By Micaela Freeman | Staff Writer
The Baylor Theatre department is scheduled to premiere a Shakespearean classic, Romeo and Juliet, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night in Jones Theatre in the Hooper Schafer Fine Arts Center. The show will run Tuesday through Sunday with two shows on Saturday, one at 2 p.m. and one at 7:30 p.m. The play starred Burbank, Ca. Junior Sawyer Patterson as Romeo Montague and Shreveport, La. Senior Haley Evans as Juliet Capulet.
The tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet, set in Verona, Italy, features two star-crossed lovers who cannot help but love each other despite their families’ riff. Their deaths eventually reconcile their feuding families, ultimately portraying the sacrifices required of true love. Romeo and Juliet, written during the English Restoration, has been adapted into movies, modern plays and opera venues, and its story is well-known throughout the world.
Baylor Theatre’s rendition of Romeo and Juliet will apply somewhat of a modern twist, keeping the original script written by Shakespeare but including live music and electric guitars.
Throughout the show, cast members trotted with guitars, drums, and swords in hand. Additionally, the play included a modern love song dedicated to Romeo and Juliet.
The play is directed by Professor of Theatre Arts Steven Pounders, a professional actor and director and a member of the Actors Equity Association. Pounders’ professional performances have included the Off Broadway Premiere of Craig Wright’s “The Unseen” at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City in addition to a number of performances in Theatre Row in downtown New York City. Pounders received the Baylor Outstanding Faculty Partner Award for his service to students in 2015.
Assistant Director of the play Cooper Sivara, a candidate in Baylor Theatre’s master’s program, said the play was altered to be relatable to everyone in the audience.
“We wanted the play to feel accessible to all audiences. Steven Pounders, our director, wanted to draw out the universal themes of the play… themes which transcend the time that the play was written,” Sivara said.
As a graduate student, Sivara works closely with Pounders and said he is a great fit as director of Romeo and Juliet.
“He is passionate, caring, and incredibly generous, and his creativity inspires me on a daily basis,” Sivara said. “I also learned so much from the actors and our design team, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to see their work grow and develop over the entire rehearsal process.”
As a member of the live mixing crew, Dallas freshman Jacobe Beltran expressed excitement for his participation in Baylor Theatre’s take on Romeo and Juliet.
“I’m really grateful for this opportunity,” Beltran said. “It’s really awesome to see how the main stage comes together.”
Beltran said preparing for the stage has been both a learning experience and an enjoyable process.
“Being able to see it come to life and watch Pounders give direction to the actors, and to see it unfold on stage, gives me a truer perspective of what Shakespeare maybe wanted,” Beltran said.
Beltran also said he enjoyed working under Pounders and learning from Pounders’ interpretation of Shakespeare.
“[The production] really gives me a wonderful insight on Pounders specifically because he is amazing with shakespeare,” Beltran said. “I’m very familiar familiar with the script, so I enjoyed it a lot.”
Baylor Dallas Junior Luke MacKinnon, a Shakespeare enthusiast and English major, said he is excited to see Baylor’s modernized take on the classic Shakespearean tragedy.
“This classic tale is told with a contemporary twist. Those familiar with Shakespeare’s tragedy and those approaching it for the first time can both walk away enlightened and touched,” MacKinnon said. “The actors and actresses bring this story to life with their talent that fills the stage. The performances of Romeo and Juliet specifically were bold, yet gentle and overall transcendental. You will not be disappointed.”
Both MacKinnon and Sivara said they are eager for opening night.
“This is a beautiful story, and our actors and designers tell it with grace and truth,” Sivara said. “I believe that Shakespeare is a genius because he reveals simple, clear moments of truth about the human condition in the most extreme circumstances, and I think our production of Romeo & Juliet is full of those simple moments of truth emerging out of life-and-death situations.”
Tickets can be purchased at the Baylor Theatre Box Office for $20 for the public and $17 for students with a valid Baylor ID, or online at Baylor.edu/theatre.
*This story was updated on March 20, 2018 after receiving additional information.