West Sussex theatre company takes Bard’s classic love story on debut tour

Sarah Slator
Sarah Slator

A new West Sussex theatre company embarks on its debut tour, with performances coming up in Brighton, Tortington near Arundel, Albury and Crawley.

After successful performances at St Botolph’s Church in April, This is my Theatre invite theatre lovers to celebrate Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary year with Romeo & Juliet.

Megan Grech as Juliet and Harry Boaz as Romeo

Megan Grech as Juliet and Harry Boaz as Romeo

Artistic director Sarah Slator said: “We are Friends of St Botolph’s, just near Steyning. One morning we got a letter about fund-raising activities there, and I wondered whether they would like a show.”

She continued: “I put a proposal to the Churches Conservation Trust that looks after the churches, saying that it was Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary, and they agreed to let us use the church as a venue, which hadn’t happened before for theatre.”

Now the company is taking the show to three more churches, plus two other venues. The next performances are:

Friday, June 24: Brighton Open Air Theatre, Hove, 7.30pm. Doors open 6.30pm. Tickets on www.brightonopenairtheatre.co.uk.

Megan Grech as Juliet and Harry Boaz as Romeo

Megan Grech as Juliet and Harry Boaz as Romeo

Saturday, June 25: Church of St Peter and St Paul, Albury. 7.30pm. Tickets on www.thisismytheatre.yapsody.com.

Tuesday, June 28: St Peter’s Church, Preston Park, Brighton, 7.30pm. Tickets on www.thisismytheatre.yapsody.com.

Wednesday, June 29: Church of St Mary Magdalene, Tortington, 7.30pm. Tickets on www.thisismytheatre.yapsody.com.

Friday, July 1: The Hawth Amphitheatre, Crawley. Tickets on www.hawth.co.uk.

As for the approach, Sarah said: “I really want to make the kind of theatre I like to watch. I love classical theatre; I love Shakespeare. I don’t know that I will necessarily always do Shakespeare, but I want to do Shakespeare that will appeal to modern audiences, but Shakespeare that still retains a sense of history, of where it originated.

“I am a movement director as well, and I also approach the whole piece in terms of its movement through space. I like to look at how the relationships are formed physically and lay the dialogue on that. Particularly with Shakespeare you are looking for the modern attributes of the character. We use the original language, but we want it to come across as if they were speaking now, not 400 years ago.

“I absolutely love Romeo & Juliet. With it being the 400th anniversary, I wanted to come up with something that people would want to see. The characters are so fantastic. There is so much to them. I wanted the first show with my own company to be a show that I love. I used to be a teacher, and this was the first show I directed as a teacher.

“I always watch critically as a director and I have seen some amazing and some not-so-amazing productions of Romeo & Juliet. For me, the really important thing is the connection between understanding the language and speaking the language and bringing it to life.”

Outdoor performances will proceed in all but the worst weather. A proportion of money raised from church performances will be donated to The Churches Conservation Trust.

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