It’s the oldest story in the book: boy meets girl, and boy’s respective gang kills girl’s cousin, who is a member of her respective gang. An underage wedding and costume ball are thrown in along the way and, eventually, everyone dies.
Well, the light from yonder is about to break through the Tomlinson Theater. This season, Temple’s theater department will perform William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” from March 25-April 6 under the direction of David Ingram.
A tale of star-crossed lovers, bitter rivalry and the world’s most notorious murder-suicide, “Romeo and Juliet” is likely the most influential piece of Elizabethan drama to resonate through modern culture.
From Baz Luhrman’s star-studded update to Ingram’s own take, the story has transcended the boundaries of time and place, interpreted everywhere from medieval London to contemporary Los Angeles.
Temple joins the legacy with a pronounced sense of ambiguity: The play is set in no particular time, no particular place.
Ingram is aiming for an aesthetic of “unified anachronism” to keep the audience focused on the story and obtain license for punk-rock fashion and iambic pentameter to exist on stage together.
Costume designer Stephanie Nichols, third-year MFA design candidate, drew inspiration everywhere from modern fashion powerhouse Dolce and Gabbana to garb Shakespeare would have bartered himself for.
“Attempting to place the show in a non-specific place in a non-specific time is very risky,” Nichols said. “Cohesive unity, then, must be achieved through the intersection and combination of disparate – and often contradictory – elements.”
And it’s not all petticoats and vintage prom dresses – expect swords.
“The director wanted to make sure that the fights set up the violence in the world that surrounds the play, and also the passion in which these characters live their lives,” said fight coordinator John Bellomo, the theater department adjunct responsible for coordinating the numerous fight sequences throughout the production.
“Romeo and Juliet” will be staged at the Tomlinson Theater on March 25 at 6 p.m., March 26-27 at 8 p.m., March 31-April 3 at 8 p.m. and an additional matinee show on April 3 at 2 p.m. High school matinees are scheduled for March 29-30 and April 2. Tickets, free for Temple students with a GAF card, are available at the Temple Arts Box Office on the second floor of Annenberg Hall. For more information, call the box office at (215) 204-1122.
Matt Donnelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org