Why a Requiem?
A glooming peace this morning with it brings.
The sun for sorrow will not show his head.
Go hence to have more talk of these sad things.
Some shall be pardoned, and some punishèd.
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.
Romeo and Juliet, 5.3.16-21
So ends Romeo and Juliet. Our production picks up the story one year later. The dead have been laid to rest, but the violent feud has continued to rage in Verona. An official edict from the Prince commands the parent generation to recount the tragic events of their children to settle the matter once and for all.
From Producing Director Zak Berkman:
“This production emerged from a ‘What If’ I posed to our Artistic Staff a few years ago. What if the parents, nurse, and friar re-enacted the tragedy of Romeo & Juliet? What if they had to play all the roles, step into all those lives? How might this spur cross-generational conversations about cycles of violence, familial loyalty, young romance?”
Director Reading says, “By playing their own children, the parents get a change to truly understand what the young people felt, and how they made their most shocking decisions. The older characters receive a gift that any parent would cherish – the opportunity to bridge the generation gap and see the world through their children’s eyes.
“I hope audiences will share in the joy the parents feel as they embody their smart, vibrant kids falling in love for the first time,” she says. “And I hope audiences will connect with the parents’ struggle as well, as they assess their part in the horrific events that ended their children’s lives.
“The parents have so many questions at the close of Shakespeare’s play,” says Reading. “They need to process it all, re-examine what they’ve done, take responsibility for their actions, and figure out how to change the system so their tragedy will never happen to anyone else.
“In our production, their reckoning becomes an inspiring public event in which the entire audience takes part.”