Romeo + Juliet - February 07 - February 09, 2019

The Beacon School

 A Note from the Director 

Shortly after my first introduction to Romeo and Juliet, I was delivered to the principal’s office for being disrespectful. What can I say? I was 14 and probably had a late rehearsal and didn’t finish my homework until half way through the night. I fell asleep in Anna Keesey’s 9th Grade English class, despite the fact that I adored her, because I was bored to tears by Romeo’s incessant whining and Juliet’s inexplicable silence. Moreover my sweet teacher – then maybe 24 years old herself - insisted on translating English to English and that was just silly to impatient me. Such a punk. I would have thrown me out of class too.


Needless to say my love for the Bard started awkwardly, as most teenage romances do. But he embraced my erratic emotions, gave me a place to put them and I fell hard and fast for iambic pentameter, cheeky sex jokes and the profound sweep of the human heart captured between elegantly rhymed couplets. As a young actor, my dyslexic brain was so terrified of butchering Shakespeare’s poetry that I almost quit the theatre altogether in tenth grade. I’m so glad my fearless program director, Dan Green, talked me out of it. He could see in me, as I see in so many of our students, the potential to overcome fear. He more than saw it, he required it.


That said, I’ve never been more afraid of making a play than I am of B’DAT's Romeo + Juliet. There is so much subtextual queerness in Shakespeare’s work because his plays were written to be performed by troupes of men playing all roles. So much of the humor is built on the irony of men playing women, gender inversions, mistaken identity, drag, camp and overtly sexual humor. But when I reread Romeo and Juliet a few years ago, I was struck by how many times Romeo is referred to as Rosemary and just how NOT funny that was when I gazed back into the play from the more progressive present. I couldn’t shake the idea that perhaps Romeo’s melancholy ran far deeper than just failing to command Rosaline’s attention. Perhaps our Romeo, or our Rosemary, had very good reason to brood and bemoan love and the inexplicable fates!


To be young and queer in America is a strange thing, a true thing, a very real and tactile thing. We are the land of the free! The home of the brave! But so frequently for many who discover that they are not “straight” in the traditional sense of the word, the realization that you may be held in close quarters with people you love dearly (who love you with your whole life) but may also judge, undermine and harm you for your honesty is devastating. The fear of losing one’s family at the expense of embracing one’s self is enough to send even the strongest of young folk into a profound state of longing, terror and paralyzing self-doubt. The statistics are humbling. The work is unrelenting. So long as people are empowered to discriminate against the LGBT community, the need to advocate for and protect young queer people will demand our attention and our care.


The theatre has always been a safe haven for people of all stripes. Who better to shape shift than those who are forced to do so to survive. The incredibly colorful B’DAT Community is no exception to this inevitable association between the creative process and gay culture and always has been. But in our house, we are a proud band of ‘come as you are’ merry folk where we assume nothing, accept everything, and really only judge each other’s work ethic and honesty – not who you want to snuggle after school. Frankly, we don’t have time.


Oh my dear, Romeo. How I judged you so unfairly.

I judged you with a naïve heart.

I didn’t know that you and I are one in the same.


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