For the past five years, I’ve taught Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet–and loved it very much. Right around this time of year, I think my freshmen would have recently finished their “Romeo & Juliet Projects,” in which various students re-enacted scenes from the play, memorized, costumed, and completely staged, of course. It was one of my favorite parts of the year, and I will miss it.
So this year, I decided to do something different. Since I can no longer (for the time being) teach the play, I decided I want to experience it–firsthand. Earlier today, I auditioned for a part in Frisco Community Theatre’s upcoming production of Romeo & Juliet. I still don’t know if I will get a part or not, but auditions were fun, and I was at least good enough to get a “callback.” That means I go back on Monday evening to audition some more. While I was reading (and acting) various scenes from the play as part of my audition, I watched the number of people slowly decrease as fewer and fewer people were asked to continue. That was both scary and exciting at the same time. I’ve never really done anything like this before–although I’m very familiar with this particular play! I think a few people were surprised when I told them I had never been in a play before (or even auditioned for one), because I already had most of the lines memorized. Amazing what five years of practice will do…
My original intent (and still my greatest desire) was to play the part of Friar Laurence. While as a high school and college student I identified more with Romeo, as a teacher in my “older years” I always felt a stronger kinship with the intellectual, yet pragmatic friar. Plus, he has two of the best monologues in the whole play (his very first speech, and then the “Hold thy desperate hand” monologue).
Unfortunately, I didn’t even get to read any of Friar Laurence’s scenes today–they had me reading mostly for Romeo & Benvolio. I feel strangely too old to really play either of those characters, and there was at least one other guy reading for Romeo who was very impressive (and obviously experienced). But oddly enough, according to the audition guidelines, Romeo and Benvolio’s characters are ranged 21-30 (which I still barely qualify for), while Friar Laurence’s character is ranged 35-40 (for which I am too young).
Who knows. I doubt I really have the talent to play the lead role (having never even acted before), but perhaps they liked me enough to assign me another one of the younger characters (Benvolio, Tybalt, Paris, etc.). Mercutio is definitely beyond my ability. I just hope that I don’t get cast as Sampson or Gregory. What am I saying? I think I would probably be happy just to be in the midst of Shakespeare’s elegant verse once more, no matter the part. Wish me luck for Monday, and I’ll post more to let you know how it goes.