Romeo Is One Of Those
Romeo is one of those roles that most young actors would kill to play. And why shouldn’t we kill for it? I mean, its got everything an actor wants: incredible passion and desire, fearlessness, and plenty of heart. Oh, and did I mention desire? Yeah. Tons of it. This is one of those roles that many young actors would kill to play for the sheer fact that it is like climbing a huge mountain. You know its gonna be exhausting but it’ll be such a great feeling when you reach the top! Right? I think….It helps that I have a great support group with this company. Having such admiration for the people I am working with allows me to feel safe to climb this enormous mountain.
When I first started memorizing my lines for the show, I kept thinking “How do I make this sound like actual words coming from an actual person in response to actual events as opposed to sounding like I am reciting beautiful prose?” Not easy. But possible! The lovely Erin Petersen (Juliet) and I are side by side on this journey and will be until closing night. We’ve dedicated a few rehearsals to building trust with one another and opening ourselves up for the other to love. It certainly helps that we get along so well. From day one I felt extremely comfortable with her. We understood one another from the start. Granted, there is a difference between liking each other as friends and playing the two most famous lovers of all time.
The scene that I find myself struggling with the most is the balcony scene. I mean, everybody knows the balcony scene! The dialogue in that scene is so exquisite but I am doing everything in my power to forget that fact. Yes, its gorgeous. And because of that it is easy to fall into the trap of sounding too gorgeous when performed. A few times I’ve done the scene during rehearsals and I instantly become very self-aware and overly analytical. Its hard not to! Like I said, EVERYONE knows that scene. It’s hard to approach that scene as if it were totally unfamiliar without any preconceived notions about it. Then I remind myself that Romeo does not lead with his head. But , rather, with his heart and soul. He never analyzes or over-thinks (like I so often do). Everything he does and says in the play comes from how he feels— not thinks. I’m in the process of discovering what that is. No over-thinking…well, as little as possible during rehearsals. Just heart. No rational thought. Just impulse.
I thought I was going to hate the stage combat because I hated taking the class in school. But its actually been fun. Working in the space has been mostly a positive experience. While we are very close to the audience, I don’t feel like I am too close like I’ve been with certain performance spaces in the past. It’s intimate but not actor-spitting-on-the-audience-during-intense-scenes intimate. I’ve learned that I don’t need to talk as loudly as I am accustomed to. With this performance space, everything can be heard without much effort from the actor. Part of the fun of playing Romeo is that I get to feel almost every emotion imaginable in the span of two hours. Scary? Yes. Invigorating? Absolutely!
Michael Salimitari (Romeo)