Over the past ten years, West Philadelphia’s Curio Theater has produced some of the best in the Philadelphia theater. They’ve produced versions of Twelfth Night, Equus, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and Slaughterhouse-Five. They’ve performed adaptations of Great Expectations and The Iliad, and created original plays such as Madville by Paul Kuhn.
Curio began its 2013-14 season with William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Since the season was oriented on issues of gender, many of the roles in the play were switched from men to women.
Juliet’s only parent was her mother, Lady Montague. Tybalt was a very different kind of character. And the play was now about a lesbian romance between Juliet and a woman named Romeo.
But there was controversy. Philadelphia magazine’s online article about the production attracted over 1200 responses. People around the country objected to the production’s gay content. They objected to the play being staged in a Methodist church. Some of them objected to doing Shakespeare in modern dress. And there were threats of violence made against Curio Theatre.
Within a few weeks, the story went national on the Drudge Report and Free Republic.com. The New York Times did a special article about the production artwork, including the striking poster by renowned photographer Kyle Cassidy (Armed America, War Paint, Who Killed Amanda Palmer?).
(ADDENDUM 3/23/2014: Two versions of Kyle’s poster can be viewed, at http://kylecassidy.tumblr.com/post/61025769460/poster-for-romeo-juliet-coolest-thing-ive-done and http://kylecassidy.tumblr.com/post/61117966436/one-more-romeo-juliet-poster-because-love-is-a)
A lot of people did not want you to see this play. But a lot more people supported the production. They felt the play was very important, and that the approach spoke to them. People who couldn’t come to Philadelphia to see the play wrote in asking about tours. So I decided that this play needed to be preserved and shared with a wider audience.
The Video Production
My name is Brian Siano, and I’m a video director and producer based in Philadelphia. I’ve been doing work with Curio for the past few years, and this is a Kickstarter to fund a DVD version of Curio Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet.
I organized a camera crew and a sound engineer, and we captured a performance with seven cameras. Over the next few months, I hunkered down with the Adobe Creative Suite and turned all of that video into a DVD package for people who wouldn’t be able to see this performance otherwise.
We’re still getting the DVDs and posters to the Kickstarter supporters. Once the Kickstarter supporters are taken care of, and we work out details with Curio, we’ll explore ways of getting the video out to a wider audience via video-on-demand and DVD-on-demand. Check back here in mid-2015 for news.