Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life; Whose misadventur’d piteous overthrows Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife. The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love, And the continuance of their parents’ rage, Which, but their children’s end, naught could remove, Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage; The which if you with patient ears attend, What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
- Prologue from William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet
The TA Players put on their production of William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet in the fall of 2011. The show was directed by David Hanright, an Arts/Theater teacher at Thornton Academy, with assistance from retired TA English teacher, Chris Queally. Queally, the resident Shakespeare aficionado, helped the cast to understand the motives behind their characters, as well as to understand what it is they were actually saying. Thornton Academy Dance teacher, Emma Arenstam, also assisted by choreographing the dance numbers. However, this production wasn’t the Romeo & Juliet you “read” in high school English entirely (for a brief, informal plot, read below) – it had a 60s twist to it. The chorus was replaced with a 60s DJ, playing tunes like “It’s Your Thing” by the Isley Brothers and “Stop! In The Name of Love” by Diana Ross & the Supremes. The cast was dressed in tie-dye, leather and fringe. The Capulets were hippies, the Montagues more corporation based, although both competing in the town, and both still loathing one another. This production was put on on December 8, 9, and 10 in the Harry P. Garland II Auditorium.
BACKGROUND: Supposedly written in 1591, and first published in 1595, the play follows Romeo – a Montague – and Juliet – a Capulet – and their love story despite their families feuding. Nothing quite sums up the plot like the Prologue, however for a more modern explanation: Romeo is heartbroken, so his friends and him decide to go to the Capulet’s Masquerade Ball. There, he meets Juliet and they fall in love. They are determined to be together, even though their families want to kill each other, and eventually many brawls lead to the banishment of Romeo. Juliet, heartbroken, still wants to be with him, so the Friar convinces her to drink this potion that will make her appear dead, claiming he will send Romeo a message. Romeo never gets the memo, sneaks back into Verona only to find Juliet “dead”, so he kills himself by poison. Then Juliet wakes up, sees him dead, and “Oh happy dagger”, kills herself too. After discovering the deaths of their children and hearing that their feud was the cause of it, the Montagues and the Capulets stop fighting, and the story comes to a close with the words of Prince Escalus: “For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” (For a more detailed plot of the play, try Sparknotes.)