Wherefore Art Thou

Romeo and Juliet, brought to life on WBHS’s stage.


On Friday, March 14th, 2014 the West Bloomfield High School freshman English classes were treated to a special opportunity. They were able to see Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet during school hours while they studied the play. The show was performed by Michigan’s Shakespeare Festival a nonprofit professional theater founded in 1995. Their mission is to inspire and further develop an appreciation for Shakespearean theater. This was the first time WBHS was able to treat the freshman students to a live performance of Romeo and Juliet. This Shakespeare company consists of ten actors who specialize in Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth who each play multiple roles.  The show was presented with minimal props and no sets. The actors wore period appropriate costumes mixed with clothes from their own everyday life (such as jeans), just like the actors in Shakespeare’s day. The show was a success, featuring several dramatic and flashy fight scenes and had moments of humor dotted throughout the entire tragedy. “Technically this would be considered a problem play…where it’s not happy nor is it sad throughout but I think that in order for this to really work it’s a red-herring for the audience- that comedy… even if you know the ending you forget because you’re so entertained,” said actress Natalie Rose who played Lady Capulet in the play. The fight scenes were a favorite for the actors. Eric Eilerson, who played Tybalt in the production, commented, “The violence is used both comedically and tragically… Our fight director was very keen to tell us that the earlier fights have to be flashy. They are all about showing off because in this time you would fence and you would fight in the streets to show off… but once it turns into violence as in the Romeo and Tybalt fight and the Romeo and Paris fight.  Those are animalistic and raw, and I like how as the tone of the play changes the tone of the violence changes to match it” The play was integrated into the 9th graders curriculum as they are currently reading Romeo and Juliet in their English 9  classes.  The play was mainly to provide them not only background on the play, but also a different perspective so that they can better interpret the performance. Ninth grader, Amina Sharif says, “The play was really interesting to watch because we’re reading it in English class. It was cool to watch it being performed instead of from a book. The actors weren’t what I pictured them to  be, so that was a change. It made me appreciate Shakespeare more. Before, I thought it was boring but now I definitely like it more than I used to.” Freshman Alec Rinaldi agreed that it helped with his English class, saying, “I didn’t like how they cut out some scenes and I liked how they were really into the play.” Overall, the play was received quite well by the freshman class. Most said that it provided them with a fresh new take on the story of Romeo and Juliet as well as lending the story some comic relief to the otherwise-dramatic story. Needless to say, West Bloomfield High School’s students will be looking forward to seeing the plays they are reading in class performed for years to come.