So, after months of exploration and conversation, what are we DOING with our R&J?
Romeo and Juliet centers adolescents and young adults in a world transformed by both plague and civil strife. In lieu of a traditional live theatre production, Albright College Theatre is adapting the text into an audio-visual format that engages not just our Theatre students in its creation, but also the greater Albright and Reading community- particularly its young people.
Albright students will create an audio performance of the play, which will be distributed to students and 2D artists at Albright, our local community, and beyond. The resulting visual work will be combined with the audio performance and text in a video storybook- a Romeo and Juliet as seen through the diverse perspectives of our greater community, narrated by our Albright student actors.
This is a poignant model for creative collaboration on this dramatic text- one that counters the intolerance and division that is the great tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Moreover, this project will build relationships between Albright and its greater community, and increase the visibility of our remarkable program.
How will it work?
January & February 2021
Acting and production students at Albright College to record a "radio" adaptation of Romeo & Juliet. Meanwhile, a call for Community Artists would go out on Jan 25th, and close on February 15th. Interested artists would answer a brief survey and upload a sample of their 2D artwork, which can be in any medium. This call will be found here via our COMMUNITY ARTIST PORTAL.
Our goal is to match artist styles to content. For example, if an artist loves whimsical watercolor, that might be suitable for parts of the balcony scene. If a student leans towards an action-comic style, that might work wonderfully for any of the fight scenes... you get the idea!
On March 1st, each artist will receive a short audio clip from our “radio” Romeo and Juliet, and guidelines for the 1-3 illustrations we would like them to contribute to our "video storybook".
These guidelines would include instructions for image size, file type etc, and possibly thumbnail sketches indicating a rough sense of the composition of the images. All work would be due on March 20th via our COMMUNITY ARTIST portal.
Meanwhile, our Albright actors will be engaging students and our student artists in the community in conversation about the play, the process, and producing and studying theatre in a pandemic.
The final film would go live beginning Thursday April 15th- likely as a series of episodes premiering in sequence over the weekend. The full film will remain on Youtube afterwards.
Why are we making this?
The pandemic has had devastating consequences for both the study and practice of Theatre. Traditional performance and production models do not serve either audiences or theatre makers in these times, and recent attempts to marry film and theatre to create “virtual theatre” often result in work that embodies the worst, not best, of both mediums- and leans heavily on sophisticated technology inaccessible to most.
More broadly, the pandemic has created a global sense of isolation and disconnect. As we have all been screaming into the Zoom void on shaky internet connections- “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?”- Romeo and Juliet resonates in ways it never has before. Like Verona, the United States is a country divided, where empathy and the ability to consider the world through the eyes of another seems in short supply.
As we explored the play over September and October, we realized that we wanted to use this production as an opportunity to build community and welcome new storytellers and new kinds of storytelling into our process, prioritizing accessibility and multi-modal collaboration.
Want to get involved?
We need Community Artists of all kinds! If you or someone you know- a middle schooler, high schooler, college student, or professional artist- wants to be part of this project, email RomeoAndJulietAtAlbright@gmail.com and we will add you to our team!