Wherefore art thou Romeo?


Freshmen students outside the theater at Fort Lewis wait to be seated to watch the play “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare; they had been reading the text in HLA classes. Capulet is the name of one of the two warring families depicted in the play.

On the 13th and 14th of April (a Thursday and a Friday respectively), the freshmen of DHS attended a live rendition of Romeo and Juliet at Fort Lewis College. The honors classes are currently in the midst of a unit on Shakespeare that includes reading Romeo and Juliet, so the play turned out to be a perfect way to supplement their learning.

The play was directed by Felicia Lansbury Meyer and starred Siena Widen as Romeo and Maya Mouret as Juliet. Other favorite characters included Mercutio, played by Kieran Peck, and Nurse, played by Haley Sandford. The play was a modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s original play, set in a modern mega-city. Meyer wrote in the play’s programs, “We tend to think that adapting classic plays to another time and place is a new practice, but Shakespeare did it in the 16th century presumably to better reach his audience.”

“A lot of the scenes I was confused on, I finally realized what was happening,” Layla Breese, a freshman who got to see the play on Thursday reported. Undeniably, Shakespeare is meant to be watched, not read. Unfortunately, Language Arts classes rarely get to watch his plays in person, especially in rural towns like Durango. That alone makes this opportunity doubly special for the freshman HLA and ELA classes. 

Breese thought that, “The actors were very good and all of them were very attractive.” Mena Ziegler, the other freshman in the room, seemed to agree with this sentiment, particularly for Mercutio. “It’s probably cause he was shirtless the whole time.” A character like Mercutio can be difficult to understand left desiccating on 400-year-old pages. In action, he’s the life of the party (and sometimes annoying).

Other than Mercutio, Nurse was a well-adored character. “She was exactly how I pictured her, so motherly and nice,” Ziegler fawned. “She was a really good actor and she had a great presence.” Sandford, who played Nurse, was hilarious. People strewn across the audience laughed every time she opened her mouth to deliver a new line. Oftentimes, the humor in Shakespeare’s plays can be lost in the classroom. Between being required reading, the struggle to understand what exactly the characters are saying, and the fundamental fact that the spoken word fails to come across on the page, the play doesn’t seem very funny. But given a chance to grace the stage, the play is equal parts rom-com and tragedy.

“Although by the end, I was getting kind of bored, just because it’s a two-hour-long play,” Ziegler admitted to me. Having already read the script, some of the surprise elements were lost on her. Either way, two hours to a high school student is a really long time. You could go to sports practice, participate in a club, get a sizable chunk of homework done, or be marked present in two block periods within that time frame.

The play was definitely worth the challenge it posed to the students’ attention span. If you are interested in seeing it for yourself, the show will run through April 13-15 at 7:30 pm and April 15th and 16th at 2:00 pm.