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Secret Cinema brought a Summer of Love to London with Romeo + Juliet festival experience

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For three weeks during August, London has been draped in a sea of flamboyant colour and drenched in sunlit romance and shared song, while Shakespearean English has been adopted by Young Hearts across the city.

Secret Cinema, which specialises in creating groundbreaking immersive experiences, has just wrapped their first outdoor summer festival: Secret Cinema Presents William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet.

The sold-out, 12 night show saw nearly 5,000 people attend each night and 60,000 people in total, placing the film back in the Box Office during the entirety of its run and generating over £3m.

The festival saw a corner of West London transformed into the lush, stylised world of Verona Beach from Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 classic masterpiece William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet and featured live bands, artists, DJ’s, Gospel choirs and plenty of surprises.

The Capulet Mansion swayed to the sounds of disco played by a troupe of dazzling drag performers and artists, Montague Mechanics cranked with menacing scenes and meetings with underworld mob bosses, Queen Mab intoxicated individuals with a heady mix of enchanting performances and secretive splendour and Mariachi bands soundtracked the site with reinterpreted versions of 90’s classics.

Fabien Riggall, Founder and Creative Director, Secret Cinema said, “This was the perfect film to launch our summer festival format. Over 60,000 attended, bringing colour, energy and love to Verona Beach! I am incredibly proud of Matt Bennett, the creative director of this show, for his creativity and flair to direct this production. We also thank the extraordinary Baz Luhrmann for creating such a wonderful film for us to bring to life…”

Baz Luhrmann, Director and Producer of the 1996 film William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet said, “Secret Cinema continues to push the boundaries and has innovated the way that audiences want to engage and participate with their favourite films.  Secret Cinema has created a whole new art form, and a new way of appreciating film and theatre.”

Matt Bennett, Creative Director, Secret Cinema presents William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet agreed, “It was a true honour welcoming Baz Luhrmann back to Sycamore Grove and to see how vividly his film aligned with our own world of fair Verona Beach. The themes explored in his version of Romeo + Juliet remain so relevant today, and Secret Cinema is proud to have brought to life such varied elements from the story; from love, music and 90s nostalgia all the way to the dark side of tragedy, youth violence and the urgent need for society to support young people facing inequality and exclusion.”

As with all Secret Cinema events, a bespoke local community engagement programme ran alongside the production allowing youth groups to experience the show through dedicated screenings and performances.

The show was also proud to partner with youth-focussed charity MAC-UK who work with troubled youngsters within their own communities suffering from exclusion, mental health, education and social issues. Secret Cinema ran a series of programmes, courses and creative activities in Ealing and Hounslow that empowered young people to address youth violence and the issues facing their peers, while at the same time addressing their mental health and wellbeing. The partnership with MAC-UK raised almost £30,000.

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