BWW Interview: Guerrilla Shakespeare Theatre's Crystal Stewart talks Romeo & Juliet
Crystal Stewart is a familiar face to Greenville theatregoers, appearing in productions all over town and even serving as a teaching artist for The Warehouse Theatre. But this year she took a step into producing, co-founding a New Theatre Company called Guerrilla Shakespeare Theatre Co.
"We are a theatre company without a home," Stewart says. "Performing in varied, unique spaces and highlighting the voices of marginalized groups through classical works, particularly Shakespeare, are our signatures."
Their first show, directed by Robert Fuson, is Romeo and Juliet, running in four different performance spaces from September 7-17 (details provided below). "Our focus with this show is on LGBTQ suicide," Stewart says, "so we have two women playing Romeo and Juliet, and several LGBT actors in our cast."
BWW asked Stewart to tell us a little more about the company and their first production.
What was the genesis of Guerrilla Shakespeare Theatre?
Well, Micah Miller came to me with the idea to put on a queer production of Romeo and Juliet, and from there we built the foundation of an entire company. Our mission is to use classical, familiar texts to tell the stories of marginalized groups, to encourage empathy and conversation and positive change.
How did you choose R & J as your first show?
It has always struck me how people concentrate so hard on the romance in Romeo and Juliet, and less on the fact that it is about teenagers who kill themselves. We wanted to tell that story, while focusing in on the LGBTQ community.
What's the overall concept for your production of R & J?
We brought it into a more modern setting, and focused on the series of choices that lead us to this tragic end.
Tell us a little about the cast.
We have a very diverse group! Parents, high school students, members of the LGBTQ community, allies. Actors, cosplayers, teachers. It has been a joy to work with old friends and make new ones!
What are the challenges - and joys - of performing the same show in different spaces over a small span of time?
The challenges and joys are very similar, honestly!! It is hard to feel uncertain, and to not be able to rely on your entrances and exits, acoustics, or so many other variables being exactly the same as they were last time. But on the other hand, it is impossible to get bored with what we are doing because it is constantly changing! I also like the idea of performing theatre in varied spaces, where people who might not seek out a theatre space might go!!
What has the rehearsal process been like?
The rehearsal process has been very organic and collaborative, and everyone has had an opportunity to share ideas. It has also been fun to watch everyone build their individual characters and also gel into one ensemble.
What kind of conversations do you hope to spark with this production?
I hope that audience members see a little of themselves in at least one character. I feel as if the best way to rouse that empathetic part of ourselves is to show that people and ideas that scare us are more familiar than we thought.
Guerrilla Shakespeare Theatre's production of Romeo and Juliet run from September 7 through 17. All shows start at 8pm, all shows cost 5 dollars. Online ticketing is available via the links posted beneath each listed location below. The online servicer charges a small fee, and payments are processed through PayPal (you do not have to have a PayPal account, credit cards are accepted!)
Tickets will also be sold at the door, cash only.
SHOW DATES AND SPACES
Thursdays September 7 and 14:
Quest Brewing Company
55 Airview Dr, Greenville, SC 29607
Fridays September 8 and 15 and Saturday September 16:
188 Kerns Avenue, Greenville, SC, 29609
Saturday September 9:
Sans Souci Community Garden
12 Ethelridge Drive, Greenville, SC, 29609
Sundays September 10 and 17:
914 Easley Bridge Rd, Greenville, SC, 29609
Photo credit: Burke Brown