Students, an early warning: if you plan on walking through Saybrook College on the evenings of Oct. 26 or 27, you may inadvertently find yourself in the middle of a Shakespearean tragedy.
This fall, Sarah Weiss ’05 and Nathan Kitada ’05 have taken it upon themselves to stage a 60-minute version of “Romeo and Juliet.” Sounds trite? Think again. The Branford sophomores have transformed the famous play into a showdown between the dueling Branford and Saybrook colleges, cast as the houses of Montague and Capulet, respectively. And if that’s not enough innovation, Kitada and Weiss have staged the play as a roving outdoor production, using the Branford and Saybrook courtyards as their stage.
Weiss and Kitada are a well-established producing/directing duo, having already turned out the short film “Unorthodox” with a sold-out debut in Dwight Hall last spring. Their move to theater this fall was largely a result of Weiss’ enthusiasm for the topic.
“Nathan had a million ideas for projects this fall, and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was just something he had considered doing in the Vanderbilt courtyard last year,” Weiss said. “When the idea came up at the beginning of the semester, I jumped on it. I was really enthusiastic about it from the outset. Nate loved the challenge of trying to use the colleges’ outdoor space in inventive ways.”
The project has since gained Sudler funding, completed the audition process and is currently in rehearsal.
“All the Montagues are played by Branford students and all the Capulets by Saybrook kids,” Kitada explained. “We even have [Saybrook Master Mary] Miller playing Lady Capulet. We cast the neutral roles with students outside the two colleges.”
Though Kitada is a seasoned director, he stressed that, for him, the play is less about fulfilling an artistic vision and more about encouraging a healthy rivalry between the colleges.
“This play isn’t intended as high art; it’s more an attempt to reawaken some healthy competition between Saybrook and Branford,” Kitada said. “I see it as a way for kids who have in the past been intimidated by Yale theater to get involved and try new things. I leave the actors to make their own interpretations of the play and just have fun with it.”
Claire Kenny ’05 is one such actor.
“I hadn’t been in a play since fifth grade and I thought, ‘I should not graduate from Yale without doing theater,'” Kenny said. “This was the perfect place for me to get the experience without stressing myself out too much.”
Weiss echoes the sentiments of both Kitada and Kenny regarding the atmosphere surrounding their production.
“As a producer, I want to make this an experience that everyone enjoys,” Weiss said. “The way I see it, people hang out, have fun together, and at the end of it all, get to put on a play.”