Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist

Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist
Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Md Troopers Assoc #20 & Westminster Md Fire Dept Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist

Thursday, January 24, 2008

“Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?”

Eldersburg and Westminster Eagle Wednesday column

“Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?”

Wednesday, January 23, 2008 column for the Eldersburg and Westminster Eagle By Kevin Dayhoff

“O comfortable friar!  Where is my lord?  I do remember well where I should be, and there I am.  Where is my Romeo?”

Well Romeo, my dear reader, will cometh to a theater near you this weekend, in person at the Theater in the Scott Center at Carroll Community College, courtesy of “The Shakespeare Factory's Distracted Globe Players.”

William Shakespeare’s time-honored play “Romeo and Juliet” is one of his more famous works and it has a little something for everyone.

To refresh your memory, the play features saga of the “star-crossed” love of two teenagers who come from rival families, the Capulets and Montagues.  Romeo Montocchio and Juliet Capelletto, the real couple upon which Shakespeare based his play, 'Romeo and Juliet', were married at Citadella, Italy March 11, 1302.

In a theme that is just as tragic (and relevant) today as it was 400 years ago, the blood-conflict between the two families began many years ago with really little things which got blown out of proportion into a huge dispute - but neither family could recall how it began.

The play also delves into the intergenerational conflict between older folks and two members of the youngest generation who fall in love and simply do not care about the ill feelings in the older generation. 

To Romeo and Juliet, the feud makes no sense.  Their elders are fighting just for the sake of fighting.  It is only after tragedy strikes that the two families realize how wrong they had been.

Last Thursday, I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the production and observe as approximately 300 9th grade students from Century High School watched a portion of the play at Carroll Community College as part of a “freshman seminar” workshop.

Unfortunately, the performance was cut short when the students were encouraged to - hasten thyself to yonder bus, the snow cometh.

To observe the students watch the performance, a casual observer could have easily imagined that the 9th graders were watching the classic 1975 cult-audience participation oriented “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” 

To refresh your memory, the musical comedy makes fun of science fiction horror movies.  It starred Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, and Barry Bostwick.  After its initial release the movie became well known for the interaction of audiences singing along and “participating” with the movie precisely, on cue. 

At a time when the contemporary criticism of today’s classroom is that they are “places of crushing boredom,” the students really seemed to enjoy the performance and were quite animated as they carefully followed along with the script.

The production company’s artistic director, Century High School English teacher Tom Delise easily explained the performance’s success: “This ain’t your Daddy’s Shakespeare.” 

(He was also relatively unresponsive when I asked him if the production would include Ozzy Osborne’s “No More Tears.”)

The play is directed by Tom Rinaldi, the son of Audrey Cimino, an accomplished Carroll County actress and singer - and the Carroll Community Foundation executive director. 

This version is true to the fundamentals of the story, but it is certainly not staid, or stodgy.

Parents, at this point, please keep this column away from your children as otherwise they will learn the “secret” that Mr. Delise’s innovative approaches to Shakespeare’s plays are not simply for the students’ entertainment.  Nor is it to teach them iambic pentameter, but rather it is used to aid in teaching 9th graders language, reading, and communication life-skills as they enter the demanding world of high school academics.

If the reaction of the students is any indication, the production is sure to be another hit in a series of well-attended and well-received Shakespeare productions by the “Factory.”

Just last December, The Rude Mechanicals’ staged ‘‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Century High School, which was explained, according to one review, as how Shakespeare would have produced it, if he “could make a mix tape, (that would) might have included Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’ and Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller.’”  All reports indicate that it was well-received.

According to the Shakespeare Factory’s founder, Mr. Delise, author of “That Is the Question: The Ultimate Shakespeare Quiz Book,” and a thirty year veteran of teaching English – he began the high school acting troupe, The Rude Mechanicals at Century High in 2003.

Since then the “Shakespeare Factory” has expanded to include an adult acting troupe, “The Distracted Globe Players;” and “Touchstone's Players,” an elementary school acting troupe.

The Shakespeare Factory’s major objectives are: “To encourage the teaching of Shakespeare using performance techniques; form groups in the schools and in the community to perform Shakespeare; and encourage the idea that Shakespeare can be enjoyed by people of all ages.”

This weekend’s performances of “Romeo and Juliet” are sure to be enjoyed by the most conventional of Shakespeare purists and the aficionado of avant-garde theatre alike as the streets of Verona come alive in Westminster in a manner that is hardly imaginable for most of us.

Showtimes this weekend at Carroll Community College are Friday, at 7:30 pm, Saturday at 3 pm and 7:30 pm, and Sunday at 3 pm. 

Tickets are available at the door at $12 for adults or $8 for students and seniors.  For more information, go to the Shakespeare Factory’s website,  Come hither to yon theater and see, “for stony limits cannot hold love out.”

Kevin Dayhoff, when not composing iambic pentameter and quoting Shakespeare, writes from Westminster


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