The Clemente High School freshmen were honored to attend the production of “Romeo and Juliet” on March 24 as a culminating activity to their theater unit. Teatro Vista, one of the most prominent theater companies in the Midwest, offered a free performance of the play to specific schools so students could experience the transformative power of theater.
Before the play started, actors and actresses held a pre-show “meet and great” with students to answer questions and to provide information about their acting journey. Students enjoyed the performance from start to finish, especially the intricate costumes and realistic fencing. According to Yetzamil Pedroza, “My favorite part of the play was the ending when Romeo and Juliet died. It was ironic that each character misinterpreted the death of their loved one.” Yetzamil also described how interesting it was to see the difference between the tombs during the Renaissance period compared with modern day tombs. Students were especially awed by the level of practice and persistence that it took for the actors to memorize the complex Shakespearean language of “Romeo and Juliet”.
Back at school, students referred back to their experience in order to compare and contrast the live theatrical rendition of “Romeo and Juliet” to Franco Zeffirelli’s well-known film and to Shakespeare’s original text. Students engaged in multiple forms of creative analysis of the play. They wrote letters from the perspective of one character to another character, using Shakespearean language with a modern flare. They also drafted Facebook pages for the characters of the play, creating statuses, events, comments, wall posts, profile pictures, and more to fit the characters’ varying personalities and experiences. Finally, students engaged in a lively debate in which they argued and justified who was truly to blame for the tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet.