Did you know that there’s a new version of Romeo and Juliet set to hit movie theaters this year? It’s got an all-star cast: Hailee Steinfeld (remember when True Grit was a thing?) as Juliet, Damian Lewis as her father, Ed Westwick as her cousin, and Paul Giamatti as that stupid priest who literally screws everything up. Good lord, people, do I hate Romeo and Juliet. I wouldn’t have much of an opinion, probably, if I hadn’t seen about fifteen different versions of it. Of course, Shakespeare’s classic tale of horny teenagers whose parents hate each other is pretty much entry-level Elizabethan drama, which means that everyone loves it. Everyone loves it so much that it’s coming back to Broadway with Orlando Bloom (thank God he’s working again) and Condola Rashad (Phylicia’s daughter). I suppose you can guess what new spin this production will give to this old, tired play. I could go on, but no one needs another lengthy blog post about Romeo and Juliet, either.
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A car, a car, my kingdom for a car!
The skeleton in question is a bit dinged up, to put it lightly, which is consistent with accounts of the 15th-century king being the last English monarch to die in battle: the skull had been “cleaved” by a “bladed implement,” while a “barbed metal arrowhead” was found lodged in the vertebrae. And here I thought the War of the Roses sounded like a perfectly civil bloodbath.
What’s more, there’s a distinctly familiar shape to the bones.
[T]he spinal abnormalities suggest the individual had severe scoliosis, though was not a hunchback, as he was portrayed by Shakespeare in the play of the king’s name.
Even so, the scoliosis seen in the skeleton would’ve made the man’s right shoulder appear visibly higher than the left one.
Nonetheless, it should take another twelve weeks to confirm that—wait a minute, did I read that correctly? Shakespeare was exaggerating the physical appearance of a historical personality in his bio-drama? FABRICATING FACTS? Next you’ll tell me that he didn’t base The Tempest on an actual wizard he knew. My god, he’s no better than Jonah Lehrer.
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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: