to hatred. What do we have now? We have mutual offences, people are dying, and no one has any desire to sort out the conflict. The Shakespearean story written over 400 years ago is about this as well.”