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Theatre department sheds new light on Shakespeare classic

“But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.”

Chances are you know the story of “Romeo and Juliet” whether you’ve experienced the play or not.  At least, you think you do.

The ORU Theatre Department begins their season with William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy this week. This production marks the university directorial debut of Norah Swiney, who joined the department just last year as adjunct professor.

“Romeo and Juliet is often done as if it’s motorcycle gangs or teenagers, and I was actually more interested in the political intrigue of renaissance Italy,” said Swiney. “As opposed to it being about a grudge, I was more interested in the hatred that runs so deep that it would continue generation after generation. The Montague’s and the Capulet’s are not actual royalty, so I was interested in how nobility uses all kinds of violence and corruption to gain political power. I read in some of my research that interested me, ‘Who is at fault that it brought them to this point?’ I liked the idea of everyone in the town being culpable in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Everyone is at fault.”

Swiney has lived and breathed the famous bard long before this fall. She worked as an actor in New York and toured with The Royal Shakespeare Company, a major British theatre company. Swiney played Juliet alongside Chadwick Boseman, known for the films “42” and “Get on Up.”

“Nora’s knowledge of Shakespeare is beyond anyone I’ve ever met,” said junior Sofia Redden. “Her true understanding of everything that Shakespeare is trying to tell us in his text makes the story come to life.”

This production sought preparation in every form from fight choreography to vocal coaching. Each step was taken in order for the best audience experience possible.

“I’d like them to think about what they have in common with any of these characters,” said Swiney. “How they relate to these characters and what is true in this story that is still true in our world.”

Garrek Reed and Redden lead the ensemble as the star-crossed lovers. This is the first lead for Redden, a drama, television and film major.

“This show explores every extreme of emotion, and I think that’s been the biggest challenge but also the best because that’s challenged me as an actor,” said Redden.

Reed hopes to change the minds of spectators through this production. The senior drama, television and film major has previously appeared in “The Seagull,” “Proposals,” “South Pacific” and “The Diary of Anne Frank” as Mr. Frank.

“I want them to leave astounded by the experience that Romeo and Juliet was meant to be, not what they believe it to be,” he said.

The scene will lay in fair Verona this week with performances at 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and a 2 p.m. performance on Sunday.







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