Everything Old is New Again: Rediscovering ROMEO AND JULIET

For this year’s Capital Fringe Festival, We Happy Few tackled an almost 400 year old play by William Shakespeare. ROMEO AND JULIET is frequently taught, frequently read, and frequently staged. So why did we chose to take on this classic? First, we injected a new artistic concept (see our older posts for more on this). And of course, we love to take on a challenge. But we also know that revisiting this play will open up new ideas for us and bring to light some connections that we had never made before. Using this new perspective, we hope that our audience also comes away from the show feeling that it isn’t just the “same old story” but that ROMEO AND JULIET now has new meaning to them.

There’s a reason that ROMEO AND JULIET is so popular. It’s a damn good play, and arguably one of Shakespeare’s best. In our last cast interview video of this series, the actors in our production discuss the things that surprised them during the process of staging ROMEO AND JULIET. Enjoy!

 

Our very last performance of ROMEO AND JULIET is on stage this evening at Source. Be sure to get a ticket! Don’t miss a wonderful opportunity to revisit this classic tragedy with us.

“Boys Will Be Boys”

We Happy Few’s ROMEO AND JULIET has been well received by audiences and critics after 5 performances. Just 4 shows remain, so get a ticket now! The masculine nature of our rendition of the play has been praised by reviewers.

Washington City Paper says, “The testosterone overload is by design. We Happy Few wants to emphasize the way that violent masculinity leads to the bloodbath at the end of this tragic tale…. it actually enhances the text.”

DC Theatre Scene says of the choice to cast male actors in all female roles besides Juliet’s, “The effect of this casting decision is, in some scenes, hilarious and others, heartbreaking… Juliet’s allies are a part of the society keeping her from her goals, which adds an entire new layer to the timeless story.”

In our next video with the cast of ROMEO AND JULIET, the actors discuss the artistic vision for the show, and how well the concept works within the male-dominated society Verona’s feuding families have created.

 

As the Washington Post says, “Boys will be boys- and therein lies Verona’s misfortune.” And that’s exactly what we’re going for.

PS. Be sure to read the other stellar review for ROMEO AND JULIET from DC Metro Theater Arts and be sure to see this tragic tale of “star-crossed lovers” as you’ve never seen it before.

But Soft, What Quote From Yonder Shakespeare Play?

ROMEO AND JULIET is one of the most well-known, most commonly read, and most often quoted plays in the English language (and probably in other languages, too). We asked the cast of our ROMEO AND JULIET, on stage as a part of this summer’s Capital Fringe Festival, to talk about their favorite lines from Shakespeare’s masterpiece. The result is a combination of old favorites that continue to be timeless after almost 400 years, as well as other not-so-obvious choices that have found new meaning with our actors during the life of this production.

 

What is YOUR favorite quote from ROMEO AND JULIET? Let us know! Make a comment below, tweet it to @WeHappyFewDC, or post it on our facebook page.

Capulets vs. Montagues

We Happy Few’s ROMEO AND JULIET opened last night! With the momentum gained from completing the first show, we’ll keep giving great performances so be sure to get a ticket! There are 8 shows remaining in our 2nd annual appearance at the Capital Fringe Festival.

In celebration of starting performances, we present to you another glimpse at the inner workings of the show. This time, the cast talks about the feud between the Capulet and Montague families, including some characters’ views on the feud and even our guess at how the feud began in the first place. Enjoy!

This is How We Do It

It’s that time of year again, folks: Capital Fringe is here! We’re just so crazy in love right now with our artistic concept for ROMEO AND JULIET, which will be on stage at Source Theatre in July. More will most definitely follow about that. But before we launch into the awesome tidbits that come from our (sometimes booze-infused) brainstorming sessions, I want to share the benefits and pitfalls of fundraising for shows like this. After all, it’s the money that we raise that allows us to present the shows to you in the first place.

