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Company Reinvents “Romeo and Juliet”

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Photo credit: Stacey Kuster

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Written by: adminFebruary 15, 2017

By: Joshua Storrs

While there may be debate on which of The Bard’s plays is the best, there are only a few that reached the same level of fame as his tale of young love blooming amid the chaos of two warring families.

Longstanding local theater company All for One Productions, will be staging Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” February 17 – 26 at the Artslab theater. The play will be performed in the round, meaning the audience will surround the stage on all sides.

As the artistic director of All for One, Lauren Nichols has many responsibilities, including directing and production design for “Romeo and Juliet.” She said this is a play that’s both engaging and accessible to a wide audience.

“There’s lots of comedy in it,” Nichols said. “There’s wonderful sword fighting. There’s a masked ball with dancing. There’s romance and beautiful costumes. It is a very energetic show and it has something for everyone.”

Nichols said her first experience with Shakespeare was years ago, seeing “Romeo and Juliet” at IPFW. This is All for One’s first Shakespeare play and they were inspired to do it in the round after seeing Shakespearmachine’s production of “The Comedy of Errors” last year.

“Our stage is going to feel as though it takes up the entire room,” Nichols said. “We’re completely breaking the fourth wall. The actors will speak directly to the audience and really try to draw them into the action.”

Andrew Canaveral, an actor and senior general studies major at IPFW, plays the part of Tybalt. Canaveral said he finds acting in the round to be an interesting challenging.

“In the round is something that is very special since you can’t cheat to the audience at all,” he said “I have to consider that the audience is not looking at us from a singular perspective, so essentially I have to cover all four corners in order to allow every audience member to get the full theatrical experience.”

Canaveral said although some see the romance in “Romeo & Juliet” as exaggerated and over-the-top, he’s always thought something doesn’t deserve to be famous until it starts being mocked. He said he thinks the play is less about true love and more about young love and its consequences.

“Yes it’s ridiculous and brash but at the same time that’s how teenagers are,” Canaveral said. “If we look back at our own teenage years, we have been rash about different things.”

The romance does not seem ridiculous at all in the historical context of the play, Nichols said.

“We have to be really careful when we’re looking at a piece of literature not to impose a 21st century sensibility on it,” Nichols said. “In the 1500s,  life is short, disease can cut you down tomorrow, someone can stab you in the back. There’s so much that makes life tenuous … So I think that is a big part of why we should be able to accept that these people can meet, fall in love and want to get married.”

One of the most interesting things they have done in their interpretation of the play is add a wordless prologue before the opening narration. The prologue helps the audience understand how large conflicts can grow out of seemingly insignificant events, Nichols said.

“It’s a pretty timeless story,” Canaveral said. “The iconography of it, the two teenagers falling in love, the clash between two families that leads to death, to suffering. Chaos erupting from something so pure, that never gets old.”

Shows are Feb 17-19 and Feb 24-26. Curtain is at 7:30pm Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30pm on Sundays. Tickets purchased online through Feb 16 are $17 for adults, $14 for seniors and $11 for students and groups of 10 people or more. Tickets at the door are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and $11 for students.