phone mail2 facebook twitter play whatsapp
Sharing Shakespeare: An Interview with Karen Fishwick

Sharing Shakespeare: An Interview with Karen Fishwick

11 July 2018 | Emily May

Juliet is one of the most renowned romantic female figures in theatre, so we caught up with Karen Fishwick who is one of the latest actors to take on the role. We discussed how the RSC places Romeo and Juliet in a modern context, the upcoming UK tour, and how she feels about it being broadcast to cinemas across the world!

CC: The RSC’s latest production of Romeo and Juliet has been described as a contemporary retelling. Can you tell us more about the play’s new setting and context?
Karen Fishwick: It’s modern, but I’d say it’s as if it’s almost a little bit ahead of present times. Our Verona is a very hot, industrial, London like setting, the set is very harsh and metal. It’s almost like our 2018 society in Britain has become just a little bit more undone, as if the seams are coming apart a bit more politically. We’ve kept it very naturalistic, and weirdly colloquial. Even though it’s Shakespearean language, it’s not a huge, grand melodrama. It feels very grounded, and hopefully a lot of young people and teenagers who come to see it will relate to the characters a lot.

Image Credit: Topher McGrillis (c) RSC
 
CC: The trailer contains electronic music, and the audience are warned to expect strobe lighting…
KF: Yeah electronic music, and we’re all in modern dress. If you imagine a RSC production of Romeo and Juliet you might think of white night dresses, ruffs and rapiers, but we’ve got daggers and flip knifes. We’re keeping it as contemporary as possible.
 
CC: Juliet is one of the most iconic female romantic figures in theatre history. How does it feel taking on such a seminal role?
KF: I guess it was quite intimidating to begin with. But very quickly, this had felt like it’s a new piece, which is a very weird thing to say when it’s actually a 400-year-old play. But the way I was hoping to approach it was to rebrand who I thought Juliet was. Even just the word Juliet has connotations, and I wanted to just wipe all of that off the table, and build her up again. Not knowing the play very well, it was like working on a piece of new writing, which was quite liberating. Erica Wilde our director is so generous, and lets you run with ideas, which takes the pressure off trying to make the character what everyone expects her to be. If I do what I believe is right in my heart, and do it with conviction, hopefully it will turn out ok.

Image Credit: Topher McGrillis (c) RSC
 
CC: So you’re able to make personal decisions about how you portray the character?
KF: Totally! I had some ideas before we started rehearsals. Maybe it seems quite negative, but I knew what I didn’t want to do. Juliet’s a very repressed young woman and she’s in a society from which she can’t escape. You always see her on the balcony, or at the party, where she looks very pretty and speaks nicely. But I wanted to know; where are her friends? What does this girl do during the day when she’s shut up in the Capulet household? If she doesn’t really see her friends what does she do with all her spare time? She lives in a really dangerous community, so I thought she must have some self-defence classes that she goes to on a Thursday!
 
CC: It’ must be refreshing to create such an in-depth role for a female, as they’re often not written as very 3D characters in older texts.
KF:  Yes, but I also think that Shakespeare has written such an incredible character. I really didn’t realise that until we were half way through the play. It’s amazing that this man has written about the complex thoughts and strength of a 13-year-old girl so well. She’s extraordinary, she’s much smarter than I am! Before I’d think of her as wishy washy, but she actual has to make really vital decisions in a grown-up world, so it’s an incredible character to explore. It’s a challenge every time I go out to do it, which is an acting gift really, to be able to flex your muscles and your mind every night.

Image Credit: Topher McGrillis (c) RSC
 
CC: And this is your RSC debut! How has it been joining the company?
I haven’t done much Shakespeare before really. But it’s been so amazing. The company are so supportive. I didn’t realise how much their nurture young, emerging artists, and introduce people to the arts. They really look after people – especially people with children and families. I never really thought I’d be here, so it’s been really cool to learn more about Shakespeare. I didn’t really know what I was doing to begin with if I’m honest.
 
CC: What is it you like, or find challenging about performing the Bard’s work?
KF: Having not done much of it at all, apart from in High School, when you first approach the words on the page you can think “I don’t know what this means! I’m not sure how I’m going to get my head around this!” But breaking it down, and learning the rules of how it all works, it does seem to come back to the same 5/6 staple things. Like not messing around with it too much, you don’t need to change it, it’s just beautiful poetry. It’s also very musical, which I really love. It’s a joy and privilege really to be able to say these words.

Image Credit: Topher McGrillis (c) RSC
 
CC: Are you looking forward to touring the production?
KF: I can’t wait to tour. I cannot wait to take it all over the UK, it’s the whole point of our version of the show. The cast is from all over the country, and the play is a melting pot of all these different accents, ages and races, so I’m excited to show people that the RSC isn’t hoity toity, fancy people speaking Shakespeare. It’s actually on the ground, current and relevant to what’s happening. So I really want people to come see it, relate to it, and find it exciting. We do! I’m really proud of the production and I can’t wait to see what the responses are, because every city has got a different personality.
 
CC: And it’ll be broadcast to cinemas on 18 July. How do you feel about being projected onto the big screen?
KF: I find it quite terrifying if I’m honest. But I think it’s really cool, I’ve got cousins in Canada who are going to go and see it, which is nice for me personally. And the fact that this play that we’ve made is going to go all over the world, and that we’re sharing Shakespeare is a really cool thing. I would have been all over that if it had existed when I was younger.
 
