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Joe Mariani and Dorothea Gloria discuss playing R&J

Two of our actors taking part in our February 12th Virtual Valentine's Showcase, All's Well As It Ends Well, discuss playing the star crossed lovers in that famous balcony scene we all know and love! Check out their bios on the event page and be sure to buy your tickets here:

1. We know that this is not the first time both of you have done Romeo and Juliet. What’s the difference between the first time and now? Joe: Obviously, it’s an exciting opportunity- any chance you get to revisit a scene or role you have worked on in the past. I’d like to think I’m a better actor and a different person from when I worked on this scene last, so I approached the scene this time around with a whole new and different perspective! Plus, there’s the whole adapting to this new digital medium which gave us the opportunity to experiment and try new things with the scene like it probably hasn’t be done before!

Dorothea: The first time I did Juliet was when I was 15 years old for the Knowledge Channel back in the Philippines, more than 10 years ago (oh my!). I honestly cringe whenever they show that play from time to time on tv and I see myself as that very young actress. I barely understood Shakespeare at that time and I really just memorized the words. Hopefully now, with more than ten years of experience with Shakespeare, I can breathe more life into Juliet’s words.

2. What challenges did you face in the project? Joe: Doing theatrical things while trying to maintain connection with a partner over zoom is a challenge that I think I a lot of actors have had to face head on when they’re trying to do theatre during this pandemic. Luckily I have a wonderful scene partner so the connection is already there! There’s also the inherent challenge of the fact that the balcony scene is a cat that has been skinned several hundred thousand different ways, and the excitement comes with trying to look at the scene from your own lens and figure out how you are going to bring YOURSELF to this scene and role like no one else has brought before, in hopes that you can make the audience see the scene in a whole new light!

Dorothea: Trying to figure out what looks like a believable balcony experience through Zoom. This is the first time I did this scene without having a physical Romeo in the space. Nonetheless, Joe came up with the great idea of making it seem like Romeo was vlogging while doing the scene which makes it exciting and believable for the present time.

3. What resonated with you in the scene?

Joe: What I have always loved about Romeo and Juliet is how Shakespeare encapsulates the experience of true love in purest form -naive, passionate, and maybe even a little reckless or dangerous. Few else have been able to capture this perfection in a scene like Shakespeare has and it’s a thrill to be able to fall back in love again every time I do the scene. Dorothea: It mimics what I would feel when it came to love during my teenage years. It was very much similar to the feeling of life and death and the world is against me kind of thing. I know, so much angst. I remember writing boat loads of poems and letters professing my love to the boy/s that I liked / loved (I think I just gagged a little in my mouth just going down this memory lane).

4. Is there anything different that you did here that you wouldn’t normally do in a normal set-up? Joe: I think there’s a lot of things that are different about the set up for this scene that may be different than how I would normally set up for a digital performance! I think the biggest difference is the fact that I will be zooming through my phone throughout the entire scene as opposed to having a faxed camera point from my laptop. I will actually be in complete control of the camera angles while I am performing the scene because of this, so it allows me a lot more freedom of movement and expression that I may not necessarily be able to achieve by zooming from my laptop. Dorothea: Definitely. Because it is through Zoom, I treated this scene like a film scene rather than a theatre scene. I’m more aware of my framing, which body parts are seen and cannot be seen, and my micro facial expressions were very important. Small beats of seeing an object, then making it register, then the effect after are all the more highlighted; thus, it’s to make sure that those beats don’t blend together.

5. Were you ever faced with a life and death situation like R&J? Joe:Never been in a situation quite like them! And to be honest....I really hope I don’t. It didn’t end well for them, so I doubt it would end well for me. Dorothea: I think the most life and death situation that I have ever faced was when I decided to leave the Philippines to go to New York to pursue acting. It felt like a mini death to leave Manila and also it felt like being reborn once I moved to New York, a place where everything was very new to me.

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