Shakespeare’s R&J opens Theatre Season at Gustavus

Posted on October 20th, 2010 by

Shakespeare's R&J

Shakespeare's R&J

The Gustavus Adolphus College Department of Theatre and Dance opens the 2010-11 season with the Joe Calarco adaptation of one of William Shakespeare’s best-loved plays, Shakespeare’s R&J. This adaptation of the classic love story, Romeo and Juliet, is directed by Henry MacCarthy with performances October 28, 29, and 30 at 8:00 p.m. and October 31 at 2:00 p.m. in Anderson Theatre on the Gustavus Adolphus College campus.

Shakespeare’s R&J, with the exception of some lines, uses the original text from Romeo & Juliet. Set in an all-boys boarding school where Shakespeare’s works have been banned, R&J is the story of four young boys who come across a hidden copy of the play. As the boys read the banned text, they take on the roles within the play and, in the process, learn more about themselves and the world they live in.

Shakespeare’s R&J is one of relevance today because of its tale of forbidden love and its classic struggle against society in the journey of self-discovery. It is further relevant within the context of the current social climate in the country. Although the circumstances may have changed from Shakespeare’s day, the message remains very clear.

Calarco’s adaptation has each member of the cast playing many characters. Shakespeare’s R&J has a small cast of only four males, Ben Batz, Ben Kolis, Riley Lass and Rob Ward. These actors play each of the roles and have used their different life experiences and backgrounds to bring the characters of the play to life.

Lighting was designed by senior theatre major Erin Belpedio. Sound Design was created by Anderson Theatre Technical Director Terena Wilkens. Theatre Professor Micah Maatman created the set design which features a striking background of Martyr St. Sebastian’s execution which depicts both masculinity and vulnerability. Shakespeare’s R&J features the first costume design at Gustavus by Designer Larissa McConnell.

Following the opening night performance, the audience is invited to attend a candlelight vigil outside the theatre in memory of the gay and lesbian students who recently committed suicide in the country.

Tickets for Shakespeare’s R&J are available online at and at the Gustavus Ticket Center.


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