Tom Holland: The Romeo and Juliet Controversy in London


Romeo and Juliet it is perhaps one of the most well-known and appreciated love stories of our time (although not everyone would define it that way). Born naturally as a play written by William Shakespeare, it has also been adapted to film and television over the years, in the form of poem and ballet, cartoon and video game. Quoted and parodied on several occasions almost anyone, occasionally returns to his place of origin, to the theater, and to his homeland, England. From May, for example, his new version (created and directed by Jamie Lloyd) takes to the stage at the Duke of York’s Theater in London for 12 weeks of West End rivalry, desperate love and death, and someone’s not happy. For nothing.

Romeo and Juliet: Tom Holland Comes

In the cast of this retelling, one star steals the show from everyone else. This is the beloved Tom Holland, Spiderman from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and friend of Zendaya. The young actor, who made his first steps in the West End and is a talented dancer (who doesn’t remember his choreography for Rihanna’s Umbrella?), moved away from the world of cinema to take a break, and in between Romeo. He will become the protagonist of what already seemed to be the theatrical event of the year. As his female counterpart in the role of Juliet, she will be there Francesca Amewudah-Rivers, a British actress of Ghanaian descent who, despite being very young, has had a respectable career in the theatre. In addition to acting, he writes and composes, and this is not his first experience with Shakespeare, he has also participated in performances Macbeth az Othello. In short, the veteran we saw on TV Bad education.

What’s the problem?

If you have passed in the last few months even just a minute of his time on Twitter, unfortunately for you, you already know what we’re talking about. The fact that the role Juliathe symbol of pure female beauty (and therefore necessarily white in racist rhetoric) went to a black actress, unleashed users who came from the abyss and improvising as theater experts demanded historical fidelity and they did not spare racist comments towards the actress. So much so that Jamie Lloyd’s company had to make it known official announcementon behalf of the entire production: “We work with an extraordinary group of artists. We care deeply that they can create without being subjected to online harassment. We will continue to support and protect all members of our production, at all Any abuse will not be tolerated and bullying and harassment will be reported online, in our industry or in our community.”

The power of facts and racism and misogyny that go hand in hand

It is obvious that we are talking about nothing. Against the theories of self-proclaimed connoisseurs of theater and Europe and England of the second half of the 16th century (the tragedy was created between 1594 and 1596) the facts. In Shakespeare’s time, for example, women were not allowed on stage. All roles were played by men, even dressed as women. So “faithful” representation should have been assumed male actor in the role of Juliet. As if that wasn’t enough, these people have as a weapon an idea of ​​the Middle Ages that is cinematic and unreal, completely white and historically inaccurate. As in fact, Shakespeare’s writing of tragedy was historically free, deeply influenced religious clashes between the Church of England and Catholicism. Going beyond the grain of history for a second, we also note that in July 2023, a performance of the same story, again in London, featured a black actor (Toheeb Jimoh) in the role of Romeo. The reactions were not the same. Of course, because this particular production, which will begin in May, has the big names of Jamie Lloyd and Tom Hollandbut maybe also because racism is intertwined with misogyny and the unshakable power of white and European standards of beauty and these things unfortunately happen, strengthen each other.

And now?

The fate of Romeo and Juliet in the theater

Although these users forced the company to settle the statement, true it’s in the numbers: the London show is already sold out, for all twelve weeks, so much so that there is speculation that it will also take place on Broadway. He says it Mirror: “Romeo and Juliet heads to Broadway after its run in London. Details to be announced in due course. Although director Jamie Lloyd is best known for his minimalist reductions of classic texts, what draws attention is undoubtedly his protagonist.” . Whether that’s true or not, we’ll find out in the coming months. But what matters is showing racist people that their boycott and social storms are still useless, that representation matters and is moving forward step by step, especially outside of online platforms. things are slowly still changing, leaving them behind, one theater production after another. And long live the wolf Francesca Amewudah-Rivers!


Leave a Comment