Star-Crossed Stage

UWEC’s Romeo and Juliet bends The Bard’s gender roles

Bailey Berg

 
This is not a picture of UWEC’s R&J production, but it looks cool.

Romeo and Juliet. The young star-cross’d lover’s names have become part of the English idiom. Across the globe people use these names to signify romantic love, even if they’ve never read the Shakespearian tragedy, a testament to the play’s extraordinary popularity, so it seems only right that at least one local school perform it this year. Under the direction of Illinois Shakespeare Festival veteran and UWEC professor, F. Reed Brown, a handful of Blugold actors and actresses will take on The Bard’s prized story. The basic premise is this: two Veronian families, the Montagues, and the Capulets, have been feuding with each other for years, but after a chance meeting their children fall in love, but know that their families will never allow them to be together. The couple ends up getting hitched in secret, in hopes of reconciliation between their families. When short tempers lead to deadly consequences, the young lovers find themselves on the run, facing impossible odds, and making desperate decisions. UWEC’s adaptation will be done in the traditional Renaissance Italy interpretation, and one of the unique aspects is that it will come with a bit of gender bending some of the roles. Brown said, “Shakespeare cast boys as women, and just like color-blind casting, if it does not change the intent of the playwright I feel it is important to expose students to the idea that gender and race and disability are not barriers any longer.”

UWEC Theatre Presents: Romeo + Juliet • May 6-15 • Kjer Theatre, UWEC campus • 7:30pm all dates, but May 9 (1:30pm) • $10 general, $6 youth, $8 seniors, $2.50 students • 836-3727

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