Shakespeare’s R & J

I am a lover of Shakespeare.  My English Lit students get more than their fair share of my love for Shakespearean sonnets and plays.  I’m always interested when I discover a new adaptation of one of his plays such as Scotland, PA based on Macbeth or Were the World Mine based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I recently came across another adaptation, Shakespeare’s R & J, based on Romeo and Juliet.  As with each of these there is a unique twist.  Scotland, PA takes place in a fast food restaurant, whereas Were the World Mine is a retelling using a high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Shakespeare’s R & J is a refreshing contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy by Joe Calarco.  We all know the story–it’s everyone’s story. Romeo and Juliet has endured 400 and more years because it’s a story about love; in fact, it’s about that rarest of all things: first love. Shakespeare’s R & J is said to be an arresting, vibrant and hot-blooded adaptation of Romeo and Juliet that pulsates with an adolescent abandon and electricity of which Romeo himself might approve. 

Taking place after curfew in the world of a parochial boarding school for boys, four repressed students discover Shakespeare’s incredible love story. What starts off as a lighthearted reading of the forbidden text gradually becomes more dangerous as these young men are allowed to explore their pent up energy and adolescent passion which has been boiling under the surface all along. 

Their experiment ends in an impassioned and honest performance of the play without the restrictions of gender, race or sexuality. With no set, no costume changes or props (except a piece of red fabric), this retelling of Romeo and Julie sounds like it would be a wonderful play to watch.  I hope one day, I will get to see it.

Mauckingbird Theatre Company remounts its critically acclaimed production of Shakespeare’s R & Jat the Caplan Theater, The University of the Arts, 211 South Broad Street, Philadelphia on Friday, May 3 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, May 4 at 5 and 8 p.m. The play is being produced for Equality Forum 2013. Directed by Artistic Director Peter Reynolds, the play features four exciting young actors in this hot-blooded reimagining of Shakespeare’s masterpiece.  If I were in the Philadelphia area, I would love to see it.  If anyone who is in the Philadelphia area goes to see it, please let me know how it was, or if anyone has seen it before, I’d love to know what you thought.

To purchase tickets, click here.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

4 responses to “Shakespeare’s R & J

  • Coop

    I've never gotten into Shakespeare. Can't say I've enjoyed it.

  • Jay M.

    Come on up, we can catch the train to Philly…or heck, I'd drive it, it's only 4 or 5 hours max.Love Shakespeare, got into it when we did Midsummer Night's Dream in college and I passed Jigsaw 101 ripping Lions Rampant for the set, and then making smoke for King Oberon to appear thru. I liked the storyline, too. HAHAHAHAPeace <3Jay

  • Anonymous

    You may have seen this already

  • gerry

    Joe… If you haven't seen it, you might want to take a look at "Private Romeo" a film out in 2011 (I think)that sets an adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet" in a military school.

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