Imagine it's 1591 or so, you are William Shakespeare, and you've decided it's time you wrote a decent love story - a tragedy. Your last tragedy, Titus Andronicus, was set in Rome. It was well received by the bloodsport enthusiasts
among the London theatergoers and your popularity as a playwright is growing with each new play. Giving thought to the best setting for a love story, you have an artistic epiphany and decide on Verona.
Now, about 420 years later, the Grassroots Shakespeare Company is bringing you his brilliant and lamentable tragedy: Romeo and Juliet. The images displayed on this page are from that "fair Verona". A popular spot known as Juliet's balcony, (above left) a distant view of a Roman amphitheater dating from 40 A.D., (above right) and a quaint chapel rooftop (left) give us a sense of the romantic scenery in which these "star crossed lovers take their life."
Over the past few weeks we've been having a royal time creating our own little Verona. Of course our tight budget compels us to build our Verona out of the characters, rather than elaborate set pieces or costumes, and we wouldn't have it any other way. Our Verona emerges out of the characters we've been exploring, and their relationships to one another.
For example, Verona became real to me during one particularly memorable rehearsal in which we enjoyed an hour of character interviews. One by one, the members of our cast took the stage and we proceeded to ask them questions. "Juliet, how old are you?", "Romeo, How do you feel about the Capulets?", "Lord Capulet, why do you hate the Montague's?", "Tybalt, have you ever been in love?" etc. To these questions each actor playfully and enthusiastically responded, and block by block our Verona began to take shape.
Our Verona is a world with a 45-year-old friar turning the cogs, mischievous teens, a sweet (albeit masculine) Nurse, and animosity between Capulets and Montagues. WE still have lot's to explore, but no matter what we do, Verona just won't be Verona without YOU. You, our audience, are the final piece to the puzzle.
So come play with us! Bring a date, bring your friends, and get into it. Pick your family, be it Capulet or Montague, and cheer them on in the infamous Veronan street brawls. If an actor asks you a question, go ahead and answer it. Remember the "fourth wall" wasn't invented until centuries after Shakespeare, so feel free to respond, react, cheer, boo, hiss if you must. We love it all.