"For never was a story of more woe Than this of Juliet and her Romeo." - William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 5.3
The University of Wisconsin – Marathon County (UWMC) Theatre Department will be presenting William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet on April 8-10 and 14-16, 2011. Check the Shows page for times. This will be UWMC’s (somewhat long awaited) premier show in the all new UWMC Theatre in the Center for Civic Engagement at 625 Stewart Avenue, Wausau. This is the brand new building, not to be confused with the UWMC Auditorium.
Here’s the thing about Shakespeare. Just being in the world, we’ve all absorbed sort of the “general idea” of a lot of Shakespeare’s work. “I saw Shakespeare In Love. I know all about Romeo and Juliet”
To a certain extent, that’s true. Shakespearean themes and references are ubiquitous in pop culture and have been for, literally, hundreds of years. In order to get the most out of a live performance of a Shakespeare piece, though, it may be constructive to familiarize oneself with both the story and the language ahead of time. It’s not necessary, certainly, but if the only bit of English literature you’ve ever picked up featured a large man named Hagrid, it may be worth your while to brush up a bit before you go to the show.
There is a very thorough summary and analysis of Romeo and Juliet on Wikipedia. Just the “Characters” and “Synopsis” sections will give you a nice jump start, but the themes, criticisms and legacy sections are all fascinating in their own rights.
Taking matters a little further, the full text of the show is available from Shakespeare Online. In addition to the bard’s original text, there are extensive footnotes offering insights into language usage and dialect. (I’ll have to admit, I didn’t take the time to read the whole thing, but enjoyed what I got through.)
If time is of the essence and a movie sounds like it might be just the thing, or if you decide after you see the show that you’d love to go back to Verona, there are a couple of film versions listed in The Theater Community Store. There are three different options, in fact, that can be viewed on demand, if you’re so inclined.
Yes, the use of the image right over there is of questionable legality, and is entirely self-indulgent. For those too young to recall (because EVERYONE who’s old enough to recall DOES recall) that’s Olivia Hussey (really) in the 1968 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.
Once you’ve tuned your ear for Shakespeare, you’ll be all ready for UW-Stevens Point’s production of The Taming of the Shrew, coming up in May, 2011.