Is She a Capulet? Regina Taylor and Condola Rashad Talk About Playing Juliet 30 Years Apart

By Karu F. Daniels
21 Nov 2013

Condola Rashad
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Condola Rashad

Two-time Tony Award nominee (Stick Fly, The Trip To Bountiful) currently stars opposite Orlando Bloom in Romeo and Juliet at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

"I studied Shakespeare a little bit in college actually. That was my first time ever really tackling [it]. It's so funny because I have been wanting to do it. One of my goals has been to do Shakespeare. Professionally, that was my next goal. That's something I really wanted to do because one, it's such an honor to do it and two, it makes you a better actor, so I was like, 'Well, I'm going to do Shakespeare. I know it.'

"I actually heard through the grapevine, I was out somewhere, and I heard a rumor that they were doing Romeo and Juliet on Broadway. It was a rumor. So I called my agent and I said 'Have you heard about this rumor?' He said 'Yes, it's not a rumor.' I said, 'We gotta get me in there. I gotta go in for that.' So they managed to get me in and I went in for David and they kind of liked what I did so I came back again. I didn't tell anybody that I went in for it, because I find that when I don't tell people a lot of things, they often go for the better, because it's less energy put on the subject. So I didn't tell anybody. So over the course of six months, I went in five different times. And then my fifth audition was the audition where I went to Los Angeles to read with Orlando and here I am. This was before A Trip to Bountiful.

"When I found out that I got this role, I worked with a master named Stephen Skybell, and I went in there and I broke down the text because the thing about Shakespeare is that it's all truth. So any bad habits you have, you have to learn how to get rid of them because it's all about telling the truth. So any other bells and whistles you put on any other role, it's not going to work for Shakespeare.

Rashad and Taylor backstage

"I felt pressure from the outside but I realized that I couldn't acknowledge it. All of that pressure doesn't really mean anything just because this role is iconic and just because it's such a famous role. Juliet herself does not know she's an icon. So I can't go into the work thinking about that. So I go into the role as if I was doing Sophie from Ruined or I was doing Thelma from [The] Trip to Bountiful. And people might disagree with me but you have to realize it's not about that. When you're acting in a role, in order to stay honest, you have to leave all of the ego out of it. You can't look at it too hard. You have to do what you do and tell the story of a young girl who doesn't know she's an icon; she's just a little teenager who's in love. She doesn't know that the world knows her. That's not her reality so I couldn't approach her that way.

"Our production's approach was not playing it as a tragedy from the beginning because that's not that interesting. We all do know how it ends. The biggest thing for us, which I think we found in the production, is that you're not going to care about these two young people taking their lives if you didn't care about their lives when they were living it. You're not going to feel affected by the loss of life if you weren't affected by the presence of it. So our first act, it's not like we had to do more to make it funny, it's just naturally a funny first act. So I think we bring a certain sense of vibrancy to these characters so when their lights burn out, you miss them. That's our goal anyway.

"Reviewers are going to say what they're going to say, and you can't control what they're going to say especially with a play like Romeo and Juliet, where people do know what it is and people already set up in their minds what they want it to be. So people who've done that, they're not going to be open to anything new. So you just have to do what you do. What I really pay attention to is the audience. If a 10-year old girl comes up to me and says that she loves it and that she's never seen anything like and she's able to understand it, we've done something."

View the Entire Photo Gallery
Condola Rashad and Orlando Bloom
Photo by Carol Rosegg

Previous 1 | 2