Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Susannah Martin
Photos by Simone Finney
Illustration by Ayumi Namba
Presented by Ubuntu Theater Project
May 17 – June 9, 2019
THE MERCURY NEWS “This is a vital and visceral “Romeo and Juliet” that would serve nicely to introduce a new generation to this tragic tale of hot- blooded youth. What’s more, it might even show seasoned theatergoers who’ve seen that play far too many times how much life there still is, or can be, in the old story.” – Sam Hurwitt
BERKELEYSIDE “A downtown Oakland street magically became a road in medieval Verona, as the enchanted audience stood and watched the opening outdoor scenes of Ubuntu Theater Project’s lively and lovely production of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. When the scene changed to indoors, the actors and audience moved inside a warehouse with seating, attached to the Flax Art and Design store on 15th Street in Oakland. This indoor/outdoor device was one of several ingenious touches employed by talented director Susannah Martin…“ – Emily S. Mendel
THEATRIUS “Director Susannah Martin spotlights our cynical, bitter neglect in her enthusiastic and hauntingly youthful “Romeo and Juliet.”… Martin takes a fresh look at these “star-crossed” lovers. Her inventive staging and inspired casting give the production a downtown Oakland feel, while the old story remains poignant.“ – Jordan Freed
Romeo and Juliet is a play about coming-of-age in a violent, deeply divided world. How do broken societal structures thwart what might have been everyday teenage rebellions and turn those acts of defiance into something deadly?
The resistance – of parents, friends, and the powers that be – to Romeo and Juliet’s steps and declarations away from the authority figures of Verona force our two protagonists to take their lives into their own hands. Moreover, Romeo and Juliet’s actions force their community to reinforce stereotypical gender roles, expectations, and the systems and structures of power in a monied, privileged society.
In the play, we watch as Romeo and Juliet experience mounting expectations, both from themselves and others, about how they’re supposed to behave in society, what – and whom – they’re supposed to want, and how their imminent adulthood is supposed to look. The stakes start high – they get more deadly as the play progresses. To reject the violent world order to which their parents remain loyal, our young lovers choose to escape into their own secret world – they choose love.
For this production, casting teenagers in the roles of Romeo and Juliet was of utmost importance to me, not only because those are the characters that Shakespeare wrote, but also, because the teenage mind and spirit – the mercurial moods and rapid-fire shifts from deep despair to great joy – is embedded in, and endemic to, this story. A youthful heart is the driving pulse of the play.
Teenagers exist in a liminal space, between childhood and adulthood. When you grow up with a decades-long feud between your family and another, then the trope of youth – that everything feels like it’s life or death – isn’t a trope at all. Life and death are palpably real for Romeo and Juliet. And in Shakespeare’s text, a sense of an abiding innocence coupled with a wisdom-beyond-their-years – of a love story between two young people who’ve already seen their fair share of anger, hatred, divisiveness, death and destruction – feels very ripe for this 21st Century world that our young people are both coming-of-age in, and inheriting.
Romeo / Chachi Delgado
Juliet / Sarah Camacho
Samson + Paris + Apothecary / Kieran Beccia
Gregory + Serving Man + Captain of the Watch / Carla Gallardo
Abraham + Balthazar + Friar John / Jamella Cross
Benvolio / Kevin Rebultan
Tybalt / Nathaniel Andalis
Capulet / Benoit Monin
Lady Capulet / Margherita Ventura
Montague / Michael Aldrete
The Prince / Champagne Hughes
Nurse / Emilie Whelan
Mercutio / Michael Curry*
Friar Lawrence / William Oliver
*Member of AEA
Choreography / Jamella Cross + Indigo Jackson
Costume Design / Alice Ruiz
Dramaturge / Philippa Kelly
Fight Director / Dave Maier
Lighting Design / Stephanie Johnson
Master Electrician / Kieran Beccia
Production Manager / Alex Kort
Properties + Scenic Design / Angrette McCloskey + Jalua Dell
Sound Design / Teddy Hulsker
Stage Managers / Ayumi Namba + Celeste Kamiya