András Visky’s 2002 theater piece JULIET concerns a woman sent to a gulag along with her seven children after her husband, a political dissident, is sentenced to 22 years in prison by Romania’s Communist regime. Though her ordeal is rendered dreamily as a stream-of-consciousness monologue, the story is hard fact: The woman was Visky’s mother, the dissident his father, and Visky himself was the youngest of the children, who together rescued her from the morgue after she was mistaken for dead. The real Juliet could have avoided this suffering if she’d agreed to divorce and renounce her husband. But she refused and so remained in the gulag for seven years.
American actor Melissa Lorraine discovered Juliet while working at Studio K Theatre in Budapest. Back home in Chicago, she produced and starred in the play’s first English-language staging, and went on to perform it over 300 times at Theatre Y (where she is Artistic Director) and all over the world.
Yet for much of the time she was embodying Juliet’s unconditional love, she faced a captivity of her own in the form of a failing, violent marriage.
In order to tell their two intertwined stories, director Visky and actor Lorraine, found the use of documentary form along with an experimental dramatic structure, to craft a riveting short film. Performing Juliet, explores the possibilities of theatre and cinema to explore such severe themes and circumstances, and brings the theater (as a character) to the screen to investigate its capacity to heal, to restore, or to liberate us.
Directed by András Visky (USA)