Elm Shakespeare Company Announces 2017 Season: Romeo & Juliet & a Year of Related Community Events

NEW HAVEN, CT: Elm Shakespeare Company announced today the 2017 Free Shakespeare in the Park production will be Shakespeare’s beloved and iconic story of ill fated love, The Tragedy of Romeo & Juliet. In addition to the traditional summer performances the company will present a series of community-wide events throughout the year focusing on the plays relevance today.

"Here's much to do with hate, but more with love." – Romeo, Act 1, scene 1

The choice of Romeo & Juliet for this year’s summer season was made in response to the ongoing and unparalleled divisiveness in the nation. The company felt the play would serve its ongoing work to bring people together through Shakespeare to experience a shared humanity and build community.

Producing Director Rebecca Goodheart elaborates, “Beyond a romance, Romeo & Juliet is a cautionary tale about the tragic cost of reactionary violence when a community is addicted to its own division. It offers an extra-ordinarily simple and transformational solution: ...faith in our children and love. We hope not only to entertain but hopefully to help unite our own community; so that we can come together to watch the tragedy instead of living it.”

For the first time in its 22 year history, an African American director, Raphael Massie has been chosen to bring the lyrical story of young love in a fraught world to life in a version that is both timeless and resonant for today. Massie brings twenty years professional experience as an actor and director in classical theater and a lifetime love and understanding of New Haven to the production.
Massie adds "As a homegrown product of the New Haven community, an SCSU alum, and a long-time Elm company member, this opportunity means more than I can say. In Romeo & Juliet, we see the effect of hate and violence, not only on those directly involved, but on the surrounding community. The 'ancient grudge' displays an 'us or them mentality', which fosters destruction and makes resolution possible only after dire consequences. Hopefully, we can learn from these young lovers that love is the most powerful weapon we have in the fight to protect our own humanity."

Massie will be joined by a creative team that includes long time company members lighting designer Jamie Burnett and set designer Elizabeth Bolster with choreography by Kaia Monroe Rarick, fights by Ted Hewlitt. The cast will include company founder James Andreassi.

A year-long series of community-wide events to explore the play in depth and engage the New Haven community will begin on Sunday, February 26th at 4pm with a community reading of the play at SCSU’s Lyman Center for the Performing Arts in the Drama Lab. All ages and abilities are encouraged to attend and read alongside company actors. The event is free and refreshments will be provided.

Summer Performances will run Thursday, August 17th through Sunday, September 3rd, Tuesday-Sunday at 8:00pm in Edgerton Park in New Haven located at 75 Cliff Street. As always the performances will be free to the public and picnicking prior to the performance is encouraged.  www.elmshakespeare.org