“Romeo and Juliet” brings classic love story to CSUN with a twist

Katie Donahue

William Shakespeare’s classic play “Romeo and Juliet” is coming to CSUN with a twist on the familiar tale of family rivalry and young love.

The Acting Company is bringing its national tour to campus Oct. 27 at the Plaza del Sol at 8 p.m.

Kaliswa Brewster and Alejandro Rodriguez star in The Acting Company's "Romeo and Juliet." Photographed by Ivana Goldstein, courtesy of The Acting Company

The production stays true to the original language but is set in 1912.

Elizabeth Stahlmann is reprising her role of the nurse for the second year.

“It was a time when people of the post-Victorian, pre-WWI era were developing their own set of rules,” Stahlmann said.

Kaliswa Brewster plays Juliet Capulet.

“It was a time of immense hope in the world,” Brewster said. “The tragedy (of the play) only bears any weight if we start at a place of hope.”

When “Romeo and Juliet” was written, people believed fate ruled their lives, Brewster said, adding that the characters are actively trying to control their destiny.

“With the economy, the climate, the war, I think the idea that choice is highly important resonates with a lot of people,” she said.

The issue of family dynamics is also a main theme in regards to the infamous feud between the Montagues and Capulets, particularly when it comes to generational differences.

“The young people are inheriting the struggles of their ancestors,” Stalhmann said, adding that in the play, they either commit to the struggle or break free.

The generational struggle is evident in the love story between the 13-year-old Juliet and the slightly older Romeo.

Alejandro Rodriguez plays Romeo.

“One of the things (Shakespeare) is asking us to consider about young love is that it is important,” Rodriguez said. “Just because you’re 15 doesn’t mean it should be brushed aside.”

The play also highlights the danger of dismissing young people’s passions, whether that passion is for love, sports or art, Rodriguez said.

“If there was just a little more listening in this play, it wouldn’t end the way it does,” Rodriguez said.

Shakespeare’s body of work as a whole also continues to endure despite the passage of time.

“He was really able to capture, literally, the heartbeat of humanity,” Brewster said. “It endures because who we are as people, flawed people trying to make it in the world, that’s never going to be something that goes out of style.”