|Bronze statue of Juliet in Verona, Italy
And Juliet is a lot cooler to me.
|Olivia Hussey in Franco Zefferelli's
1968 Romeo and Juliet.
|Claire Danes in Baz Luhrmann's
1996 Romeo + Juliet
I am lucky to be building on a strong foundation in the script for What, Lamb! What, Ladybird! by Charlene V. Smith. The arc that Charlene constructs in What, Lamb! What, Ladybird! shakes me and resonates with me. It is my animating question made particular and personal. The shift Charlene sculpts from self-denial to self-acceptance, even self-embrace, is a difficult one to accomplish in life and in theater, but Charlene does it with poetry, refreshing simplicity, and deep intelligence. And Charlene’s rooting of the question “why do we reject Juliet?” in her own struggles with her own identity lets the play also resonate with our larger cultural discussion of whether one can be feminine and feminist at the same time.
|Charlene V. Smith in the
premiere production of
What, Lamb! What, Ladybird!
That is why I decided on an all-female cast. By knowing that their collective knowledge and experience bolsters my own, and will, hopefully, correct me, frees me to do my job. I can mold space, voice, and rhythm, then, knowing that we can, as a group come to some well established answer for my questions, though it will certainly not be the only one.
Directing plays is a puzzle. It can be a simple puzzle, or a difficult one. Directing an all-female play about Juliet is a wonderful challenge that plants its feet and demands that I change who I think I am in order to get to the bottom of it. I love it when a play acts exactly like its subject.