Two Georgia High School Students Take on ROMEO AND JULIET at Atlanta Shakespeare Company

Romeo and Juliet might just be the best-known teenagers in the history of English literature. Highlighting the famous pair's youth, an upcoming production of Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet at the Atlanta Shakespeare Company has cast two local teenagers in the title roles.

Margaret Flock, a senior at the Lovett School in Atlanta, and Jake West, a senior at North Cobb Christian School in Kennesaw, GA, will portray the 'star cross'd lovers' in the professional company's annual production.

Though young, Flock and West are no strangers to the Atlanta Shakespeare Company stage at the New American Shakespeare Tavern. Both have spent three summers in the company's Shakespeare Intensive for Teens, a four-week day camp that brings young performers from across Metro Atlanta to the company's home theater, where they receive training from professional actors and create their own Shakespeare production. Flock and West played leads in the 2011 Shakespeare Intensive for Teens production of Romeo and Juliet--and that's when Jeff Watkins, Artistic Director of the company, first had the idea of asking them to reprise their roles in a month-long evening production.

"The emotional accessibility and freshness that these two young people brought to their roles was remarkable," says Watkins. "Having watched them perform Romeo and Juliet on our stage through SIT, I thought that our wider audience deserved to see what I was seeing."

2013 marks the 13th year that the company has performed a February production of Romeo and Juliet, an annual event that's become a Valentine's Day tradition in Atlanta. This particular Shakespeare play holds emotional resonance for Watkins, who watched the Franco Zeffirelli film version starring two teenagers while he was still a youngster himself. "This is the play that rocked my world when I was 13," says Wakins, who credits the film with beginning his interest in Shakespeare.

The two young actors are scheduled to portray their title roles for all evening performances and all matinee performances of Romeo and Juliet except for most Thursday matinees. Romeo and Juliet runs January 31 through March 3 at The Shakespeare Tavern.

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