We here at We Happy Few are big fans of transparency. We want you to see how it works, so I’ll spill some of our secrets. First and most importantly, the box office proceeds IN THEIR ENTIRETY for all We Happy Few shows are divided amongst the artists. We don’t pay our bills from box office proceeds, but rather we prefer to support local theatre artists and those who work so hard on our behalf. In order to make this happen, we have to work really (really) hard to raise all the money we need to stage the show beforehand. In the past we’ve used crowd sourced funding, like Kickstarter, to fund all or a portion of our budget. We’ve written grants, gone to local businesses to sell advertising space, and we’ve put the good ol’ collection jar to work. Currently, we’re working with Fractured Atlas to give tax-deductions for monetary donations in support of the company* – and still with the option to get some nifty gifts as a thank you for your donation, if you check out the Giving Levels tab on the Fractured Atlas page. How fancy!

Over the past year we raised money to put on two really wonderful shows, HAMLET and THE TEMPEST. The money goes toward things like insurance to safeguard our artists and audiences in the spaces we rent; raw materials for set pieces; fabric for costumes (or clothes from a second hand store, which are sometimes less expensive!); printing costs for postcards, posters, and playbills; and our hands-down largest expense, space rental, for rehearsals and performances. Space rental is typically between 50% and 70% of our budget. That’s a lot of dough. It’s true, too, that we will pinch pennies to sew our own costumes, build our own sets, and design our own graphics to allow that money to go where it’s most useful. But it always goes to something important to the show, and we pride ourselves on that.

Here’s the best news of all: research shows that every dollar spent by arts organizations (that’s us!) is re-invested in the local community multiple times. Think about that when you consider a donation to an artist to allow them to do what they do. You’ll be supporting artists and, in turn, the community. And we’re down with that. But I digress…

One of the most important things about fundraising, and sometimes the most difficult, is to keep in mind that we’re putting in the hard work up front to gather donations in order to keep ticket prices low in the end. While our material might not always be appropriate for all ages (like a dark, violent HAMLET), our ticket prices are friendly to all wallets. In order to do that we rely on you, dear reader/friend/audience member/person who lives in our community. Thank you for allowing us to continue a tradition of a vibrant arts program in DC while also propelling our mission forward. Don’t you want your sister, friend, cousin, mom, fraternity brother, mail man, coworker, neighbor, guy who goes to your gym, and woman who does the Sudoku every morning on your bus to experience the same joy you get when you rediscover why Shakespeare and other classic texts are still relevant? Then give us a hand and a donation, or just purchase a ticket to see ROMEO AND JULIET in July. Either way, you’ll be contributing to a fabulous DC arts community and there’s no downside to that!

 

* We Happy Few Productions is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of We Happy Few Productions must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.  To make a tax-deductible donation online, please visit our Fractured Atlas page here: http://www.fracturedatlas.org/site/fiscal/profile?id=8376. Thank you for your generous support.

Lady Parts

If you’ve read anything we’ve written about the show to date, you already know that we’re emphasizing gender roles in our upcoming production of ROMEO AND JULIET at this year’s Capital Fringe Festival. Below is the list of actors and their roles, including the ways that we’ve used creative double-, triple-, and even quadruple-casting.

Nathan James Bennett: Nurse & Tybalt

Raven Bonniwell: Juliet

Chris Dinolfo: Lady Capulet, Peter, Apothecary, & Gregory

Chris Genebach: Capulet, Friar John & Sampson

Sean Hudock: Romeo

Kiernan McGowan: Benvolio & Paris

Paul Reisman: Friar Lawrence, Montague, & Abraham

William Vaughan: Mercutio & Prince

Juliet is the only female character being played by a woman. We’re attempting to emphasize the male-dominated world by which Juliet is surrounded by having all of the other women characters, namely the Nurse and Lady Capulet, also played by men. That is to say, these other women have already become a part of the society dictated by the wills of men in the world of the play.

It is not our intention to make a parody of the women characters, which is the really the opposite of the point we’re trying to make. We definitely won’t be giving them fake boobs (as much as they might want them). We will, however, be attempting to show how Juliet and her Romeo begin to break out of the boundaries set by this masculine, patriarchal society as they break traditional Capulet and Montague rules. But of course, that forward motion comes to a screeching halt at the end of the play for obvious reasons. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, definitely go read the play.