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)