This past weekend, the Amherst College Green Room performed Shakespeare’s classic “Romeo and Juliet,” with a twist. The cast traveled with the audience across campus to perform several scenes in different locations. The audience was treated to a massive Capulet vs. Montague brawl on the stairs of Frost Library, attended the Capulet ball and watched the iconic balcony scene in the Greenway courtyard, witnessed Mercutio and Tybalt’s deaths on the first-year quad and bore witness to the tragic final scene in front of the Mead. I spoke with Dakota Meredith ’17, the producer of The Green Room, Sophina Flores ‘20, the technical director of The Green Room and stage manager of “Romeo and Juliet,” Lorelei Deitz ’20 director of “Romeo and Juliet”, Michael Barnett ’18, the artistic director and founder of The Green Room, and “Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet” about the production and what’s next for the Green Room.
Q: What made you pick “Romeo and Juliet”?
Meredith: The Green Room Production Team (Michael Sophina and I) first came up with the idea to perform around campus when we began discussing how we could best utilize locations on campus for a production of a Shakespeare play. Last semester, The Green Room performed an abridged version of “Macbeth” on the first-year quad and we wanted to expand upon this idea of putting on a show that transformed the amazing spaces Amherst has to offer, which we as students often take for granted. From there, we discussed what play would be best suited for this vision of our production. The decision to use “Romeo and Juliet” stemmed from our desire to use a play whose plot is very well-known, so that members of the campus community who stumbled across our show would be able to join without missing key plot elements.
Q: How did you come up with the idea to perform around campus?
Barnett: Well, practically speaking, there’s no need to reserve spaces outside, so that made our job a little easier. Beyond that, we were looking for a way to raise the profile of the Green Room to attract more members and also to bring theater to people who might not otherwise see it. Personally, I also like the idea of doing Shakespeare outside as it was originally performed. It lends a kind of authenticity and intimacy to the piece which I think gets lost sometimes in a traditional proscenium arch theater.
Q: How did you pick which scenes to perform and what locations to do them in?
Deitz: Sophina and I looked at recognition, intensity and humor. Both the opening and ending were used so that the entire experience could be wrapped up nicely. The opening also had a lot of visual elements and movement we thought would be more entertaining. That is also why we included the fight scene between Mercutio and Tybalt, then Tybalt and Romeo. The party scene was picked to foster that sense of tension between Capulets and Montagues so that the piece seemed more cohesive. And of course, the balcony scene was picked because it’s not Romeo and Juliet without it. Locations were picked based on their aesthetic, if they matched the look of the scene we were going for.
Q: How was this show different from any other show you’ve done/participated in?
Flores: It was most different in the flexibility we had, both in performance space and rehearsal timing. The times for these rehearsals changed on a weekly and daily basis which gave us a freedom that I have never had with any other show before. The performance space gave us so many options for the myriad of ways we could utilize Amherst’s wonderful campus, and playing with the different ways we could stage the scenes was also extremely liberating.
Q: How did you manage to get this show on the road in just a few weeks?
Deitz: Stress. Lack of sleep. Many practices, as the actors can testify to. Also a miracle (and by a miracle I mean Sophina, she’s the best stage manager).
Q: What was the most challenging part of the production?
Flores: The most challenging part of the production was the scheduling, both in the sense that we had a lot of people who have the Amherst habit of doing literally everything in existence, but also in the sense that we needed an adequate amount of rehearsal to pull off a huge endeavor like this in only three weeks, while still trying to hold true to the Green Room philosophy of low-commitment, accessible theater. So, attempting to find the balance between quality and accessibility in a short amount of time with a million conflicts was the biggest challenge.
Q: What was the most rewarding part of the production?
Barnett: I really enjoyed getting to know some of our new members! Part of what Green Room is trying to achieve is to create a community for people interested in theater on this campus, and I really had fun having the opportunity to begin to build that community through this project.
Q: What’s next for the Green Room?
Meredith: During the process of creating “Romeo and Juliet,” several members of The Green Room (including myself) have been working on a second project: writing an original parody of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” This Friday, we’ll be holding auditions at 7 p.m. in Webster Studio 2 for the production, which will be performed at the end of the semester.