Entertainment

Sure it's a love story...with machetes and shivs

Tybalt (right), played by Dylan Coulter, and Mercutio, played by Ashlyn Tegg, face off in a machete duel in the University of the Fraser Valley’s production of Romeo and Juliet opening this Friday. - Cornelia Naylor/TIMES
Tybalt (right), played by Dylan Coulter, and Mercutio, played by Ashlyn Tegg, face off in a machete duel in the University of the Fraser Valley’s production of Romeo and Juliet opening this Friday.
— image credit: Cornelia Naylor/TIMES

For those who know Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet only for its lovey-dovey balcony scene, the University of the Fraser Valley’s (UFV) production opening this Friday promises to be an eye-opener.

Sure, Shakepeare’s original already calls for plenty of violence—what with an opening street fight and climactic revenge killing—but UFV director Paul Gélineau has amped up the grit in his production.

Set in a post-apocalyptic, not-to-distant future, gone are the elegant rapiers and daggers of Renaissance Verona—hello machetes, baseball bats and shivs.

It should come as no surprise that fighting features prominently.

Gélineau is, after all, an expert in the art of stage violence, being one of only eight fight masters in all of Canada.

But he didn’t directed the fighting in this play, leaving the choreography and training of the actors to two Fight Directors Canada (FDC) apprentices from Vancouver: Mike Kovac and Ryan Bolton.

“Whenever I’m directing something I hire someone else to do the fights, because when I’m in fight director head, I have to look at the characters from a standpoint of aggression and where they live in an aggressive place and build from that,” Gélineau told the Times. “If I’m directing I can’t allow myself to do that. I have to be able to look at the characters in a much broader sense.”

Kovac and Bolton have worked their way up the FDC certification ranks, which begin at the level of “basic actor combatant” and end with Gélineau’s rarefied rank of “fight master.”

At all level, says the UFV director, the goal (besides believability and safety) is to forward the story through the fight.

“Fighting is a physical dialogue,” Gélineau said, “so there’s a story that happens within the fight: it gets worse, you start to get better than me, I get scared, I then become more aggressive and outraged in a way that changes the way I fight. All of that communicates character and supports the story.”

 

UFV's production of Romeo and Juliet runs March 6 to 23 at UFV’s Performance Theatre at 45635 Yale Rd. (at Airport Road). Ticket prices range from $11 to $23 (plus service fees) and are available for purchase by phone at 604-795-2814 and online at www.UFV.ca/theatre.

 

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