Photo Courtesy of MTSU
Story by Peyton Tranas/Contributing Writer
The way in which we view and produce media has been just as impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as anything else. With this in mind, MTSU’s production of “Romeo and Juliet” brought about a sense of normalcy, while still acknowledging the ongoing pandemic.
“Separated lovers and feuding families set in a world where distancing is a way of life,” reads the MTSU Theatre Program’s official promotion of the production.
While the script is primarily the classic Shakespeare lines, the play itself had some modern elements. The plot still follows the story of two star-crossed lovers, but they’re divided by more than feuding families. On the stage, there is a six foot wide red line that the Capulets and Montagues can not cross. “It’s like a physical representation of the [family] divide and the pandemic,” said Molly Womack, who plays Rosaline/Sampson/Watch 3.
When you watch the production, whether that is online or in-person, you will notice that every actor is wearing a mask. It is not only for our real world safety precautions, but because there is also a pandemic going on in the “Romeo and Juliet” world.
Another nontraditional element of this production was the casting. Juliet, played by Katlyn Marion, stars opposite Romeo, played by Alexa Pulley. While unconventional, Pulley glowed as Romeo. The two stars could never come in close contact, but Pulley and Marion convinced the audience that their respective characters were just as much in love from six feet apart.
Throughout the play, many characters hold a cell phone-like device. They are “screens” that the characters can communicate with, much like phones, but they can also send human touch and interactions. Viewers will see Romeo and Juliet “kiss” through the screens multiple times over the period of the play. This modern element helped the production show that portraying intimacy is still doable from a distance.
Besides Pulley and Marion’s stellar performances, many other MTSU students shined throughout the play. Geo Sekeres plays Mercutio, who is typically a fan-favorite in the show, and their performance continued that tradition. Zoë Jones, who plays the Friar, also delivered an emotional and well executed performance.
While I was personally expecting for the COVID-19 precautions in the play to be distracting, they were not in the slightest. The production team, as well as the actors, played into the pandemic and produced a well directed and unique, but still classic, play. I highly recommend theatre enthusiasts, Shakespeare fans and anyone with access to the internet to watch MTSU’s Romeo and Juliet.
The public is invited to watch MTSU’s production of Romeo and Juliet at www.mtsu.edu/live or www.facebook.com/mtsublueraiders from October 1-4, with Thursday, Friday and Saturday’s performances starting at 7:30 PM and Sunday’s at 2:00 PM. Current MTSU students are invited to attend the play in person with limited seating available due to COVID-19 restrictions.
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