Benvolio played by Jonathan Livingstone
Romeo and Juliet (2017)
Written by: William Shakespeare
In his first production at Shakespeare's Globe, Jonathan will be playing Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet.
"I share a dressing room with Ricky and Keith, and we just talk about the show, we still talk about our favourite lines in the show! We call the scene ‘Mad Daddy’ when he absolutely loses the plot: ‘God’s bread! It makes me mad!’ That moment really lays into me. It’s just the language I think, it’s just so eloquent, in a moment of anger."
As the show starts to find its rhythm onstage, Jonathan shares his favourite moments offstage...
"The play doesn’t make sense, the space doesn’t make sense until there’s an audience in it. For instance I have a line, ‘Make thee think thy swan a crow’, so after Tech Week I was playing that out to the audience and offending loads of people! Groundlings, you’re going to get it if you’re there!"
With performances underway, Jonathan takes us through Tech Week, developing the relationship between actor and audience, and building new dynamics during understudy runs.
"When there's violence happening, it's kind of offset by crazy, sexual energy happening! So, for instance, that first fight is really blood thirsty, but then these dancers appear and they're shaking it and it's very sensual."
Taking us through Daniel Kramer's vision for the show, Jonathan talks about age-blind casting, movement and music, and how 'These violent delights have violent ends'...
"If he didn't have the name Montague, he wouldn't be involved. I see him as a pacifist...I'm not quite sure where my Benvolio is going, but I know this is a good base: 'Peace-keeper, peace-keeper. Manage, manage, manage. Put out fires!'
Looking back on his initial impressions of Benvolio, Jonathan discusses how these have evolved in the rehearsal room, the relationships which are important to his character, and his place in the 'ancient grudge'.
"I think we'll try and get it down two hours. The show keeps driving and driving, which Daniel Kramer wants: it's like a whirlwind! The audience will want to breathe and we're not letting you do that, until we allow in the text or in the play or in the moves."
As rehearsals begin for Romeo and Juliet, Jonathan talks to us about his previous experience with Shakespeare, getting on stage for the first time, and the pacing of the show for audience and actor.