Wherefore art thou Romeo? In conversation with Jamieson Caldwell

Australian Shakespeare Company Romeo and Juliet
Jamieson Caldwell stars as Romeo in Australian Shakespeare Company’s Romeo and Juliet

Who doesn’t enjoy a summer love story? This week, AussieTheatre will feature interviews with the Montagues and Capulets from Australian Shakespeare Company’s upcoming outdoor production of Romeo and Juliet – the greatest love story of all.

Today we chat with Jamieson Caldwell, charged with the task of portraying everyone’s favourite lovestruck Montague: Romeo.

A graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts (2006), Caldwell has appeared in productions with the Australian Shakespeare Company, Melbourne Theatre Company and also regularly tours Australia with theatre companies including Phunktional and Arena.

What do you find are the major challenges of performing Shakespeare?

Learning the lines for sure, they don’t stick as well as modern day language so take that little bit extra work to learn.

You’ve been doing some pretty intense sword fight choreography. Can you tell us about a funny moment or a sticky situation?

[pull_left]I’ve already actually stabbed Hugh (who is playing the role of Paris) in the back with a dagger. Nothing too bad but he has a cut on his back that is healing from it![/pull_left]

I’ve already actually stabbed Hugh (who is playing the role of Paris) in the back with a dagger. Nothing too bad but he has a cut on his back that is healing from it. There have been a few close groin moments also that thankfully just leave us giggling like little school boys.

What scenes do you think audiences will enjoy the most about this production of Romeo and Juliet? 

The big fight scenes will be thrilling for the audience but specifically the famous balcony scene where hopefully the audience will melt along with the two main lovers.

Your role as a Montague involves some pretty intense issues of hate and prejudice. How does this relate to modern society?

We see it all around us constantly on the news and day to day issues. The battle between foes has raged on through all the ages. Seems as though man never learns from the mistakes of our past. “Oh brawling love! Oh loving hate!”

What’s your most embarrassing stage moment?

A cheeky little fart got out during the dying scene in MTC’s Hamlet. The audience didn’t hear it but the cast did. I copped it afterwards, haha. It was funny but a little embarrassing at the time.

What is it like performing and rehearsing outside in the Royal Botanic Gardens? Have you performed outside before?

I’ve performed in Ripponlea gardens playing the lover in Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Because there was a lot of nudity in that show we couldn’t be mic’d. Luckily this time round we are. I love being outdoors and enjoying the summer night air, it makes for a fantastic vibe.

Describe your character in Romeo & Juliet – do you think you are similar to him?

Romeo is a lover at heart but often finds himself pushed into awkward situations that never end well.

The similarity I find to Romeo is the two different sides he has. When he’s around his lads he’s very boisterous and manly and then when he’s around his love he completely melts and becomes a mushy poetic lover.

Romeo and Juliet opens at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne on December 20 and will run until 9 March 2013. 

Book tickets online www.shakespeareaustralia.com.au and remember to bring a picnic full of goodies, blanket/cushions, insect repellent and a hat. 

Erin James

Erin James is AussieTheatre.com's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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