Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo ... oh, you’re at Traquair

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CHILDREN’S auditions for Shakespeare at Traquair’s 2011 production – Romeo and Juliet – take place tomorrow at Silver Tree Studio in Peebles.

But the two leading characters – played by Matthew Burgess and Natasha Stiven – have already begun their romance as they rehearse for the run of performances in June.

Director Kath Mansfield said: “They are experienced professionally and came through the community theatre route so understand how a group like Shakespeare at Traquair works.

“Sometimes it is a fast process and, at other times, it takes patience while fledgling actors learn the trade from more experienced members of the cast.

“I am delighted that Matthew has agreed to mentor Callum Forman this year, our young Benvolio.”

Stiven has just finished playing Lucy Westerman in Liz Lochead’s adaptation of Dracula and was busy at the Edinburgh Fringe last summer, playing Anya Ranevskaya in an Edinburgh Theatre Arts production of The Cherry Orchard.

Burgess is a ‘weel-kent’ face in the Borders, having been in several Shakespeare at Traquair productions already.

He added: “I’m the regular stage manager for Borders Youth Theatre where I also help train the youngsters in the ethics of the trade.

“I am on the board of the Rowan Tree Theatre Company and for them, I played Wilfred Owen and I had the lead in John Carnegie’s critically acclaimed adaptation of James Hogg’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner.”

He is proud to have been part of the original Shakespeare at Traquair in 1995.

Romeo and Juliet will be his seventh production and his first since the 10th anniversary when he played Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

He added: “While walking around the picturesque grounds of Traquair with a script in my hand it all came flowing back and I cannot think of a better setting for Romeo and Juliet than this. 

“Having played Tybalt in another production and having stage-managed another two productions of Romeo and Juliet, I am quite glad, and surprised, to be playing Romeo at the tender age of 30-something.”

Children’s auditions are held from 2pm to 5pm and all are welcome.

Romeo and Juliet runs from Wednesday, June 1 to Saturday, June 4 and then Tuesday, June 7 to Friday, June 10.

Tickets are on sale at the Eastgate Theatre (01721 725777).