Romeo & Juliet performances coming to Strand Theatre

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company will stage Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet at Dorchester's Strand Theatre this month. Community performances are Friday, May 29, 7:30 p. m.; and Saturday, May 30 at p. m. (ASL Interpreted), with an Open House with tours of The Strand and free workshops starting at 12:30 p.m. All tickets are $5.

Special thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, the City of Boston, Xfinity, and Dorchester Reporter.

CSC2 is a young, diverse company of 12 non-Equity early-career actors, with some professional experience, working with CSC on an extended basis. As both a distinct ensemble focused on peer learning, and alongside the professional actors and artists of the mainstage company, CSC2 will perform in a variety of productions, including CSC's Free Shakespeare on the Common production of King Lear this summer.

Perhaps the world's best-known story of love against insurmountable odds, Romeo & Juliet takes us to Verona, where a violent feud between rival families, the Montagues and Capulets, shatters the peace of everyday life. As this bloodshed pushes the city to the brink of martial law, the teenage children of each family, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, discover in each other a forbidden love so consuming and powerful, it could end the familial strife--until ill-timed circumstances escalate the conflict, fueling vengeance, and hasty choices that ultimately push each of them to desperate measures.

The production also marks the debut of Shakespeare OFF the Common, an innovative three-part arts program designed to foster community interaction, created in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events, and funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” grant.

In addition to the two community performances, six free student matinees will be performed at The Strand for Boston and area schools on: Thursday, May 21; Friday, May 22; Wednesday, May 27; Thursday, May 28; and Friday, May 29 at 10 a. m., and on Tuesday, May 26 at 11 a.m. To register a class for one of these performances, as well as educational workshops, contact CSC's Community Education Coordinator Marissa Friedman at ( .

The Strand Theatre's mission is to serve as a cultural and educational resource to artists and audiences regardless of race or cultural background, age, ability, gender, economic level, or sexual orientation. Central to the Strand's mission is the development and implementation of youth arts educations programs. The Strand Theatre has a special commitment to the surrounding communities of Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan.

At the end of the Strand run, the production will be reduced to a one-hour traveling work that will become the focal point for three neighborhood arts festivals, called the Fair Verona Festivals. CSC has partnered with three Boys & Girls Clubs in Boston neighborhoods to curate open-air Fair Verona Festivals, which will focus on different themes from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. The clubs will promote the festivals to their constituents and provide key infrastructure for the event. Each festival will be held in parks and outdoor spaces adjacent to the following clubs:

West End House Boys & Girls Club (Ringer Park: 105 Allston Street, Allston)

Date: Friday, July 10, 2015, 4:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m. Theme: Recklessness vs. Responsibility

Blue Hill Boys & Girls Club (Harambee Park: 15 Talbot Avenue, Dorchester) Date: Saturday, July 11, 2015, 4:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. Theme: Family Dynamics

Yawkey Boys & Girls Club of Roxbury (Baseball Field: 115 Warren St., Roxbury) Date: Friday, July 17, 2015, 3:00 p.m.– 7:00 p.m. Theme: Fate and Free Will

Based on these themes, each Fair Verona Festival will have a rotating mainstage as well as tents and booths showcasing the work of CSC2, work from host Boys & Girls Clubs, as well as local artists. Festivals will include workshops in the visual and performing arts, and interactive outdoor activities, including, but not limited to, painting, drawing, , dancing, fight choreography, improvisation, and theater games. To date, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Urbanity Dance and Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals have committed to participating and CSC is talking to other local arts groups about participating. CSC is also pursuing in-kind donations from local businesses. All Fair Verona Festivals will be FREE and open to the public.

Shakespeare OFF the Common is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts "Our Town" grant program.

For more information, visit or call 617 426-0863.