Classic love story set for Hemstead Hall stage

HOPE – The “star-crossed lovers” of Verona from William Shakespeare will be brought to the stage at Hempstead Hall on the University of Arkansas-Hope campus here Tuesday, Oct. 22, as the Southwest Arkansas Arts Council and Hempstead Hall present the Arkansas Shakespeare Company production of “Romeo and Juliet.”

A tale of young love, circumstance and a tragic feud, “Romeo and Juliet” portrays the romance of teenagers Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet in the middle of a long-standing, and sometimes violent, feud between their two families. The Arkansas Shakespeare Company production is, however, intended for audiences of all ages, and has been shortened to approximately one hour, with songs and comedy, but also some intense emotional scenes and some violence.

The Arkansas Shakespeare Company is based at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, and is the only professional Shakespeare theater company in Arkansas.

Film director Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 movie based upon the play was considered ground-breaking for its use of teen actors in the lead roles when the story has historically been told using older actors “playing down” in the title roles. Believed to have been drawn from a narrative poem “The Traciall Historye of Romeus and Juliet,” published in 1562 by Arthur Brooke, Shakespeare’s play written about 1594-96 is considered a definitive love story of the boy and girl next door who fall hopelessly in love.

The ambitions of their wealthy families work to keep the two lovers apart; yet, they find ways to overcome those obstacles, until a fateful encounter forces Romeo into a duel with the braggart Tybalt. The lovers are drawn into an ill-conceived plan by a sympathetic Friar intended to have them marry and stop the feud; but, an unfortunate coincidence brings about a tragic result.

Curtain time is 7 p.m., and tickets may be obtained at online or by calling 870-722-8565.

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