"Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast."
– Friar Laurence in William Shakespeare’s "Romeo and Juliet."
The Utah Shakespeare Festival has performances of "Romeo and Juliet" scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday at the Nicholas J. Horn Theatre at the College of Southern Nevada’s Cheyenne campus, 3200 E. Cheyenne Ave. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 702-651-5483.
The USF also will perform two weeks of shows for students while in Las Vegas. As part of its Shakespeare in the Schools program, it is also touring in Arizona and Utah, performing about 70 shows through April and interacting with students from about 150 schools. After each performance, the actors participate in a question-and-answer session with students and hold workshops in which they teach stage combat, improvisation and Shakespearean text.
The USF takes a minimalist approach to its plays. Eight actors will play the 16 roles in "Romeo and Juliet," and there is one set piece throughout.
The scripts also are trimmed to run about 75 minutes. The USF’s education director, Michael Bahr, makes the initial cuts of the script and then works with the director to finalize the material.
"It feels like we bat our eyelashes and the show’s over," said Melisa Pereyra, who plays Juliet. "I think the cutting is really good. It really sticks to the action and what drives the play. … It’s a huge roller coaster, and I love that."
Pereyra moved to America from Buenos Aires, Argentina about 11 years ago and did not speak English when she arrived.
She seems to have picked it up well.
"I chose her because she speaks impeccable text," Bahr said. "She’s electric on stage. There’s a lot of talking, and you want someone up there who, when they speak, you just want to continue listening. She does that."
Pereyra said she is "thankful" to play Juliet, the "archetype of romance, joy and sadness all in one little girl."
Her counterpart, Romeo, is played by Wisconsin native Chris Klopatek.
"Romeo is one of those classic roles that was on my list of characters to play," Klopatek said. "I’m getting nothing but older, and it would have gotten harder and harder to do."
Both Pereyra and Klopatek said their favorite scene in the play is the famous balcony scene – think "O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo" – which remains almost completely intact.
Bahr said he has three goals he hopes to accomplish with these peformances for students. He wants them to have a relevant theatrical experience they can instantly relate to; to show them innovative theatrical techniques; and for them to get exposure to strong Shakespearean text.
"My goal is to show this universal tale is as relevant today as it was back then and for kids to use that as a launching point for conversations," he said. "With this specific show, we deal with gang violence, feuding groups, parents who don’t talk to their children, children who don’t talk to their parents … rash youth … and suicide. The show just speaks to adolescence, speaks to impetuosity.
"It’s not just a love story. It’s a coming- of-age story and about the consequence of choices we make."
For more information about the USF, visit bard.org.
Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at email@example.com or 702-224-5524.