When teens talk in pentameter
Black Swan to present 'Romeo and Juliet' Jan. 11-19
Rachel Lawrence, 15, a sophomore at Reynolds High School, says her plan to avoid the spotlight in Black Swan Youth Theatres Romeo and Juliet kind of backfired.
I just wanted to be part of the play, and my friends were all doing it, and theyre a really fun group of kids, she says. I was hoping for something really small so no one would notice if I messed up.
Instead of that happening, after performing a monologue during tryouts she was cast as Juliet in the play, which Black Swan will present at Portland Lutheran School from Jan. 11-19.
Despite her shyness, Lawrence says shes prepared to let the spotlight find her.
The fear is always going to be present, but Ive learned to deal with it, she says of being onstage.
It helps that she grew up reading the King James version of the Bible, which has flowery language similar to that employed by Shakespeare. She adds she thinks Black Swans production will boast a level of professionalism above and beyond that of your average high school play.
Its more than just a bunch of kids putting on a play to please their grandparents, she says. It has a modern twist, but its the same language. The words are beautiful, and we never speak like that anymore.
East County cast
The cast of 20 for Romeo and Juliet is made up of actors from Barlow, Reynolds and Clackamas high schools as well as a handful of middle school students from the Gresham-Barlow, Reynolds and Centennial school districts, says Susan Scott, Black Swans artistic director.
Its going to be something that students have studied, and hopefully theyll be coming into it with an understanding of it, she says of the iconic piece studied by generations of teenagers.
Its just a play that you know the audiences are going to like, Scott adds. The language for this one is so beautiful.
She also says the play will feature modern costumes and contemporary music from such groups as Scottish folk rockers The Proclaimers, pop artist Taylor Swift and rock band The Killers.
Lawrence adds that even though the play is centuries old, teenagers can still relate to such characters as Juliet, who is torn between her loves for Romeo, a member of the Montague family, and her own family, the Capulets, with whom the Montagues feud.
Weve all gone through something where were all trying to make everyone happy, but you just cant do it, Lawrence says.
Wherefore art thou?
Erik Scott, 16, a Barlow High junior, plays Romeo, and hes been cast in 10 Black Swan plays.
This is my first serious role Ive taken on, he says. Before this I was a character actor or in a comedic role.
Given his mother is the artistic director for Black Swan, Erik Scott says hes been raised on Shakespeare and has already played roles in such shows as Macbeth, Twelfth Night and The Tempest.
Luckily its not my first Shakespearean play seeing as Im taking on the role of Romeo, Erik Scott says, although he adds, Its a lot of practice learning iambic pentameter.
Like his mother and Lawrence, Erik Scott says Shakespeares way with words is unparalleled among playwrights.
I think his language is so beautiful, he says. At times it can be humorous and at times it can be moving, and its just an honor to be able to present that.
Erik Scott says hes attempting to put his own spin on the oft-performed role of Romeo.
I didnt really want to be your traditional lovey dovey Romeo, he says. Theres several lines where he messes up, and Juliet points out that hes not this smooth guy.
For example, he says, Juliet takes Romeo to task for swearing his love to her by yonder blessed moon.
She says dont swear by the moon, it changes monthly, Erik Scott says.
He also notes the Black Swan production should appeal to modern audiences who have grown accustomed to action aplenty in movies and theater shows.
Theres like people wearing jeans having swordfights, Erik Scott says. Its definitely not like dry Shakespeare. The actors movements will definitely keep people on the edge of their seats.
And working on plays like Romeo and Juliet is a welcome break for the primarily teenage cast, he says.
When you have a drab teenage American life, its fun to slip into something more interesting after a long day at school.Add a comment