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Of Capulets and Capitalism, part 2

romeo-juliet-logoA guest post by Nate Chen, who portrays Lord Capulet, Juliet’s father, in our production.

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When I sat down to consider how to best play the part of THE Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, I wasn’t thinking of commerce or mercenaries. But
after reading the script, one thing that bothered me was that I couldn’t put my finger on what Capulet’s place in Verona society was supposed to be. He’s important, of course, and he wants everyone to know it. But why is he important?

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ROMEO & JULIET: Of Capulets and Capitalism, part 1

romeo-juliet-logoA guest post by Nate Chen, who plays Lord Capulet (Juliet’s father)

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Nate first offers some background to the social and political setting of the play:

Shortly before 1000 AD an odd phenomenon started taking place in Italy. People started to immigrate into Italian cities in large numbers. Now in most feudal societies of the era that kind of mass immigration was impossible – you swore your allegiance to a feudal landlord quite early, and paid rent on the land you worked for the rest of your life when you weren’t serving as a foot soldier in your liege’s army. But in italyItaly, city denizens – or citizens for short – were freed of their allegiance by virtue of living behind really thick walls and the assurances of the city government. This, along with a handful of other guarantees, was one of the first instances of people having rights backed by government.

For most people, the principle of being free of a renter’s life wouldn’t be enough to convince them to uproot from the familiar and go somewhere else.

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Staging Shakespeare

romeo-juliet-logoI can hear the murmurs…”Why Shakespeare?”  “Why Romeo & Juliet?”  “Why in the round?”

I am so glad you asked!

–Shakespeare, because he is the high-water mark of English literature and English language.  Many words and phrases still in common use today can be traced to the Bard, and he is still consistently studied by high schoolers across the US and around the world.  Moreover, afO always desires to enrich as well as entertain,

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AN afO FIRST: SHAKESPEARE!!

romeo-juliet-logo      We have spent a number of years kicking around the idea of doing Shakespeare on our Home Stage. But it never seemed like the right time. Until now!  Having found the right show and the right concept to bring it to fresh life…God saw to it that we assembled the right cast, too. Young, enthusiastic and very hard working, they have risen to the challenge of Shakespeare’s language, AND playing him in the round, AND adding sword fights and Elizabethan dance.

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THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS: ADAPTING CHILDREN’S LITERATURE TO THE STAGE

Kenneth Grahame wrote The Wind in the Willows during what is known as the Golden Age of British children’s literature. Consider that between 1900 and 1930:

  • Beatrix Potter wrote and illustrated her many picture books for young children, beginning with The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
  • A.A. Milne created Winnie the Pooh.
  • E. Nesbit wrote her wonderful children’s novels, including The Railway Children, Five Children and It, and The Enchanted Castle.
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote A Little Princess, The Secret Garden and Little Lord Fauntleroy.
  • J.M. Barrie created Peter Pan.

And this list is not exhaustive at all. There was also an explosion of American children’s literature at around the same time, The Wizard of Oz, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Pollyanna, to name a few.

The wonderful thing about all these books, to my mind, is that they are not written “down” to children, over-simplified and dripping with moral lessons. Rather, they are strong original stories which are amusing, engaging and often thought-provoking, but which are most appropriate to the genre (fairly new at the time) of children’s literature.

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