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Boston’s Shakespeare on the Common takes a 'feminist stance'

The company is putting a new spin on "Romeo and Juliet."
The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company's annual performances returns. Photo by Getty Images

Watch star-crossed lovers under the stars this summer at the upcoming Shakespeare on the Common production of "Romeo and Juliet." Performed by the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, theater savants and newbies alike can watch the free, outdoor show held at Boston Common starting this week.

"We are staying very true to the text," says director Allegra Libonati. However, this doesn't mean there haven't been a few changes. Libonati explains that while "Romeo and Juliet" can sometimes seem ubiquitous and commonplace, it is still an "amazing piece of work" that can hold many connections to our modern society.

Most notably, a "feminist stance" will be taken in this iteration with some strategic casting choices and a surprise ending with Ladies Montogue and Capulet. This comes with a slew of other theater productions recently crossing over into the political realm. Back in November, vice president Mike Pence attended a showing of "Hamilton" and received criticism from the audience and cast. A Shakespeare in the Park production of "Julius Caesar" also came under fire last month for using Donald Trump as the Roman dictator.

"I deeply respect the Julius Caesar production," explains Libonati. "But I also love the idea of setting a play in a past period and really letting the text speak. The audience can pick up on these topics and analyze them through a current lens."

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Other unique additions include a dance party, a big Venetian puppet parade and other grand spectacles throughout each night. For those who are not so familiar with the show, "Romeo and Juliet" tells the tale of two teenagers in Verona, Italy, who fall in love despite belonging to the quarrelling Capulet and Montague houses. Underlying themes of war, political dissen, and religion are crucial to the play and will certainly be upheld in the Commonwealth production.

"We are really focusing on making the play resonate with the audience, speaking to all those things that cause prejudice and violence in our world," Libonati says.

If you go:

July 19 to August 6, 7 pm, Boston Common, 139 Tremont St., Boston, free, commshakes.org

 
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