Saturday, December 22, 2012

ROMEO AND JULIET Performed by the NOLA Project at the New Orleans Museum of Art

I recently saw a wonderful performance of Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) by the NOLA Project. (NOLA stands for New Orleans, Louisiana.)

The setting at NOMA is, I think, unique. The play is performed in the museum's large entrance room, with audience chairs in a large horseshoe around the perimeter, facing  the museum's grand staircase, which divides into two branches leading up to the museum's second floor, where a balcony encircles and overlooks the entrance room. So there is a built-in balcony!

There is no stage set or furniture. (The only exception is a table draped in white with Juliet lying upon it, wheeled in for the final scene.) The actors simply act right on the floor of the entrance room, in front of us.

This means that, when Juliet drinks the potion provided by Friar Lawrence, so that she will appear to be dead, she has no bed or other furniture to fall back upon when she loses consciousness. This scene is done very cleverly. As Juliet prepares to drink the potion, two spectres -- each one draped and hooded in white and carrying a candle -- descend the two branches of the grand staircase, meet in the middle, continue on toward Juliet, reach her just as she drinks the potion, lock arms with her, and walk her off. Very impressive! Later, I figured out that the spectres are the ghosts of the slain Mercutio and Tybalt.

An added point of interest is that the performance was preceded by a raffle for dinner with Romeo! The actor playing Romeo would take you out to dinner (I've forgotten at which restaurant), you would receive a necklace and roses, and a violin would be played at your table. Of course, Romeo would have to be prepared to have this dinner with a woman or a man of any age. There was no gender or age requirement for this raffle! It was won by someone named Juanita, who was not present. I really like the idea, and I hope that Juanita and Romeo have a great time!

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