Heirs: An Immersive Experience

Jul 10 2019. view 121

Fresh off a successful run of her debut directorial venture Chatroom, Tasmin Anthonisz tackles a modern take on “ Romeo and Juliet” this time around, with plans for an immersive theatre experience. The production will be held on the 19th, 20th, 21st July, 2019, 7.30pm, run time approx 1 hour 45 minutes at a private garden at No. 18/4 Kirimandala Mawatha, Nawala (next to Vidura College).

“'Heirs' is a (Post)modern play, partly based on “Romeo and Juliet” Anthonisz explains. “We also drew inspiration from Shakespeare's source material, 'Romeo and Juliette' by William Painter which can be found online in his “Palace of Pleasures collection of stories”.

Elaborating on the premise of “Heirs”, Anthonisz states “Our play is set in an abstract world dominated by two Houses who live by opposing principles. It's very much a clash of ideologies as well as a clash of cultures. The Capulets come from a conservative traditional mindset, where they believe things have to be done in a certain way, and not to is like a betrayal of everything they are. The Montagues on the other hand are more liberal, kind of New Money so better at business, but they can also be ruthlessly capitalistic and know exactly where to hit the Capulets when they need to. The thing is they both operate in this small developing city and there's not enough space to go around because they both want to have everything done their own way, and when the Montagus’ way doesn't gel with the Capulet culture, that creates tension, which turns into riots, and their conflict escalates from there. Into this mess comes Romeo and Juliet, who are the only children of the core families, essentially their 'Heirs'. As with the older versions of the story, their purpose is to create a bridge between these families, but how they do that is very different in our play”. 

“As with Chatroom, the set is very minimal and we have elements set up to make the audience feel like they're in the world of the action” Anthonisz answers in response to being asked how this production differs from her first. “But in terms of scale, it's much bigger than Chatroom. The cast is bigger, there's more spectacle, the story itself is larger than life, fantastical almost, whereas Chatroom is a very real story. Here we have dream sequences, space and time blending together”. 

“Romeo and Juliet” has been performed many times by many theatre companies. Why did Anthonisz decide to do a play that is so overdone in local theatre? “Truthfully I got the idea when I was at a rehearsal and saw some actors playing around under a pretty balcony. And then speaking to a Drama friend about it, he said 'hey, might be cool to do a devised version of it'. The whole thing snowballed from there. It started off as an experiment, but I think now it has a lot of relevance and the timing is right for it. Its running theme of fostering understanding between different cultures is something that we as Artists should be talking about”.   

Considering her approach to the play, I wonder if she cast new faces or theatre veterans.
“It's a diverse group” Anthonisz expounds. “Our leads, Haseeb Hassen (Romeo) and Luxmi Wijeyanathan (Juliet) have both won awards at Shakes' and they're very good at what they do. We also have a fabulous supporting cast of character actors including Lithmal Jayawardena, Hashen Ratnayake, Ayudhya Gajanayake, Onara de Silve, Nandun Dissanayake, Niren Ranasinghe and Sulo Perera, who collectively probably have more than a hundred productions under their belt. And we have a couple of new faces, Amandha Amarasekara (Paris) and Sonali Wanigabaduge (Laila Montague) who have been a delight to work with, as well as a very enthusiastic ensemble”. 

Tickets for “Heirs” are priced at Rs.1500, and will be available on Takas.lk from Wednesday the 10th of July. 


Rihaab Mowlana

Foodie • Bona-fide expert on Harry Potter universe • proud Slytherin • Unapologetic know-it-all • Keyboard warrior • Occasionally sarcastic • Incessant retweeter • Self proclaimed funny girl • twitter.com/ReeMowlana


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