Romeo and Juliet

Across genres, Shakespeare's timeless reservoir of artistic and art historical associations never fails to arouse admiration.

CUBE 521, Marnach
29 June 2024, CUBE 521, Marnach
at 20:00
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30 June 2024, CUBE 521, Marnach
at 17:00
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More than four hundred years ago, the pen of one of the most famous playwrights of all time unleashed an epoch-spanning artistic obsession with the search for meaning between love and death, fate and free will. The urge to artistically illuminate the people at this crossroads was not new. Shakespeare owes the inspiration for his tragedy to the couple Mariotto and Ganozza by Italian writer Masuccio Salernitano, later adapted by Luigi da Porto as Giulietta and Romeo. The conflict between love, death, fate and free will goes back to ancient times. The legend of Pyramus and Thisbe in Ovid's Metamorphoses, which was taken up even before Shakespeare by Giovanni Boccaccio, is regarded as the archetype of the “star-crossed lovers”. But it is Shakespeare's tragedy that enjoys an unprecedented attraction for many subsequent forms of artistic appreciation.

After numerous adaptations, we are today well acquainted with the story of the two rival families in Verona, the Montagues and the Capulet: Romeo Montague sneaks into a Capulet masquerade ball, where he meets Julia Capulet, who is supposed to marry Count Paris, the choice of her father. Romeo and Juliet fall in love at first sight and arrange a secret wedding with the help of the monk Lawrence. However, Romeo's attempt to stop a duel leads to the murder of Juliet's cousin Tybalt, as a result of which Romeo is banished from Verona. In order to avoid being forced to marry Paris and be reunited with Romeo, Juliet agrees to a plan devised by Brother Lawrence. Julia's death is supposed to be faked with the help of a drink. Romeo is to be notified of this plan, but the delivery of the message fails. When he falsely learns of Juliet's death, he returns to Verona. Convinced to have found Juliet dead in the Capulets' tomb, Romeo takes his own life. A short time later, Julia awakes from her deathlike sleep. Horrified by Romeo's death, she grabs her lover's dagger and commits suicide as well.

Across genres, Shakespeare's timeless reservoir of artistic and art historical associations never fails to arouse admiration. Luxembourg Ballet turns attention to the interplay of light and darkness. "More light and light: our suffering is getting darker and darker," says Romeo the night after the secret wedding. Choreographer Volha Kastsel breaks the symbolic light of the tragedy into distinguishable shades of colour, those of love, death, fate and free will. Brother Lawrence plays a special role here, as these colour nuances can be clearly seen through his figure. The kind-hearted cleric acts as a moral compass throughout the storyline. He talks about the dichotomy in man, able to do good or evil with the same means. Romeo himself is the incarnation of this aphorism: driven by love, he deifies Juliet, but at the same time he is able to murder in order to be reunited with his beloved one.
But Brother Lawrence is also the most intriguing character of the tragedy: he marries Romeo and Juliet with the intention of ending hostilities in Verona and devises a deceptive and cunning plan that seems to originate from an almost mystical knowledge. While Brother Lawrence's plans appear well-intentioned to avoid fate, they also serve as the mechanism that brings about that fate. “Destiny makes room for our strength; it opposes only the sluggish, the weak-willed.” wrote Shakespeare. For choreographer Kastsel, it is the power of love that creates the leeway to face fate.

The play ends with the words of Prince Escalus, ruler of Verona, collimating the hues of tragedy into symbolic daylight: “Only gloomy peace brings us this morning; The sun shines, shrouded in sorrow...” The paradox of the gloomy-shiny morning represents the mystery that every seeker of meaning is confronted with sooner or later. Death separates, after the fate spells unhappiness of the "star-crossed lovers". But it is free will to take fate control over the own fate and follow the loved one into death. Free will, in turn, can only triumph over fate thanks to love. With these thoughts and a cast of dance celebrities, Luxembourg Ballet embarks on an unforgettable journey into one of the most profound dramas of all time.
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