Fringe Review: R&J, a gender-reversed Romeo and Juliet

R&J Mine is Yours

I confess to being very confused by the production. In this modern twist on Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet, women play men and men play women. Or rather, women play male characters as men and men play female characters as women…I think.

My confusion comes with the use of pronouns and lack of consistency in the costuming. For example, Romeo is played by a woman and is now called Romea (Mary Ellen Schneider) and referred to as “she” and “my wife” but she’s playing the role as if she were a man. The same is true of the rest of the female actors. Their stance and posturing is male, and their energy is masculine, but they’re still referred to in the feminine. They’re even dressed mainly in gender-neutral leggings and vests with a masculine edge, and vice versa. The two female roles – Juliet, now Julian (Dane Oliver), and the Nurse (Alan Blumenfeld) – are men playing women as if they were women but they’re referred to in the masculine and dressed in men’s button down shirts and trousers. It’s confusing to even describe it.  More

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Fringe Spotlight: R&J, a gender reversed Romeo and Juliet

R&J Mine is Yours

Dane Oliver and Mary Ellen Schneider. Photo credit: Jenn Spain Photography

Mine is Yours Theatre Company remounts its adventurous 90-minute production of R&J, a gender-reversed Romeo and Juliet, following a successful preview run last November at Theatre of NOTE. While remaining faithful to Shakespeare’s language, R&J transforms Romeo into Romea, Juliet into Julian, Friar Laurence into Sister Laurence, etc., in an extravaganza of gender-swapping that makes this classic love story resonate in an electrifying new way.

The company knew last fall that they wanted their next production to be a fully gender-reversed Shakespeare classic. Given their mission statement to create more roles for women in every aspect of theatre, Shakespeare’s plays as written can present a challenge in terms of female representation onstage.

Mine is Yours executive director Hannah Pell explains, “Given the theatrical and legal constraints of his era, you can hardly blame Shakespeare for writing primarily male roles, and the female roles he did write are absolutely brilliant! But Shakespeare’s characters embody such fundamental truths about human nature that their words translate beautifully from one gender to another, and we wanted to see what might be revealed about these archetypal characters when you put their words in the mouths of the opposite gender.”   More

First Look: A Gender-Reversed R&J from Mine is Yours Theatre Company

R&J - Mine is Yours

Paul Turbiak as Julian, Mary Ellen Schneider as Romea and Cindy Kania

R&J, Mine is Yours Theatre Company’s gender-reversed Romeo and Juliet directed by Abby Craden will run for one more weekend, through November 16 at Theatre of NOTE in Hollywood. The cast includes Alan Blumenfeld (Nurse), Hayley Brown (Paris), Charles M. Howell IV (Capulet’s Husband), Katherine James (Capulet), Cynthia Kania (Sister Laurence), Wendy Pigott (Montague and Apothecary), Hannah Pell (Benvolia), Taylor Jackson Ross (Mercutia), Mary Ellen Schneider (Romea), Caitlin Stegemoller (Princess), Paul Turbiak (Julian), and Sarah Kay Watson (Tybalt).

R&J - Mine is Yours

Cindy Kania, Mary Ellen Schneider, and Alan Blumenfeld

R&J - Mine is Yours

Katherine James and Sarah Kay Watson

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Mine is Yours Theatre Company Announces Gender-Reversed R&J

Mine is Yours R&J
Mine is Yours has announced that its upcoming production of R&J, based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, will be a gender-reversed production, edited by Hannah Pell and directed by Abby Craden.

The Montague family is liberal and sexually free, particularly the wild and Bohemian daughter Romea. The Capulets are a traditional, religious family (led by a hot-headed woman and her reticent and timid husband), the most chaste and devout of whom is young Julian. Their feud is deep-seated, and the violence simmering in the streets of Verona can no longer be ignored. And that’s all before the play even begins.

The cast will include Alan Blumenfeld as Nurse, Hayley Brown as Paris, Charles M. Howell IV as Capulet’s Husband, Katherine James as Capulet, Cynthia Kania as Sister Laurence, Wendy Pigott as Montague and Apothecary, Hannah Pell as Benvolia, Taylor Jackson Ross as Mercutia, Mary Ellen Schneider as Romea, Caitlin Stegemoller as Princess, Paul Turbiak as Julian, and Sarah Watson as Tybalt.  More

Fringe Spotlight: A TWELFTH NIGHT that began in a Wedding Chapel

Twelfth Night - Mine is Yours

L-R: Hayley Brown, Nate Grams, Mary Ellen Schneider, Julie Dietz, Chris Greenwood, Hannah Pell. Photo credit: Nate Grams

In January 2014, Mine is Yours Theatre Company produced Twelfth Night, or What You, guerilla-style, in a local wedding chapel; a decision producer Hannah Pell says seemed especially appropriate. “More than any other Shakespeare comedy, this one seemed to specifically look at how life and death exist side by side, and the chapel was perfect for that.”

Now the company will remount the story of gender confusion, love unrequited, a jock strap, a drunk and a harmonium played by four women and two dudes at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, June 8 – 28. Christopher W. Jones directs the fast-paced 90-minute adaptation by Chris Greenwood as it evolves from a storybook fairytale into a complex, contemporary pursuit of love and revenge, exploring the tempestuous fury of affection not returned.  More

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