So long as they’ve been a part of the literary and theatrical canon, Shakespeare’s plays have been staged in a countless number of iterations, reiterations and reinterpretations that best bear the signs of the times. Hamlet gets ’50s greaser makeover; I’ve even seen A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed in the context of the African savannah at the height of British colonialism, but that’s neither here nor there. But for all the ambitious remixes of B-Shakes’ work, few these days opt to go the more traditional route. A new production of Romeo and Juliet that premiered this week courtesy of Tragedians of the City and Northwest Passage offers old-school interpretation fit for modern times with an all-male cast of the Bard’s bad romance.
There should not be anything subversive about these scenes of love and lust and marriage between two men on the stage, particularly in New York City, particularly in 2012," the production team writes on the play’s Kickstarter page. "But in a season where a field of presidential candidates can openly proclaim the wrongness of homosexuality, the unintended politics of traditional Elizabethan casting, should be openly embraced."
Anya Saffir, fresh off the Pipeline Theatre’s production of Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle, directs, and the production stars Michael Piazza (no, not that one) and John Early (previously of Pipeline’s Psycho Beach Party and soon to be featured in a guest appearance on 30 Rock) as Romeo and Juliet, respectively. The play features new music from Cormac Bluestone, who is best known for his composition work on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Romeo and Juliet runs from March 1st until the 17th at the Chernuchin Theater at the American Theatre of Actors, and tickets can be ordered here. Oh, and the show needs your help on Kickstarter to keep the production afloat and, more importantly, tickets affordable, a tall order in New York as you know. For more information, check out the official production website and the video below: