New hip hop Romeo and Juliet set for play in Merton

Polka Theatre in The Broadway, Wimbledon, has opened the hip hop remake of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which will run until April 24.

Romeo and Juliet is being re-told through a series of raps, rhythms, and harmonies by Conrad Murray and Lakeisha Lynch-Stevens from hip hop theatre group Beats and Elements.

Polka will tour the show to 12 schools across south London as part of a new pilot scheme, between March 20 and March 28.

Conrad told Your Local Guardian: “It’s set in south London.

“We’ve mentioned roads that are in Merton and south Wimbledon.”

Pitching and production of the performance began back in August 2023, and rehearsals kicked off towards the end of January.

They will perform the play in 60 minutes.

Conrad added: “We cut out the nurse, but we kind of put some of that energy into Paris.

“We made some of the speeches shorter but just as poetic.”

The pilot scheme hopes to offer accessible theatre to school children in the area, at a time when school budgets are increasingly under pressure.

Conrad said: “It is great to be making this show with Polka since it was there that I had my first ever theatre experience on a school trip. “

“I lived in Mitcham and my grandma lived in South Wimbledon, so it was always this amazing factory of magic that was on our doorstep.

“Often, we would come in, just to walk about the gift shop and look at the cool things.

“I wrote an essay on a play I watched there when I was 14, and my social worker would take me there on our day trips.

“It’s actually a little daunting – like playing for your team on their home ground!”

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