Romeo And Juliet

By William Shakespeare
June 1 1997
directed by Henry Godinez

The city of Verona is tom by brawls between the feuding Montague and Capulet families. To restore peace, Prince Escalus decrees the lives of any future offenders shall be forfeit to law. In the midst of this Turbulent atmosphere, Lord Capulet hosts a feast, inviting Count Paris to attend to woo his only child, Juliet. Uninvited and in disguise, Romeo, heir to the Montagues, and a band of boisterous friends crash the banquet. Romeo and Juliet fall in love with each other at first sight, learning each others' identity only after they have parted. Evading the friends who wish to taunt him, Romeo scales the walls of the Capulet orchard and overhears Juliet's profession of her love for him. Romeo reveals himself, and the lovers exchange numerous vows of devotion. They are married secretly the next afternoon by Friar Lawrence, who hopes the union will end the feuding between their two families. After the ceremony, Romeo joins his companions, who are quarreling with Capulet's nephew, Tybalt. Having recognized Romeo at the previous night's festivities, Tybalt challenges him to a duel. When Romeo refuses, his friend Mercutio takes up the challenge and is mortally wounded. In an agony of grief, Romeo slays Tybalt, Juliet's kinsman, and is then banished by the prince. Knowing nothing of Juliet's secret marriage and believing she weeps immoderately for Tybalt's death, Lord Capulet insists she marry Paris. Unwilling to betray her true love, Juliet feigns acceptance of her father's plan and then takes a potion, given her by Friar Lawrence, that makes her appear to be dead. A letter explaining the Friar's plan is delayed, and Romeo believes his love is truly dead when news arrives of her funeral. Armed with deadly poison, he makes his way to Juliet's tomb, vowing never to leave his beloved's side.

Date Time
Sunday June 1 12:00 am
Closed

Shakespeare begins Romeo and Juliet with an ending. In the play's prologue, the chorus' declaration of the star-cross'd lovers" piteous fate makes their romance and tragic deaths seem like a foregone conclusion brought about by a remote and dispassionate cosmic order. To accept this revelation at face value, however, is to ignore the playwright's manipulation of the play's time scheme and his use of human agents to bring the story to its conclusion. Indeed, in Shakespeare's retelling of this ancient tale, the ruling cosmos is not remote at all; rather, the stars of heaven have fallen to earth, and their symbolic presence in our lower sphere drives the young lovers toward their doom, pitting fate against free will in a race against time.

The city of Verona is tom by brawls between the feuding Montague and Capulet families. To restore peace, Prince Escalus decrees the lives of any future offenders shall be forfeit to law. In the midst of this Turbulent atmosphere, Lord Capulet hosts a feast, inviting Count Paris to attend to woo his only child, Juliet. Uninvited and in disguise, Romeo, heir to the Montagues, and a band of boisterous friends crash the banquet. Romeo and Juliet fall in love with each other at first sight, learning each others' identity only after they have parted. Evading the friends who wish to taunt him, Romeo scales the walls of the Capulet orchard and overhears Juliet's profession of her love for him. Romeo reveals himself, and the lovers exchange numerous vows of devotion. They are married secretly the next afternoon by Friar Lawrence, who hopes the union will end the feuding between their two families. After the ceremony, Romeo joins his companions, who are quarreling with Capulet's nephew, Tybalt. Having recognized Romeo at the previous night's festivities, Tybalt challenges him to a duel. When Romeo refuses, his friend Mercutio takes up the challenge and is mortally wounded. In an agony of grief, Romeo slays Tybalt, Juliet's kinsman, and is then banished by the prince. Knowing nothing of Juliet's secret marriage and believing she weeps immoderately for Tybalt's death, Lord Capulet insists she marry Paris. Unwilling to betray her true love, Juliet feigns acceptance of her father's plan and then takes a potion, given her by Friar Lawrence, that makes her appear to be dead. A letter explaining the Friar's plan is delayed, and Romeo believes his love is truly dead when news arrives of her funeral. Armed with deadly poison, he makes his way to Juliet's tomb, vowing never to leave his beloved's side.

