An Illawarra semi-professional theatre company is bringing gore and equality to Shakespeare classics, in a bid to make them more relevant to young people.
The Dire Theatre has modernised Macbeth with an "an apocalyptic, horror aesthetic" and transformed Romeo and Juliet with an all female cast, which will run as a double bill at the Wollongong Workshop Theatre from March 5 to 14.
The public season is a prelude to taking the shows into high schools around the Illawarra, particularly those identified as being in disadvantaged areas.
"Most students studying Shakespeare in secondary schools will not see a live theatre production during their schooling," said company founder Adam O'Brien.
"This entire project was developed and aimed at poorer institutions because as a kid I was exceptionally poor, as was my school (Warilla High School) and as such opportunities like this were not available to me and my cohort.
"The idea to make theatre available to potentially disadvantaged young people and schools was inspired by my high school drama teacher who fought tooth and nail to get my class to one showing of King Lear."
That same drama teacher, he said, also inspired him to study the arts and performance at university including his masters, and start The Dire Theatre Company which is now in its sixth year of operation.
Each work has been adapted in consultation with current teachers to make the plays "punchy and relatable" that directly address the current student curriculum.
This entire project was developed and aimed at poorer institutions because as a kid I was exceptionally poor, as was my school.Adam O'Brien
While the word "horror" was used to describe the rework of Macbeth, O'Brien assured the play would be suitable for teen audiences.
"Our use of multimedia, realistic prop and costume, jump scares, and ghostly apparitions are a non traditional take on the work which increases the embedded horror of the original story," he said.
O'Brien said selected schools have been invited to the upcoming public season and to further discuss the project with them.
The project is scheduled to officially start in schools during Term 2.