Monday, 24 August 2009

Joseph Wright's magnificent painting of Shakespeare's tragic young lovers Romeo and Juliet will be brought vividly to life by five-star 1623 theatre company from September 1st to 3rd.

These evening performances are part of 'Joseph Wright 275', a year-long series of events organised by Derby Museums in collaboration with local arts organisations to celebrate Wright's 275th birthday.

Lucy Salt, Keeper of Art for Derby Museums and art Gallery, explained: "Born on 3 September 1734, Wright became famed as one of the most innovative artists of the eighteenth century.

"His paintings are known chiefly for their dramatic contrasts between light and shadow and, being one of his darkest, his painting of the tomb scene in Romeo and Juliet is no exception."

1623 theatre company performs Shakespeare in non-traditional theatre spaces to engage new and existing audiences with the playwright's inspirational language, vibrant characters and exciting sense of theatre.

Ben Spiller, 1623 artistic director, explained: "Scenes will take place in a number of spaces throughout the Joseph Wright Room at Derby Museum and Art Gallery, so the audience is encouraged to follow the action quite literally.

"I was keen for Romeo and Juliet to be played by a pair of young actors, to resemble the youngsters in the painting as closely as possible, so I asked former members of Derby Playhouse Youth Theatre Jonathon Levers and Grace Scott, who have played smaller roles in a number of recent 1623 productions.  They've been amazing in rehearsals."

Following the first performance, on Tuesday September 1st, there will be a chance to join Ben and Lucy as they discuss Wright's painting, Shakespeare's play and the relationship between the two.

The title of the event is 'Star-crossed Lovers' - a theatrical celebration of Joseph Wright's Romeo and Juliet.  Performances will begin at 7pm and run for approximately 90 minutes.  Tickets, priced £8 (£5 concessions) must be booked on 01332 641902.  Ticket price includes pre-show refreshments served from 6.30pm.  This is a promenade performance with limited seating.

-Ends-

Notes for editors

  • A publicity image that incorporates the Joseph Wright painting of Romeo and Juliet is available electronically on request from This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • To book press tickets (maximum of two), please contact Derby Museum and Art Gallery Shop on 01332 641902
  • For further information on 1623 theatre company and the performances in the Joseph Wright Room, please contact Ben Spiller on 07867 996959 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Please contact Ben to arrange an interview with Jonathon Levers (17) and Grace Scott (17), who play Romeo and Juliet
  • For more information on Joseph Wright and the painting of Romeo and Juliet, please contact Lucy Salt on 01332 641917 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
For more details on Joseph Wright 275, please contact Sam Whitworth on 01332 715033 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 

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