RED BANK – Two River Theater’s most popular education program, A Little Shakespeare, breaks the mold this year to create something entirely new with Tiny Shakes: Romeo and Juliet, adapted and directed by Em Weinstein (“A Little Shakespeare: Twelfth Night”).
Every season, Two River Theater introduces hundreds of young people – and adults – to the work of the Bard through its annual A Little Shakespeare program, now in its eighth season.
More than 140 students from 28 different schools have participated in seven A Little Shakespeare productions: “As You Like It,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Pericles,” “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” “The Comedy of Errors,” “Macbeth” and “Twelfth Night.” The program has welcomed over 7,000 audience members, including more than 2,800 students from 35 schools across New Jersey.
This year, the program takes the limitations of 2021 as an opportunity for stu- dents to delve deeply into Shakespeare’s star-crossed romantic tragedy, giving them the agency to tell the story of each scene in their own way and film it. Traditional Zoom scene reading? Rap battle? Movement or dance piece? Animation? The sky’s the limit!
“I’m so thrilled to be returning to Two River’s A Little Shakespeare program for this exciting, elaborate and experimental take on Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ ” said adaptor and director Em Weinstein. “Over the course of several weeks, the teens and I will tear into this great tragedy and make something entirely our own. This collage will be sure to feature music, acting, film-making and the incredible talents of a diverse group of teens from schools all over.”
“This time in quarantine has shown us much about our need to relate and tell each other stories,” said John Dias, artistic director of the Two River Theater. “The restrictions have challenged us to invent new ways to connect and keep theater alive. One of the things I love about all great, plucky, theater artists like Em Weinstein is their gift for resourcefulness and ingenuity. Show them an obstacle and they’ll make a fabulous show of it! They do what Shakespeare says of every poet who takes ‘the forms of things unknown… turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name.’ ”
Video submissions will be edited into a theatrical collage that can be accessed through Two River’s website in May. There, audiences and educators can take the journey of the play through the videos and continue to use this site as a resource.
High school students interested in acting, Shakespeare, filmmaking, design (costumes, props, lighting, sound), editing, stage management, directing and more are eligible for the program. This program is entirely virtual, so any high school student who can attend rehearsals in the Eastern Time Zone, is encouraged to fill out an application online and submit an audition video which must be two to three minutes long and inspired by a scene or moment from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Those interested in acting should make sure the video includes them performing a monologue from the show. Applicants are encouraged to be creative. The video can include music, dance, humor, found footage, drawings and more: The purpose of the video is for the committee to get to know the applicant. Applications are due March 1.
Additional audition details can be found at tworivertheater.org/tiny-shakes.