SERIES PRODUCER of BBC Bristol, Lynn Barlow said at this weeks Coventry Conversation: “We wanted to be somewhere we don’t often go” when talking about her new documentary ‘When Romeo Met Juliet’ set in the city, adding: “but ironically you seem to have had more attention from the BBC in Coventry in the last year than perhaps for ages… It’s like the whole of the BBC has come to Coventry”.
The city has experienced a world premiere, a documentary special about the bombing of the city during WWII and will now be featured in a three-part, one-hour documentary series airing in January, which drew upon the resources of local schools, the University and its students.
Over the summer Ellen Terry became the training ground for the BBC’s ambitious project that follows in the footsteps of documentary series like ‘the choir’ by taking two Coventry schools with the goal of putting on a production of Romeo & Juliet at the city’s Belgrade theatre.
The series is aiming to make Shakespeare speak to teenagers, by taking students from Coventry’s Sydney Stringer and Cardinal Newman schools whose prior experiences of Shakespeare have been restricted the class room, Lynn said: “we’ve been able to paint a portrait of a multi-cultural diverse city by going home with the young people, talking to their families, getting their views on Shakespeare, life in Coventry and life as a teenager in general really”
Paul Roseby, Artistic Director of the Youth Theatre led the project and features husband and wife mentoring team Adrian Lester, best known for playing Michael Stone in Hustle, and Lolita Chakrabati who abridged this version of Romeo and Juliet, which is set in the early 80’s to encapsulate the city at the peak of two-tone.
Paul Watson the godfather of fly on the wall documentaries was due to speak as well, but due to an ongoing illness he was unable to attend. However Barlow recognised the influence of Watson’s work on what is now dubbed observational documentaries: “He was the father of the observational documentary and one of the first people to self shoot”.
For aspiring documentary makers Barlow had this piece of advice: “You’ve got to really, really, really want it if you want to get into television… don’t even knock on the door of any major media company unless you can shoot picture, record sound and cut”