Oak Park Festival Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet focuses on contemporary themes and voices
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Oak Park Festival Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet focuses on contemporary themes and voices

Pull up a chair or blanket as Austin Gardens transforms into an Italian Verona for Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet through August 17. This performance is Artistic Director Peter G. Andersen’s second appearance with the company, following a performance at the Oak Park Festival Theatre A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the summer of 2023. Shakespeare’s comedy was written around the same time as Romeo and Julietprobably between 1594 and 1596.

Andersen’s staging of both plays provides a vivid juxtaposition of Shakespeare’s thematic elements and messages. Although they were written during the same period of social and civil unrest, each piece was conceived with different intentions.

“(Shakespeare) wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a fantasy and an escape for his audience to escape from this confusion,” Andersen said. “While Romeo and Juliet it’s the other way around, where it asks the audience to look critically at the causes of violence and not turn away from them.