From 20 December 2012, the world’s most famous love story will transform the Royal Botanic Gardens.

The Australian Shakespeare Company is presenting a new production of William
Shakespeare’s most romantic play, Romeo & Juliet. Including a cast of some of Australia’s most talented rising stars, the production will explore the rhythms of Romeo & Juliet’s poetic text vocally and musically, creating a lively, high impact performance.

Australian Shakespeare Company Artistic Director Glenn Elston has been directing Shakespeare productions Under the Stars since 1987 hence forming a formidable collaborative partnership with the ASC.  Elston discovered that the ASC was 'a great fit' so when he was asked to join the board he thought that it was a good way to go and hasn't looked back since.

With this new enactment of Romeo & Juliet, he will engage a wider audience, using music to further enunciate the meaning of Shakespeare’s classic text. “Music is universally powerful, something everyone can relate to," says Elston. "We will use music to enhance the drama. Music will elevate the story, intensifying the terrible battles, tinkering and teasing at the market place, and joyously celebrating at the party with the players.”

Elston's attraction to the work started when he was living in a very cold flat in London and reading The Wind in the Willows for the first time. "I was 28 and started to think about coming home and how wonderful it would be to do an outdoor performance of the story in our beautiful summer time," he says.

Outdoor work does have it's challenges over indoor work as Elston admits citing, on a practical level, the building and removal of a theatre every night. "It involves the whole company – cast, crew and front of house – this builds a great team spirit," he declares. On a personal level he says the greatest challenge is working on adaptations which he really loves to do.

According to Elston the huge work load involved in creating out door experiences becomes acutely satisfying as well as significant because, he states: "The thing about my outdoor work is that it has brought a lot of people to see theatre who would never have gone into an actual theatre. I hope that now they might consider it a great pastime as well as experience a great sense of engagement and joy that they have been a part of a live event and moved by the story."

Elston says there is also a certain freedom and happiness that comes from being outdoors. Being able to eat and drink and take in the atmosphere without any stuffy constraints that come with a theatre.

Romeo & Juliet is a timeless classic celebrating the power of love, the joy and happiness of life while relentlessly highlighting the futility of hate. It makes you laugh at the playfulness, swoon at the romance and cry at the tragedy.

“The story of Romeo & Juliet is still so important to tell, as it shows how dangerous prejudice and hate can be, so much so that it destroys the children of the next generation,” says Elston.

Dates: 20 December 2012 ‐ 9 March 2013
Location: Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
Enter through the Observatory Gate on Birdwood Avenue directly adjacent to the Shrine Of
Remembrance or