Romeo and Juliet Play
In the small theater of York’s Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center, the Romeo and Juliet play debuted in its spring series.
The popular Romeo and Juliet tragedy play was written by Shakespeare dating back to the 1590’s, the play is ancient and contemporary. York Theater’s production team took a different approach to the story. The play that has been performed in different settings, time and even turned into films, was staged in the Middle East in the “past present and future” at York.
Assistant professor of theater and the Director of the play Tom Marion, said the concept remains the same and the meaning of the text has not changed though the words were modified in order to perform the play.
“We did some cuts to the script to make it to make it clear, and some speeches that were not necessary in advancing the plot,” said Marion. “We made sure that any word that would be unclear, we removed or went around it.”
From the announcements made on YC radio and the flyers around the school, the play piqued the interest of many people one of them being Bryan Graves the head of the York College radio station. He said the last time he ever went to a play was when he was in Junior High or High School, which was years ago.
“I’m really not a fan of romance, but this one sounded pretty interesting. I am a little familiar with Romeo and Juliet but I heard this one is going to be different,” said Graves. “It’s almost like a treat, since I haven’t been in so long.”
Most of the actors are York students and some are alumni, but the actor who played Juliet is Mildred Gil, an acting major at Marymount Manhattan College. Present at the opening night of the play to support her favorite character, was a schoolmate of hers Brandy Ochoa a sophomore at the Manhattan College.
“Taking the Middle Eastern part of it and how they incorporated the Arabic culture was really great,” said Ochoa. “I’m pretty biased but Mildred did amazing, she kept the whole thing going.”
The tragic forbidden love story of Romeo and Juliet came to light in its first appearance in York’s theater, with the actors breaking through that fourth wall to captivate the audience. With these acts the members of the audience couldn’t help but be drawn to the play.
“It was fully immersive, very interesting and it just caught me at random moments,” said freshman, Michelle Suleymanova. “I was really surprised with the fight scene and gunshots. And they just ran at each other like oh my God!”
Suleymanova isn’t the only student who found that exact scene to be memorable, Socrates Arias, who is a junior Movement Science major said the play was overpowering.
“The standout piece was the gunshots and the fighting scene was intense,” said Arias. “The acting goes from constantly being comedic to romantic and to really deep. It keeps that tone through the whole play and that flow picks up the audience.”
Director Marion’s main goal for this series of Romeo and Juliet, is to showcase the different aspects of the play to the audience.
“My primary thing is that they leave thinking ‘oh I didn’t realize Shakespeare could be so enjoyable to watch,’” said Marion. “And how understandable, how clear, how engaged they were and how quickly it moved.”
Although the director and actors worked to make the play easy to follow and understand, the York alum who played Lord Capulet, Solomon Peck, said it was not as easy to fall into character.
“Making it look easy was just months of practice. I had to go through the process of translating everything to common day English so that I knew what I was saying,” said Peck. “I didn’t want to look like a fool, I hope it looked good.”
The play is set to run for eight days during this spring semester.