GTCC Performing Arts Theatre Presents New Take on Tragedy with “Romeo and Juliet Promenade”

Published on: October 18, 2017

One of the English language’s most beloved plays comes to life in the open air in a new, promenade-style production at GTCC.

“Romeo and Juliet Promenade” opens Oct. 21 at GTCC’s High Point campus. In the promenade theatre production, the audience moves from scene to scene with the performers.

“The great thing about that is that the audience can feel more a part of the story, as if they are characters in the story,” said Meredith Stephens, the play’s director.

Stephens said the GTCC campus provides a great space in which to stage such an outdoor production. Students from the school’s design program are building elaborate set pieces for the show.

GTCC student David Merritt portrays Romeo in the play, and he said the promenade presentation is as exciting for the actors as it is for the audience.

“It’s fun,” he said. “It feels like it gives you more energy.”

For a young performer, he said the chance to do Shakespeare is both a challenge and an opportunity. “I was as nervous as all get out (during auditions),” Merritt said. “But so far, it’s been great.”

In the production, Stephens has assembled a cast of 27 performers from both the college and the community.

“Romeo and Juliet” is William Shakespeare’s famous story of star-crossed lovers Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet. The two young nobles are members of feuding families who fall in love despite being on opposing sides of the rivalry. The teens are able to bring the families together and end the feud, but they must die to bring that about.

“Some people might view ‘Romeo and Juliet’ as a cliché story, but it really isn’t,” Stephens said. “It’s so pertinent and relatable to our time now.”

Merritt agreed that modern audiences can relate to the play’s main characters. “Romeo goes through a lot during this story — heartbreak to anger to happiness to grief again,” he said.

This production is set in contemporary times, with modern clothing for costumes, for example. But the dialogue is 100 percent the Shakespearean original.

For Stephens, directing “Romeo and Juliet Promenade” continues a love of Shakespeare’s work that goes back to her childhood.

“My first Shakespeare experience was seeing ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival when I was 10 years old,” she said. “I can’t get enough of him.”

Read the full story here.

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