East London Shakespeare Festival: Romeo & Juliet on sale now! • Vision RCL

East London Shakespeare Festival: Romeo & Juliet on sale now!

Coming to Wanstead Park on 15 and 16 July and Valentines Park on 2 and 3 August

East London Shakespeare Festival (ELSF) are bringing their riotous and atmospheric production of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers to outdoor London parks and community spaces this summer. Set in a familiar modern East London, this story of secret loves and families at war will be vividly brought to life in this contemporary and fast-moving telling.

With ELSF’s trademark contemporary twists and turns, high-energy party numbers and audience participation. The Masquerade Ball will be a party like no other–numbers to music from Lizzo, Dizzee Rascal, Gloria Estefan, Shirley Bassey and Clean Bandit. A festival vibe is encouraged with gates opening an hour before the show, pre-show workshops including mask-making and the opportunity to picnic on site.

Riding the high from their last two sold-out summer tours of Twelfth Night in 2022 and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2021 – which earned an Off West End Award Nomination for Best Company – ELSF will transform outdoor spaces across Hackney, Waltham Forest, Ilford, Crouch End and Redbridge, including the secret inner-city idyll of Hoxton Community Gardens (Shakespeare’s old stomping ground!) and the grand epic-ness of Fellowship Square in Walthamstow. ELSF are also dipping their toes into North London for the first time-turning Hornsey School For Girls’ playing fields into a theatre venue.

Community Engagement Programme

An extensive community engagement programme offering participatory activities to local residents will run alongside the tour.

The production will feature a community cast of local residents and they will appear in 10 shows at two of the venues (Higham Hill & Fellowship Square), pre-show mask making workshops for younger audience members, Pay-What-You-Can performances and heavily reduced school matinees for local schools including a 20-minute pre-show workshop. The production will also feature an Apprentice Actor–a local 18–25 year old selected to join the cast for their professional debut and offered mentoring throughout.

Creative Team

I am thrilled to be directing this production of Romeo and Juliet. Ursula and I started East London Shakespeare Festival in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic and since then, I have produced, acted and directed our fabulous community cast. So, it is very exciting to be taking on the role of Director, and “Romeo and Juliet” has been such a great one to get my teeth into. It thrills me as a play as there is such an intense range of emotions: love and hate, fear and anticipation, comedy and tragedy. I cannot wait to invite you to Verona-come-East London, to fall in love with this story of woe (& wit) of Juliet and her Romeo.

Rosie Ward, Director (and co-artistic director & producer of ELSF)

Romeo & Juliet is taking a bit of leap into the unknown for us – so far, we’ve done the big comedy hitters, fairly safe ‘family friendly’. So, in some senses R&J is a bit of a risk – they all die(!) – how do you make that fun and family friendly! But, it’s also the Shakespeare play that everyone (young and old) know, it’s universal and there’s a reason for that, the story is timeless – love, passion, betrayal, violence, and families at war, it is so close to home, it only needs a nudge to comfortably fit into a recognisable and contemporary East London. We are also, of course, going to put our ELSF stamp on it, wringing every last ounce of fun and joy you can get out of a tragedy. Our masquerade ball will be epic – with a medley number to some absolute foot-stomping classics (Tina Turner, Dizzee Rascal, Lizzo, Gloria Estefan) let’s get the party started!

Ursula Early, co-artistic director and producer of ELSF

Director – Rosie Ward:
Rosie is the founder, Artistic Director and Producer of ELSF and also Up Front Theatre Company, an educational company offering PSHE workshops for KS2-5. Previous Projects include: Before Anyone Else (UK Tour), In Harm’s Way (UK Tour), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night for ELSF (CommunityDirection), BuckleUp (EdFringe16), and Bump! (EdFringe16.)

Musical Direction and composition by Patrick Rufey:
Peter Pan, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Evolution Productions, News Revue 2012-2017, The Canal Café Theatre, Jack & The Beanstalk, Jack & The Beanstalk Buxton Opera House; The Birds, The Leicester Square Theatre. Most recently he has written 1066 A New Musical and the studio cast album is available on all streaming services.

Movement Direction and Choreography by Carl Harrison:
Carl is currently associate director for PEEP, the cabaret show within Punchdrunk’s The Burnt City and was associate choreographer on the RSC’s ‘Boy in the Dress’. As well as this, he co-founded queer cabaret fundraising night ‘Small Pleasures’ (London, Brighton and Shanghai). He is also Mr. CAMP FIT!-an inclusive,online gayrobics class which was voted No. 1 Lockdown workout by The Independent Newspaper. Previous Credits: Punchdrunk’s ‘Drowned Man’ & ‘Sleep No More’ Shanghai, Aletta Collins, Thick & Tight, Encounter Productions Brokentalkers, ThisisPopBaby, Brokentalkers, ProteinDance.

Design by George Alexander: George is a designer and illustrator working across a wide range of creative industries, specialising in theatre and costume. George’s recent work includes ELSF’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night; a giant mural painted in the lobby of the Unicorn Theatre and an illustration collaboration with the Fashion and Textile Museum.

Book your tickets here for Romeo and Juliet