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Silicon Valley Shakespeare Presents A Female Pair Of Star-Crossed Lovers in ROMEO & JULIET

Portraying the eponymous duo are Bay Area spitfires, Melinda Marks as Romeo, and April Culver as Juliet.

Silicon Valley Shakespeare Presents A Female Pair Of Star-Crossed Lovers in ROMEO & JULIET

On Friday, June 3rd, just in time to kick off Pride, William Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers-in the form of two female protagonists-arrive in San José.

The free outdoor production of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Tonya Mara, is presented by Silicon Valley Shakespeare. Portraying the eponymous duo are Bay Area spitfires, Melinda Marks as Romeo, and April Culver as Juliet.

Making both of the famed lovers women is not a gimmick. Silicon Valley Shakespeare Artistic Director Angie Higgins vividly recalled hearing the director's idea to frame the iconic story within a queer lens and the passion in Mara's voice as she gave her reasoning for portraying Romeo as a woman. "Each word that she spoke rang true in highlighting the themes of this iconic tragedy," Higgins said.

When the play opens, the ancient feud between the Capulet and Montague families has escalated to the point of brawling and bloodshed. The prince, in an effort to quell the fighting, has doomed the perpetrators of the next brawl to death. In an attempt to cheer up their lovesick friend Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio sneak her into a feast at the rival Capulet's house where she first glimpses Juliet and falls in love at first sight. Juliet, falling just as hard, plots with her nurse and Romeo's mentor, Friar Lawrence, to marry Romeo in secret. All goes well until fate intervenes.

Everyone knows how this love story ends. What isn't known or oft addressed is how or why the warding families deny the pair's love and who they are meant to be. And in the context of two women in love, the families and their decision to keep them apart remind us that homophobia and the stripping away of women's rights still happen today.

Romeo and Juliet will have a special Pride Night on Saturday, June 18th when audiences are encouraged to show off their queer pride. Other themes taking place during the run include a Blind/Low-Vision Accessibility Night on Sunday, June 12th, to include pre-show tactile tours and actor meet-and-greets; and an ASL-Interpreted Night on Thursday, June 16th, including ushers who use American Sign Language.

The show will take place outdoors at Willow Street Park (1320 Willow Street, San José, CA 95125), Thursdays-Sundays, June 3-19, at 7 PM. Runtime is 2 hours and 10 minutes. Admission is free! For more information visit svshakespeare.org.


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