By Henry Woronicz, Director
Discovering love, in all its complication and confusion, is a large part of growing up. These days especially, it seems that this emotion intrudes on our young at an ever earlier age: the young do not stay young for very long anymore. Perhaps more than any other of Shakespeare’s plays, Romeo and Juliet speaks to the young, and thus any production of the play cannot ignore the turmoil and exhilaration, the despair and joy, the beating pulse of what it means to be young and falling in love.
We have taken our cue for this production from the world we live in now: driven, distracted, and somewhat left to its own devices. We’ve discovered in the play a world too caught up in its own status, so busy with its own likes and dislikes and the pursuit of a single-minded happiness, that it becomes all too easy to dismiss, or even hate, the “other” in our midst. In the middle of this tumult, the play presents two young people, a little awkward, a little shy, not yet sure how to negotiate this rushing world. And we watch them stumble, however unexpectedly, toward that rarest of things: true love (and at first sight, no less). It comes to them in the dark, in a star-lit courtyard, but surrounded by fear and the unknown. They touch its glittering surface for a moment, and then spend the rest of their short lives struggling to regain that effervescence. But their lives are wasted in the attempt, in no small part because they receive precious little guidance on their journey.
For ultimately, Romeo and Juliet is a social tragedy, and it is their families and friends who let these lovers down, and ultimately bear the heavy burden of their community’s loss. Writing of the play, the critic J. A. Bryant Jr. once said, “no one has described more poignantly [than Shakespeare] the beauty of young love … and no one has portrayed more honestly than he the destructiveness of any love which ignores the mortality of those who make it.” He concludes by telling us that Romeo and Juliet both have “a legitimate claim to our respect … and the youth of both relieves them of our ultimate censure, which falls not on the stars, but on all those whose thoughtlessness denied them the time they so desperately needed.”
The IRT produces top-quality, professional theatre that engages, surprises, challenges and entertains people throughout their lifetimes, helping to build a vital and vibrant community.
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