Romeo and Juliet Production Set in Era of Equality


Kate Meyers

Juliet Capulet, played by Lily Shaw, fakes her death by a medicine from Friar Lawrence, the night before her arranged marriage to avoid having to marry Paris. Romeo Montegue, played by Grant Halliburton believes she is dead, and drinks poison from an apothecary because he does not want to live a life without her. Juliet wakes up from her sleep to see Romeo dead, and stabs herself to be with him.

Nikki Iyer, Staff Writer

Romeo and Juliet made its debut December 4-7 in the Black Box. In this production, written by William Shakespeare, certain male roles were played by females.

Actors Repertoire, the highest level of drama in SJHHS’s Theatre Department, performed the play set in a futuristic, dystopian future society.

Director, Cambria Graff, relates the production of the play to morals overtones in movies such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner, as they all share a common theme of dealing with the messes past generations have created but not cleaned up.

Any person was able to freely audition for any role, regardless of gender, except the roles of Romeo, Juliet, and two other characters because changing those roles could potentially change the story of the play.

Graff decided not to focus on the opposite gender roles of the play, but the message Shakespeare intended to spread.

“Our fear was that by making Romeo and Juliet a same sex couple, and having their families want to keep them apart it would make being gay a part of the problem,” said Cambria Graff, the director of San Juan Hills’s drama department.

The point of Shakespeare’s work is to communicate stories about the essential struggles of humanity — which does not have to be directly related to someone’s personal gender identity — we are all just human

In future years, Graff envisions a society where being gay is not an issue. This is why she wants LGBTQ+ students to be on her stage and to not have it be a problem.

In the show, some females played a variety of originally male dominated roles. These roles varied from heads of state and leaders of the military, to major characters originally written for male actors.

“The main decision of casting Romeo and Juliet with many roles cast in opposite genders was to underline a future in which people are just people, and their gender does not quite matter so much,” said Graff.

Syndee Howes, a junior, is one of the many females playing a male role. She plays Tybalt, a hot-headed cousin of Juliet.

“In this future I think the world has come to the conclusion that you can love who you want to love. It’s not weird for a girl and a girl to be together or a guy and a guy to be together. It can be whatever you want. Love is love,” said Howes.

“I believe Romeo and Juilet is a play about struggling to chase your dreams and build a life in the midst of challenges that past generations have handed to you,” said Graff.