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About the Show

About the show

Romeo and Juliet was produced at Northern Vermont University - Johnson in March, 2022, by K Shaw. This production was Shaw's senior thesis for their B.A. in Theater and Drama. Shaw created the sound, lighting, set, costume, and props designs. Special thanks to Victoria Monarrez for programming lights, and Jenna Knight for constructing the set. 

This show was put up after only a month of rehearsals! The cast and crew worked fast and cohesively to conceive Shaw's vision. The show was set in a timeless Verona, and told the classic story of Romeo and Juliet with a focus on queer relationships, power dynamics, and the meaning of beauty.

Throughout the show, Romeo (K Shaw) carries a journal, making notes, poems, and illustrations of beauty that he observes in Verona. His friends, Mercutio (Arlie White) and Benvolio (Matthew Parker), constantly tease him about his journal, taking it from his hands and mocking him. when he is absent. At the top of the show, Romeo is intertwined with Rosaline, someone he cares about but considers more of a fling. Friar Lawrence (Alexander Gallagher) lectures Romeo on romance and youth after Romeo reveals to him that he has quickly fallen out of love with Rosaline, and in love with Juliet (Taylor Michaud), a girl he has just met. 


Gender-blind casting of Romeo and Juliet is not something new to the play, but it felt like the right move for Shaw in casting the show and spotlighting queer love stories and struggles. 

Having Romeo and Juliet portrayed by a queer AFAB actor and a queer AMAB actor, respectively, was an important part of the storyline. The show was meant to challenge society's ideals regarding beauty and queer relationships. For Juliet, this choice was meant to highlight how Capulet (Timothy Pinckney), Lady Capulet (Makenzi Edwards), and the Nurse (Gabriel Densmore) push gender norms on Juliet, forcing her to marry Paris (Jack Manning) and follow her father's rules. For Romeo, this decision highlighted and attempted to challenge toxic masculinity and the male gaze.

The Nurse was portrayed by a male actor in order to combat toxic masculinity. While the Nurse does push Juliet to follow society's gender ideals, having her portrayed by a man was an attempt to show that men can have "feminine" appearances, be soft-spoken, show raw emotions, and love.

Hidden inside the blocking and character work was another sometimes cliche choice used in previous productions of Romeo and Juliet. Mercutio, played by a non-binary actor, and Tybalt (Thomas Poodiack), are in a secret relationship. This was alluded to in their moments in the background. Mercutio uses very complex language throughout the show, and it is easy to bend dialogue and hint more at promiscuity. At the party in the Capulet's home, Mercutio and Tybalt interact upstage, with Mercutio hanging onto each of Tybalt's words. Any interaction they have onstage was playful, but is meant to be hidden from Benvolio, Romeo, and the rest of the characters. In the final moments of their relationship (Act III, Scene 1), they spar, and it doesn't become serious until Romeo arrives. Mercutio, of course, defends his friend, but neither Mercutio nor Tybalt realized how serious the fight would get. Mercutio, hanging onto Romeo's journal, is injured when Romeo interferes with their fight and attempts to pull Tybalt away. Tybalt runs off stage, and in this production, returns with a blanket he means to use to stop Mercutio's bleeding. Unfortunately, Mercutio is dead when Tybalt arrives. Romeo and Tybalt, both blind with rage and their love for Mercutio, fight. As Romeo slits Tybalt's throat, the last thing Tybalt sees in Mercutio's body on the ground. 

Throughout the show, themes of love and hate, beauty and grotesquery, gender norms, societal structure, and morals are challenged. The cast and crew were incredibly receptive to the story Shaw wanted to tell, and Shaw cannot thank them enough for their hard work, generosity, and love.

Sound Design

Sound design by K Shaw was also an integral part of the show. Natural ambient noise combined with original music by Shaw were utilized to create the environments of the show, with musical motifs sprinkled throughout. 

Shaw created a playlist on Spotify to inform their role as Romeo. These songs also offered inspiration for Shaw's sound design.

Party Stare Down

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