This production of “Romeo & Juliet” was performed at Hawaii Performing Arts Company’s theatre, which was situated in a small, old, graveyard, which backed up to a shopping center supermarket parking lot, and was separated there by a short wall.
In R&J there is, early on, a big fight that starts innocently enough but escalates into a deadly confrontation between Mercutio, Romeo’s friend, and Tybalt, a young nobleman, and soon both are dead, Romeo is on the lam, and Benvolio, a friend of Mercutio and Romeo, is left onstage to explain what happened. In this show, Mercutio was played by Bill Ogilvie, Tybalt, by Jerry Tracey, Romeo by an actor named Kelly, and I played Benvolio. This was in 1977. Almost forty years later, in 2015, Bill Ogilvie passed away. In remembrance, on an email thread of many theatre folk from that long ago time who had worked with Bill and HPAC, Jerry Tracey posted a picture of him and Bill rehearsing a hand-to-hand struggle, with pointed instruments, for that fight. Here is what I wrote to Jerry, and the thread:
That newspaper pic of you and Bill “fighting(strangely sensual, I thought!)” brought back one of my fondest memories, beginning with “the fight.” In that R&J, as in all others, Mercutio(Bill) is killed by Tybalt(Jerry), who is then offed by Romeo(Kelly), who runs off, leaving Benvolio(me) to explain to whoever, what happened, after which Benvolio is never seen again(in the play, anyway.)
After that, no one really knew(or maybe everybody knew,) that that trio, Mercutio, Tybalt, and Benvolio, would get a cold beer most nights and repair to the back of the theatre and sit on that little wall separating HPAC’s grounds(the graveyard) from the supermarket, and talk, and laugh, and think thoughts, deep and otherwise. There were times, more than once, I remember, when we three would talk and laugh about how over the years, decades, generations, centuries, there had to have been so many other trios doing the very same thing we were doing that very night, with their version of Miller Lite, or whatever, and we’d laugh, and have another, and work our way to the curtain call.
Ah, the curtain call! I always felt that we three had the best curtain calls, because we were so far removed from the tragedy by then, and just really happy to have a curtain call to take! The graveyard had something to do with it all, but mostly, I think, it was the theatre, and the Shakespeare play, and being actors in that play, being a part of a long and continuous stream of theatre folk, being a part of the history of theatre, no matter where we were.
So, here’s to you, Bill, and to all of us, in that stream!