February 11, 2009

Director talks ‘Romeo’ violence with cops

A director at Shakespeare's Globe Theater in London says he is meeting with police to discuss concerns that Romeo and Juliet promotes knife crimes.

Bill Buckhurst, who is directing a production of William Shakespeare's tragedy that will be shown for free to about 10,000 teenagers, said he plans to discuss its violent aspects, including three fatal stabbings and Juliet's famous suicide-by-dagger, with Cmdr. Steve Allen, a knife crime expert , The Sun reported Wednesday.

Katharine Grice, a public relations consultant with Shakespeare's Globe, said Buckhurst's discussions with Allen will not radically alter the play, but may inform his approach to the material.

They are not altering it, but the whole way the play is edited is with the audience in mind. What the director learns from that discussion might feed into rehearsals, she said.

London Mayor Boris Johnson invoked Romeo and Juliet last year when he told a select committee that officials need to deglamorize knife crime and make clear to people that this is moronic and wasteful.

This is not the death of Mercutio taking place on the streets of London, he said, referencing a famous scene in the play.

Recent figures released by London police indicate teenage knife crimes have fallen since the start of a crackdown last May, with the number of young stabbing victims falling by more than 20 percent from 2007 levels by late last year.

Romeo and Juliet is to open March 9.