Romeo and Juliet is one of those plays that people think they’ve seen a million times. By people, I mean me. I hyperbolically thought to myself that I’d seen it a hundred times. But REALLY how many times? I have seen two productions, and two movies. It has a story that feels like it’s a part of me, but I haven’t actually had as many intersections with it as I thought.
With all of these new versions coming out (Classic Stage, Broadway, Film) at the same time that I am doing my first-ever assistant directing gig on an all-female version of R & J, I have been able to sit back a bit and contextualize–namely, why this piece begs to be done so often, why does it feel so familiar to us, and why right now. The conclusion I have been able to draw, over these sort of gender-neutral six weeks, has been that whenever there are two houses, both alike in dignity, and these two houses refuse to get along, they teach their young that they’re not supposed to get along, and the cycle perpetuates; this supposed becomes the new reality. We, as the audience, are forced recognize this flawed logic, finally, as all the dead bodies lay strewn about the stage; we must recognize the pitiful waste.
I think this fits in perfectly with our current cultural landscape, considering our government’s two houses. It’s really no wonder this play is popping up all over.
…’tis not so hard, I think/For men so old as we to keep the peace.
Of honorable reckoning are you both,/And pity ’tis you lived at odds so long.