Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Romeo & Juliet Dream

Last week, I dreamt I was in the audience of a stage production of Romeo & Juliet where Juliet was played by a perky blonde with a heart of gold & Romeo was played by a developmentally disabled actor.

The audience in my dream was politely silent as they processed the unlikely sight of an actor with Down's Syndrome wooing a maiden on a balcony. I didn't know what to make of it myself at first, but halfway through Romeo's monologue, I remember thinking, "This actor is fantastic!"

Now that I'm awake, this bold new take lingers and fascinates me. The adaptation writes itself in my mind. Two households, both alike in dignity, but separated by judgment, fear, and an subconscious attachment to outward appearances. Set in the 80's before political correctness made "retard" a taboo word.

Juliet, surrounded by privilege and expectation, finds true connection for the first time with a Romeo who is refreshingly real and different. Romeo risks everything to be with a girl who sees his heart, not his disability. Star-crossed lovers that society cannot accept. Tybalt becomes a bully who wants to beat up the retard who has no place in his world and Mercutio dies a noble death defending him.

The themes of morality, judgment, and class seem so well-suited for this twist. A classical tragedy made infinitely more tragic.

I want to write and direct this adaptation so badly!

But alas, I've never directed live theater, so I have no credentials at all to make this happen. (Plus, I've got a pilot script to write...)

So this dream is staying a dream for now. It will go on my list of projects that I would love to direct someday, right below my all-black Much Ado About Nothing and my The Last Five Years starring Scott Keiji Takeda. I'll muster the time, courage, and funding to do them someday.

In the meantime, if someone else is sparked by reading this adaptation idea, please please please do it! All I ask in return is a front row seat for opening night so I can sit and enjoy watching my dream realized.

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