Tuesday 8 July - Saturday 12 July, 7.30pm

The Castle Players – Teesdale’s well-known community theatre company – are gearing up for their eagerly-awaited annual outdoor Shakespeare event in the grounds of The Bowes Museum. 

This year’s offering is ‘Romeo & Juliet’ and director Jill Cole has set her production in 1964, with mods and rockers replacing the street fighting
Capulets and Montagues of Shakespeare’s original.

“It’s exactly fifty years since the young mods and rockers invaded the seaside resorts on the south coast of England”, she explained.  “The rioting between the two sides mirrors the street fights in Shakespeare’s original play, where the Montagues ridiculed the new-fangled fashions of the Capulets. Shakespeare was actually referring to the new Italian method of fencing compared with old traditional English broadsword fighting, but if you replace those concepts with mopeds v motorbikes, or black leathers and jeans v suits and ties, the reasons for the rivalry between the two sides is comparable.”

In true Castle Players style the event offers audiences a fully immersive experience on arrival at the venue: complete with traditional pier, beach huts, Lambrettas, motorbikes and fish and chips on sale, the full ‘seaside experience’  will bring a new slant to this timeless tale of tragic young love.

Director Jill Cole is excited about the possibilities of transforming the grounds of the museum and bringing Shakespeare to life for audiences of all ages.  “We’ve got music from the time to help the action along”, she explained.  “An amazing amount of music was released that year which reflects the themes in the play – including ‘Juliet’ by the Four Pennies and ‘Just Like Romeo & Juliet’ by The Reflections.   I think it just goes to show that what Shakespeare was writing about was just as relevant in the 1960s and it was in the 1660s – and fifty years on again, how relevant it is today.

But there is one aspect of the play which will remain untouched.  “As far as Shakespeare’s language goes, that is sacrosanct” added Jill. “We’ve cut some of the longer speeches, but the poetry remains.  And hopefully the way our talented cast interprets Shakespeare’s text will bring the meaning alive for everyone – even those for whom Shakespeare seems like a foreign language!”

Tickets for ‘Romeo & Juliet’ are on sale from The Bowes Museum and Darlington Building Society in Barnard Castle,  from the Castle Players’ website www.castleplayers.co.uk or by calling 0800 074 7080.  Prices range from £5.00 - £20.00, although tickets are selling fast and the popular event is likely to sell out.  The play takes place outdoors, and audiences are advised to dress for the weather.  Covered raked seating is available, as well as some uncovered seating and groundmats closer to the action.  An extended 45 minute interval allows time to picnic and enjoy a glass of wine in the splendid surroundings of The Bowes Museum on what will hopefully be a beautiful summer’s evening.