Senior to star as peacemaker Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet
by Hadiyah Weaver
Julia Hopkins will play the role of Benvolio, which is usually played by a male, in this semester’s production of Romeo and Juliet; she was casted in part due due to her advance stage combat skills. The senior theater major began practicing martial arts in high school with Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai. She is now a certified actor combatant and the best stage fighter at Temple.
Before she came to Temple University, Hopkins participated in MacGuffin Theater in Center City after watching her oldest brother join. She initially started in summer camps, but then began making friends and fell in love with Theater.
“I was lucky enough to have parents that didn’t force me to become [a doctor or anything], they were just like ‘Yeah, do whatever you want.’" She laughed.
Hopkins is currently certified in eight different disciplines: Single Sword, Quarterstaff, Long Sword, Unarmed, Knife, Small Sword, Rapier and Dagger, and Sword and Shield. With those eight disciplines, Hopkins is classified as an advanced actor combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors.
She credits Ian Rose, stage combat instructor at Temple University for a lot of her training.
In the spring of her freshman year, Hopkins took Rose’s single sword course and loved it. That summer, Hopkins began taking Rose’s classes private classes, and learned Quarterstaff, the practice inolving use of long pole or staff.
Hopkins auditioned for Romeo and Juliet right before Thanksgiving break last semester, and was surprised to be casted as Benvolio. The cast rehearses six days a week for four hours each week day, and six hours on Saturday. Hopkins is also the fight captain for the production, supervising the staged fights and managing the safety of the actors during the run.
As for what’s next for Hopkins when she graduates, she’s unsure at the moment.
“I have no idea.” She chuckled, but is looking forward to what happens.
Hopkins is thankful for the Temple faculty that has taught her what she knows from Rose to acting professors Cheryl Williams and David Ingram.
“The best thing about Temple is that all of the faculty are working as actors or technicians. They are actually working in Philadelphia so they are not only up-to-date with how all of this works, but they are great with connections and resources for when you graduate.” Hopkins said.
Hopkins aspires to do stunt work in action films and stage combat works in the future. Whatever she does, Hopkins wants to stick with the combat aspect.
“I definitely want to stick with the fighting whether it’s onstage, in film, or in a ring or something.” Hopkins said.
Romeo and Juliet, directed by Douglas C. Wager, runs February 28 - March 3 and March 15-18 in Tomlinson Theater.