VACAVILLE — The names remain the same, but the two star-crossed lovers from the mind of Shakespeare will find themselves in a very modern setting this weekend.
The teens at J&S Performing Arts Center, under the direction of Jacqueline “Jack” Haines, will introduce bullying, texting and modern fashion trends in the production of “Romeo & Juliet.”
The teens had discussed doing a show about bullying. Haines, who has worked with most of the teens on their two prior shows, couldn’t find a script she liked that dealt with the issue.
“I knew Shakespeare well,” she said. With the support of her co-director Adam Kreamer, she left in much of the Shakespearean speak and switched out some words to reflect the current-day setting.
She was able to rely on her experience of not feeling she fit in at high school. Haines completed her high school years at Buckingham Charter Magnet High School in Vacaville.
The actors and actresses wear their own clothes. Friar Tuck has been replaced by a therapist.
Music from Green Day, Death Cab for Cutie and Passion Pit will be heard.
“I looked for lyrics that connect to the scenes,” Haines said.
She wants audience members to think about what they saw and, hopefully, draw the conclusion that the feud between the Capulets and Montagues was ridiculous and pointless.
Jenna Kitzes, 13, is Juliet.
“Juliet is, like, boy crazy,” she said of her character. “She also really holds back a lot but thinks out loud. In my opinion, she’s not a talker. She won’t talk if she doesn’t have to.”
Jake Waid, 17, is Romeo. He aspires for a career, such as sports broadcasting, where he can do a lot of talking.
“I’m a people person,” he said.
He was bullied earlier in life and has had some friends deal with the same. The show, he hopes, will give anyone bullied a look at how to deal with it.
“I know it’s cliché, but ignore it,” he said. “The more you respond, the more they feed off you.”
“It’s hard not to respond,” Jenna said. Standing by and watching someone being bullied doesn’t help, either, she said.
Both said they had heard stories about their peers who had killed themselves after being bullied.
Waid said the show is a must-see for his age group.
“You will realize what bullying can do,” he said.
Jenna also hopes teens in the audience will realize that disrespecting someone because of their religion or class is not right.
“There are so many more important things than race and social class that people should be concerned about,” Waid said.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.