14 August 2015 at 3.11pm | Comment on this article
A few weeks ago we opened up our front of house spaces to a group of talented young performers, and asked them to create a short contemporary reimaging of Shakespeare's classic love story, Romeo and Juliet.
The film juxtaposes their modern talents with the 19th-century backdrop of the Royal Opera House. In collaboration with somewhereto_, an organization offering 16-to-25 year olds across the UK access to free event spaces, we invited spoken word artist Samuel King, roller skaters Nas Khan and Renee Castello, and a group of contemporary dancers from Avant Garde Dance to respond to the tragic tale.
‘I know the name Royal Opera House so it was a big deal to be part of a film that’s happening in these spaces,' says Samuel, 20, a spoken word artist from King’s Cross.
Samuel plays the narrator in the film, a role for which he wrote the script, combining modern language with original lines from the Shakespeare play.
‘I used to rap when I was younger but the difference between me and my friends was that I was usually rapping with a message. I wanted to pass something on rather than just rapping for the sake of it. But no one was listening to me, no one really cared about what I had to say.’
Then three years ago Samuel started writing poetry and performed his pieces for the first time at an open mic night. ‘Unlike rapping, you didn’t need a beat or to rhyme,’ he says, ‘it was much freer and allowed me to express myself how I wanted to.’
Though Samuel had never been to the Royal Opera House before, he was keen to be part of this film. 'I wanted to show that I can be creative in terms of writing and it’s nice to be part of a version of Romeo and Juliet that incorporates lots of different art forms like spoken word, contemporary dance, and so on.’
College students Nas and Renee, both 16, play the roles of the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. They already know each other well off camera, skating together regularly at the Stratford Shopping Centre, the unofficial home for quad skaters in London.
Renee started skating three years ago when she was introduced to it by her mum: ‘My mum told me all these stories about how she skated as a kid and so I really wanted to do it,’ she says. ‘We used to both go down to Stratford together and she would teach me what to do.’
Like Samuel, Nas and Renee had never been to the Royal Opera House before. ‘I heard about it and I thought it would be a really good experience to come here,' says Nas. ‘I would never have thought about skating at the Royal Opera House though - we usually skate in Stratford or Hyde Park.’ 'It's good to do something else for once and to step out of my usual environment,' adds Renee. 'I like East London but it gets boring so it’s nice to change it up.’
This film is part of Deloitte Ignite 15, the Royal Opera House's annual arts festival, showcasing singers, musicians, dancers, costume and prop makers, street performers and much more. The festival runs throughout September and includes many free events.
Deloitte Ignite runs from the 3-27 September 2015 and includes a wide range of free and ticketed events.