Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Romeo, Romeo... wherefore art thou, Romeo?

This May, First Stage’s Young Company – the Theater Academy’s collegiate level acting program for high school students – is presenting its first professionally staged production of a Shakespearean masterpiece, ROMEO AND JULIET.

ROMEO AND JULIET will feature an alternating cast of 24 Young Company performers in the play’s lead roles, including Romeo and Juliet, alongside 5 professional actors. Through this multi-generational production, First Stage will provide a unique Shakespearean performance experience for our young actors and allow teen audiences to connect more closely with the characters onstage.

"This production is the culmination of years of advanced classical training with our award-winning teen classical performers and professional actors,” said Associate Artistic/Young Company Director John Maclay.

To engage more schools and students, Maclay edited Shakespeare’s script to 75 minutes, focusing on material that was critical to the plot such as the relationship between Romeo and Juliet and the perpetuating violence in the street.  By reducing the runtime, First Stage will be able to offer two school performances per day, doubling the number of local students who can experience the play.  In addition to performances, First Stage aims to reach 9,600 middle and high school students through interactive pre- and post-show workshops led by First Stage teaching artists.

“This opportunity perfectly aligns with First Stage’s continued effort to broaden our audience by reaching even more middle and high school aged students,” said First Stage Education Director Julia Magnasco. “We are thrilled to be able to introduce Shakespeare to an entirely new audience through this initiative.” 

First Stage’s ROMEO AND JULIET was chosen to participate in the National Endowment for the Arts’ Shakespeare in American Communities: Shakespeare for a New Generation.  This national grant program supports Shakespeare performances and educational activities for middle and high school students around the country. Out of the 40 recipients, First Stage was the only children’s theater to receive this prestigious award.

First Stage invites everyone 13 and up to attend the Young Company’s production of ROMEO AND JULIET. Public performances are May 16-17, 2014 at 7 p.m. at the Rosa Parks Auditorium at Golda Meir School. Tickets are available at www.firststage.org or (414) 267-2961.

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