RSC’s Romeo and Juliet is playing at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon until 21 Sep 2018, and it being broadcast to cinemas on 18 July 2018. It then moves to the Barbican, London from 2 November 2018 – 19 January 2019, before embarking on a 2019 UK tour.
 

Tell us what you think

You may also like

A Guide to LGBTQ Brighton

A Guide to LGBTQ Brighton

There is so much to do in the seaside town of Brighton, it’s almost impossible to list it all. But even better, Brighton is famously the…

A Guide to Summer Films

A Guide to Summer Films

It seems like a lifetime ago when we at Culture Calling produced a guide to winter-themed films that included lots of snow and bleak landscapes.…

FILM REVIEW: Dusty & Me

FILM REVIEW: Dusty & Me

Dusty & Me, the touching story of a boy and his greyhound, is Northern England’s answer to Ladybird (2017), and will be released on VOD channels…

A Sherlock Holmes Lover’s Sight-Seeing Guide

A Sherlock Holmes Lover’s Sight-Seeing Guide

For lovers of Arthur Conan Doyle’s celebrated detective series, finding places to visit to feed your obsession is not a three pipe problem. 22 May is…

Kids Theatre to Look Out For

Kids Theatre to Look Out For

The Easter Holidays may be over but that doesn’t mean that the family fun has to stop. Seeing theatre doesn’t have to be a huge west…

Love after the honeymoon period: Love Chapter 2 by L-E-V Dance

Love after the honeymoon period: Love Chapter 2 by L-E-V Dance

Choreographer Sharon Eyal, recent guest Artistic Director of the National Youth Dance Company and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist, is bringing L-E-V, the company she co-directs with…

Top 5 Historical Attractions in Chichester

Top 5 Historical Attractions in Chichester

A cathedral city in the heart of West-Sussex, Chichester has a rich history and the beautiful architecture to prove it. Alongside the shops, theatre, and…

Top 5 Vegetarian Christmas Dinners in Brighton

Top 5 Vegetarian Christmas Dinners in Brighton

Despite being partial to a good nut roast, we must admit that it leaves a little to the imagination. However, Brighton has always been ahead…

Top 5 Comedy Venues in the UK

Top 5 Comedy Venues in the UK

Whether it’s to perk up a midweek lull, or be your night out on a Friday after work, watching stand-up comedy is one of our favourite…

“To torture yourself like this is a luxury.”

“To torture yourself like this is a luxury.”

The latest production to grace the stage of the National’s Lyttelton Theatre in London is “Julie” starring Vanessa Kirby, an adaptation of August Strindberg’s 1888 “Miss Julie”.…

Most popular

A Literature Lover’s Guide to Dorset

A Literature Lover’s Guide to Dorset

From Thomas Hardy to Enid Blyton, Lawrence of Arabia to Ian McEwan, many writers have been inspired by and sought solace in the beautiful Dorset countryside.
Go Green!: Environmentally Friendly Bristol

Go Green!: Environmentally Friendly Bristol

This week is Recycling Week, and what better way to observe it than to take part in some environmentally friendly activities in Bristol, the first UK city to be named the European Green Capital back in 2015!
FILM REVIEW: Bliss!

FILM REVIEW: Bliss!

The North of England meets Norway in Bliss! a bizarre tale in which a girl attempts to find her father. Out on VOD channels from 24 September.
“Art and life imitating each other”: An Interview with Richard Twyman

“Art and life imitating each other”: An Interview with Richard Twyman

We chatted to Director Richard Twyman, about English Touring Theatre’s latest production of Othello, which re-analyses the classic play through the lens of religion and spirituality.
“Radical, unconventional and international… much like the artists who lived here”

“Radical, unconventional and international… much like the artists who lived here”

The Bloomsbury Group may be a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean their work and relevance has to be. In this spirit, Charleston House in East Sussex has opened an exhibition space filled with work inspired by the work of the renowned artistic group!
Windsor, Booze and Running Shoes: An Interview with Holly Light

Windsor, Booze and Running Shoes: An Interview with Holly Light

Think a beer (or two) at the finish line would make you run a bit faster? Then the British Beer Run is the event for you! We chatted to Holly Light from AAT Events about the upcoming race in Windsor on 13 October.
The Trocks on Tour!

The Trocks on Tour!

If you’re a fan of RuPaul’s drag race, and also a dance devotee, then you’ll love Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo. Catch the all-male comedic ballet company as they tour the UK through till November!
Films to look forward to from Venice Film Festival!

Films to look forward to from Venice Film Festival!

Why not check out our summary of what films to (and what not to!) look forward to from the Venice Biennale? With many of the films soon to be streamed on Netflix, you’ll soon be able to get a taste of the world’s oldest film festival right from your sofa!
Gardens just don’t lose their charm for artists!

Gardens just don’t lose their charm for artists!

The Enchanted Garden at Newcastle’s Laing Gallery explores how gardens have been an ongoing inspiration through 100 years of art history. We chatted to curator Amy Barker to learn more about the artists who have flirted with fauna and flora in their work.
Stones Rock! – Top 5 Shingle Beaches in the UK

Stones Rock! – Top 5 Shingle Beaches in the UK

Tomorrow (16 September) is collect rocks day, so why not become a geologist and pick up some pebbles from one of the UK’s Top 5 stone and shingle beaches in our handy guide? We’re sure they will rock your world!

Your inbox deserves a little culture!