Mia Katigbak, Co-Founder of the National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO) spoke with us about Romeo and Juliet, one of four productions in our 2022/23 Season, and the partnership between Two River Theater and NAATCO.
Romeo and Juliet is onstage April 8–30 / 2023.
Can you talk a little about NAATCO and this partnership?
The NAATCO National Partnership Project (NNPP) is NAATCO’s newest initiative, whose purpose is to ingrain the inclusion of Asian Americans in the practice of theatres across the country. We ask our theatre partners to engage in a long-term process so that this inclusion becomes a permanent part of their organisms. John [Dias] and I have known each other for a while, we’ve worked together before (he was an invaluable resource for our production of Henry VI: Shakespeare’s Trilogy in Two Parts and I got to do I Remember Mama at TRT) and we were working on the Play On! Shakespeare Festival in 2019 (he directed me in Cymbeline) when I approached him about the NNPP. The very first thing we ask our partners to do is produce a play that conforms to NAATCO’s programming and I thought that Hansol Jung’s Romeo and Juliet, which had been commissioned by Play On, and which would be done with an all-Asian American cast, was a perfect project to undertake with TRT. We also ask our partners to include pre- and post-performance events that supplement the audience’s experience of the play, and that center Asian Americans. These kinds of events are already part of TRT’s practice, John liked Hansol’s R&J, and much of John’s thinking aligns with ours in terms of representation, so he accepted!
What can audiences be excited for in this new take on Shakespeare’s classic tale?
The heightened bawdy. The humor. The bawdy humor, without gratuity. There are so many pressure points that make up the environment of the story, and the humor is a way to release these tensions. While the end is tragic, I find that Hansol’s version emphasizes love and its powers.
What contemporary elements can we look forward to?
The most readily identifiable contemporary element is the language, and Hansol’s modern verse is not just such a delight to perform, highlighting its lyricism and wit, I think it brings a very particular clarity to the story and its themes. There is also a velocity in this version that is super exciting.
Do you have a favorite line or exchange in the show that you feel will resonate with audiences?
Hansol’s balcony scene is breathtaking, literally and literarily. I feel the rush of love and Juliet is a force!
ABOUT ROMEO AND JULIET
The classic tale of star-crossed love is infused with contemporary vitality by playwright Hansol Jung (Wolf Play, Wild Goose Dreams, Cardboard Piano). Seen in 2020 as part of Two River Theater’s Two River Rising online reading series, this new take on Shakespeare’s ode to young love was originally commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Play On! project. It is produced as part of the NAATCO (National Asian American Theatre Company) National Partnership Project.
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