Marianna Bassham Directs Fresh Take on Romeo and Juliet in Boston

Marianna Bassham directs Actors' Shakespeare Project's production of Romeo and Juliet at the Calderwood Pavilion in Boston, running until June 2. Bassham's version takes a fresh approach, focusing on relationships and love, with live music, a pink set, and unique movement choreography.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Marianna Bassham Directs Fresh Take on Romeo and Juliet in Boston

Marianna Bassham Directs Fresh Take on Romeo and Juliet in Boston

Marianna Bassham, a Boston-based theater artist, directs Actors' Shakespeare Project's production of Romeo and Juliet at the Calderwood Pavilion in Boston, running until June 2. Bassham's version of the classic tragedy takes a fresh and empathetic approach, focusing on relationships and love.

Bassham's production cuts over two-thirds of the original lines from Shakespeare's text, adds new moments, and features live music performed by an onstage actor throughout the play. This approach makes the centuries-old tragedy feel "very now," according to Bassham. "It feels like working on a new play," she quotes an actor in the production.

Bassham's emphasis on relationships and love in the play makes the story feel more relatable and contemporary. She searches for the love between characters, believing that it makes the story more engaging and easier to play. "What if there's a flip side to every antagonistic relationship in the play, which is what if that was actually a loving relationship?" she asks.

The set is primarily pink, with a pink floor treatment that Bassham describes as "bleeding out." The costumes are in neutral tones, and Bassham has cast young actors in most roles to make dynamics between characters more nuanced and intriguing.

The violence in the play relies on unique, ambitious movement choreography staged entirely without weapons. Bassham notes that there's "something very oddly intimate about the moments of violence and death in this play, even between antagonistic pairs."

Bassham draws inspiration from actors like Cate Blanchett and artists like Cindy Sherman, who are not afraid to embrace the rawness of human experiences. She also admires directors like Kimberly Senior, David Cromer, Bevin O'Gara, and Jenny Koons, who ask questions that Bassham asks herself as an actor and director.

Ultimately, Bassham hopes that her production of Romeo and Juliet feels immediate, visceral, and surprising. She aims to make Shakespeare veterans find new moments in the play and experience familiar moments in different ways, and for young audiences to relate to the relationships and realize that Shakespeare is not dusty.

Key Takeaways

  • Marianna Bassham directs a fresh, empathetic Romeo and Juliet at Boston's Calderwood Pavilion.
  • The production cuts 2/3 of the original lines, adds new moments, and features live music.
  • Bassham focuses on relationships and love, making the story feel relatable and contemporary.
  • The set is primarily pink, with neutral-toned costumes and young actors in most roles.
  • The production aims to feel immediate, visceral, and surprising, making Shakespeare feel new.