Director Damaso Rodriguez is bringing Shakespeare’s classic “Romeo and Juliet” story to A Noise Within, and interpreting it differently than most people know.
The story is the same – a love story about a young man and a young woman who come from feuding families and are unable to openly share their relationship because of the hatred between the two lineages. Tragedy follows.
“I thought it would be exciting to take on the most known Shakespeare play,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez, taking inspiration from a Cuban theater company, will replace the setting, costumes and props with something outside of the traditional Italian romanticism. It is set in a graffiti alley, which is completely wrong for what’s happening; it’s very “raw, gritty and kind of dangerous,” he said.
The costumes will be contemporary and modern. The props will be somewhat unexpected, as well. For example, the actors will be using “swords” made of pipes.
In Havana, Rodriguez saw theatre companies without a lot of money putting on plays with minimalism in mind. They found objects for props, used clothes from the actors’ own closets, and really had to rely on their skills to get the messages across to their audiences.
“Once you get out of the romantic trappings, what’s left is what the play really has to say,” Rodriguez said.
He explained that “Romeo and Juliet” is about humans, and whether they are more inclined towards love or hate. Rodriguez said he believes it is love.
“Hate or prejudice is taught,” he said, “which means each generation has a choice whether to carry on their parents’ prejudice.”
It’s tragic that Romeo and Juliet had to die for their families to end their feud, but it allows the audience to understand that each generation is capable of changing its society. This is a story that needs to be told over and over again as prejudices continue to exist, even if present to a lesser extent, Rodriguez said.
The cast includes Amir Abdullah, Christian Barillas, Alan Blumenfeld, Will Bradley, June Carryl, Robertson Dean, Charlotte Gulezian, Rafael Goldstein, Chase Green, Carina Haller, Jill Hill, Donnla Hughes, Seven Pierce-English, Marcos J. Ruiz, Lawrence Sonderling, Kathryn Ventress and Troy Whiteley.
“Romeo and Juliet” will hold its opening night at A Noise Within on Feb. 20, and will run through May 8.
For tickets and a full schedule, call 626-356-3100 or visit www.ANoiseWithin.org.