In modern cinema, there is a vast difference between the two gender-targeted genres of action and romance, also known as “chick flicks”. Shakespeare probably would have scoffed at this division.
The notorious playwright thrived on his blending of the two themes, as evidenced by the famous play Romeo and Juliet.
While everyone is familiar with this classic love story, Open Air Shakespeare NRV aims to employ a modern twist to attract an evolved audience.
After holding several productions of the modern rendition at Sinkland Farms, Open Air Shakespeare performed its first showing at Smithfield Plantation.
Open Air Shakespeare NRV differs from other Shakespeare inspired organizations in its commitment to authenticity, performing outdoors like the original plays in the Globe Theatre.
The Great Outdoors
Sarah Wylie, founder of Open Air Shakespeare, described the benefits of performing Shakespeare beyond the confines of an ordinary theater.
“Originally, Shakespeare was performed in a semi-outdoor venue, the Globe, which was the first theatre that Shakespeare supposedly worked in,” Wylie said.
In the open-air Globe Theatre, audience members were free to express themselves, with little restraint on acceptable behavior. With this modern rendition of the play, modern acceptable behavior will also be expected.
“People would be drinking, smoking, selling things, pretty much everything you could possibly think of in the audience,” Wylie said. “It was a very bawdy thing going to the theatre outside. It wasn’t something that you would bottle up inside.”
Cameron Brooks, a junior English major, shared his thoughts on the upcoming outdoor performance.
"I think it takes it back to its original roots in the Globe Theatre where it was an open air deal. I feel like that’s where it originated, where a lot of the enjoyment was derived from,” Cameron said.
This production is a modern take on Romeo and Juliet. Wylie explained some of the differences viewers can expect to see in the upcoming play.
“All of the clothes are contemporary, the weapons that we are using are contemporary in the fight scenes and the death scenes, and we are using cell phones, texting, computers — any kind of electronic form of communication, we have incorporated into the show,” Wylie said.
In addition to the modern additions with technology and development, the old time humor has also been altered to fit the times.
“There are a lot of jokes in Romeo in Juliet (that were) very easy to translate that to modern times,” Wylie said. “As far as textually, we break everything down and every single line we put next to the modern interpretation,” Wylie said.
Love and War
Though Romeo and Juliet is a tragic romance, it contains an intense amount of violence.
“I am a fight choreographer; I love doing fight choreography,” Wylie said.
While Wylie cited several great fight choreographers who have inspired and assisted her in the past, for this production she worked solo.
“It was kind of interesting working alone with a bunch of kids who have never done this before so we spent a lot of time working on safety and a lot of time working on intensity,” Wylie said.