The African-American Shakespeare Company's Romeo and Juliet Casts Oakland Teens in the Leads

Those violent delights have violent ends.

Baz Luhrmann famously updated Romeo and Juliet by setting it in a modern-day Miami-esque “Verona Beach.” And Oakland’s African-American Shakespeare Company is outdoing the Aussie director by staging a version set in the 1970s.

[jump] Partnering with the Oakland School for the Arts, the company has cast sophomore Jacob Williams and Alvin Ailey Summer Program student Wilkins Pierre as Romeo, and freshman Atiana Skoken and competitive tap dancer and ballet student Jazara Metcalf in the role of Juliet. Directed by AASC Executive Director Sherri Young and Artistic Director L. Peter Callender, this version of Shakespeare’s tragedy extrapolates the rivalry between two houses, both alike in dignity, as they duke it out in a period of crime and urban decay.

While the play opens Saturday, Oct. 17, a special preview will be held tonight as Litquake takes over for the first of nine performances, including local literary legends Amy Tan and Dennis Lehane, plus Tracey Stewart and Ali Liebegott. Don’t be fortune’s fool! Standing above all the “misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms” out there, this innovative retelling of most people’s first introduction to the Bard lasts for only nine performances.

Romeo and Juliet, through Nov. 7 at the Buriel Clay Theater, 762 Fulton.

Tags: , , ,

Related Stories