Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare’s classic tale of star-crossed love, will be presented by the American Shakespeare Company on Monday, March 1, at Iowa Wesleyan College. The performance will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the college’s Chapel Auditorium. Sponsored by the Haselmayer Endowment for the Arts, the play is open to the public at no admission charge.
With its ravishing language and uproarious comedy, Romeo and Juliet celebrates love’s triumph and its trivialities. Verona’s walls embrace the volatility of youth as well as the wisdom and restraint that often escape young and old alike. Dance, athleticism, and swordplay share the stage with sonnets, bawdy wit, and soul-searching speeches in this profoundly human and always surprising masterpiece.
According to Artistic Director Jim Warren, “The timeless truth Shakespeare tapped into throughout his plays is that human beings, young and old, are full of both positive and negative qualities, heroics and foibles, beauty and warts. The English language was still developing when Shakespeare wrote his plays and Shakespeare himself invented many words and used others differently than anybody before or after him. His use of language is what makes Shakespeare great. The kind of language he wrote for the characters in Romeo and Juliet is beautiful and poetic and bawdy and full of life, which is perfect for the story this play tells.”
The American Shakespeare Center of Staunton, Virginia, was founded in 1988 as a professional travelling troupe. The company now includes both resident and touring ensembles, producing 15 plays annually.
The American Shakespeare Center On Tour productions recognize that the actors are not alone in the theatre, and actively shatter the "fourth wall" between actors and audience. As they do on their home stage, ASC On Tour actors surround themselves with audience members on three sides and perform with house lights on at all times. Thus, actors can see the audience, the audience can see the actors, and the audience can see each other. This inclusive arrangement allows the ASC On Tour to recreate the festive sense of community in which patrons of Shakespeare’s Blackfriars reveled during the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. Rather than try to spin its tales through elaborate set pieces and electronic wizardry, the American Shakespeare Center On Tour focuses on performance.
The Blackfriars Playhouse, the world's only re-creation of Shakespeare's indoor theatre, opened in September 2001. The Blackfriars Conference for Shakespeare scholars, first held that same year, draws the world's most prominent authorities on Shakespeare.
The ASC also plans to build an open-air replica of London's second Globe Theatre, which was built in 1614 after the original 1599 structure burned to the ground. By following the basic principles of Renaissance theatrical production, the ASC gives audiences some of the pleasures that an Elizabethan playgoer would have enjoyed.