What is the most unusual place to see a Shakespeare’s play?
The place is a school playground in a little village at the foot of the mountain. The village of Patalenitsa in Bulgaria is where we find the boys and girls from the Shakespeare School Theatre “Petrovden” rehearsing their next play. The local school has become an open-air theatre and attracts a wide audience from near and from far. This event, now a permanent feature on the cultural calendar, has been going on for more than 20 years.
It all started back in 1999 when famous Bulgarian director Hristo Tzerovski met with young people from the village and before long they started casting for the roles of Romeo and Juliet. The children were offered a chance to improve their acting skills, stage presence, and speech as well as learn a new language. Since 2009 the school has been partnering with Guildford School of Acting and the acting tutor at the time, Rex Doyle. Both Hristo and Rex have left a legacy they can be proud of.
During the years, Shakespeare School Theatre “Petrovden” have recreated many of the famous bard’s plays such as Romeo and Juliet, Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, and more recently Twelfth Night in 2016, Hamlet in 2017, and Merchant of Venice in 2018. Every year in July, during the peak of summer, the village of Patalenitsa will host the Shakespeare’s festival.
This school theatre is one of a kind in the country and their work draws huge interest not only from Bulgaria but also from abroad. In the audience, you can spot both professional actors as well as locals from the village, with some of the guests traveling all the way from Sofia.