When Stars Fall to Earth: The Onslaught of Time Romeo and Juliet is filled with astronomical allusions, making the heavens a palpable and undeniable presence. Traditionally, the movement of the night sky has signified the inexorable passage of time, the stars moving ever forward in their seeming orbits about the poles. Shakespeare exploits this sense of inevitable, forward momentum through his myriad references to the heavens, and then magnifies the apparent onslaught of time by radically compressing the story's own timeline. His immediate source, Arthur Brooke's epic poem, allots a full nine months for Romeo and Juliet to meet, woo, wed and die. Shakespeare, however, covers the same territory in a mere five days. Romeo and Juliet are subjected to the everincreasing press of time, and this urgency, rather than their immaturity, drives the lovers to their untimely deaths. From the very beginning, images of the heavens and their effect on Shakespeare's earthbound characters are pronounced. Capulet invites Paris to an "old accustomed feast," where he may behold "earthtreading stars that make dark heaven light." Romeo sees Juliet at this banquet and falls into the first of several reveries in which he compares her to the sun, moon, stars and finally an angel. Even the party itself reinforces the idea of a forwardmoving cosmos, since the act of dancing functioned as a Renaissance metaphor for the order and progression of the heavens. Repeatedly, characters make references to celestial bodies and their rapidity of movement, figuring the torrent of time that sweeps those in its path toward their destinies. Periodically, Romeo and Juliet try to evade this celestial onslaught. As with every attempt to escape the stars' driving force, their hesitation is overwhelmed almost immediately and the lovers are once again swept up by the torrent of fastmoving passion. Stumbling across Juliet on her balcony, Romeo muses upon her beauty, proclaiming: "Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven, having some business, do entreat her eyes to twinkle in their spheres till they return. What if her eyes were there, they in her head?" Once again the stars become earthbound, bringing their fixed patterns and inexorable momentum with them. Juliet apparently senses this press of time, calling their sudden vows of love "too rash, too unadvis'd, too sudden." These misgivings are quickly overcome, however, by Romeo's arduous protestations of devotion, and the progress of the heavens and their love continues apace. Romeo's and Juliet's marriage, the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt, the lovers' wedding night and subsequent parting, and Capulet's decision to many Juliet to Paris all follow with lightning speed. Running out of time and in desperation, Juliet agrees to Friar Lawrence's drastic plan. When she feigns repentance for her refusal to marry Paris, Capulet is so overjoyed that he moves the wedding up by yet another day. Human agents take over for the heavens in moving the clock forward, and the lost time undermines the lovers' last chances for happiness. The letter fails to reach Romeo in time. Juliet awakens moments too late, and is forced to act when she hears the night watchman approaching, plunging the dagger into her breast after the briefest of goodbyes. Indeed, only after the lovers have tragically ended their desperate race against time does the cosmos relent, when "the sun for sorrow will not show his head". Humanity plays its part in forwarding the celestial timeline, and any assertions of individual will or hesitation are necessarily carried before the press of time. Try as they may, Romeo and Juliet cannot escape the play's astral momentum. They choose to love one another, yet arguably not at the &antic pace set for them. Friar Lawrence intervenes with one solution after another, yet each time his plans are thwarted by unforeseen events. This complex relationship between choice and destiny, frequently identified as the central paradox of the play, reveals Shakespeare's craftsmanship as an artist as well as his sensitivity to the political climate of his day, where Protestants and Catholics were warring with each other over this very issue. Indeed, the exercise of individual will against external forces remains a compelling issue for us today, even if those meddling forces have become more social than celestial. As Brian Gibbons notes, "Romeo and Juliet is a drama in which speed is the medium of fate." The heavenly bodies and their fatal momentum have fallen to earth, sweeping Romeo, Juliet and all the Friar's plans into a torrent that must end in tragedy. The lightning speed of these events allows us to pity rather than judge the lovers, and to appreciate the prophetic irony of Friar Lawrence's warning: 'Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast." Herein lies the pathos and the greatness of this play: Romeo and Juliet have no choice but to run.