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Austin Shakespeare Festival brings accessibility to the greatest love story

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Image: Shakespeare Books and Swords

"The greatest play dealing with love ever written is, without a doubt, Romeo and Juliet," says Guy Roberts, Artistic Director for the Austin Shakespeare Festival. "It's the greatest love story of all time, and everyone who sees Romeo and Juliet knows what it's like to love so much that you think you're going to kill yourself or kill somebody else if you don't have that love in your life."

Image: Romeo and Juliet PosterYet, the players and crew of the Austin Shakespeare Festival think getting people to go out and see Shakespeare that's the hardest part.

"I think a lot of people learn early to shut down to Shakespeare," says Joy Farmer-Clary, who plays Juliet in this year's production of Romeo and Juliet. "They've decided that it's hard, that it's too advanced for them to be able to understand, they think it'll be done in a funny accent maybe, but it's some unattainable thing that doesn't relate to the real world today."

"Some productions are that way," says Tom Green, who plays Lord Capulet. "boring, pontificating. Guy drives that right out of you. He makes you earthy. He gets you down into it."

The Austin Shakespeare Festival hopes they can change that image.

Photo: Juliet on stage"I think that when people come to Austin Shakespeare Festival productions, one of the thing which we pride ourselves on is that they are imminently accessible," says Roberts. "When we begin to experience Shakespeare, we begin to understand ourselves, and we also begin to understand what it is to be human. To me, Shakespeare didn't write for the English class. He never thought that his plays would be studied 400 years after his death. He meant for his plays to be experienced in a theater."

"It's perfect. It's human emotion, human experience, put into poetry. So, you have everyday life, which is very common, and you take that, and you freeze-frame it into something that you can tweak and make perfect. You add some poetry to it, you add some glamour to it, and it's just so honest and beautiful."

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Produced by Akasha Banks, a first-semester production intern with KLRU and a third-year Radio-Television-Film student at UT. Following graduation, she will humbly solicit employment as a film editor.

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