All this week we have been blocking out the staging of Romeo and Juliet. It has been a very challenging task because it is being staged on the grass in front of one the buildings on the campus of Sweet Briar College rather than in a theatre. The width allows us to show things going on on one side while the main scene plays on the other side, so we will see Juliet on her bench waiting for the Nurse while the Nurse is meeting with Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio. We will see the wedding being performed as Mercutio and Benvolio wonder where Romeo is and we will see Juliet climbing down a rope ladder to meet Romeo while her father assures Paris that she has gone to bed.
There is a big central door that we use for the Prince's entrances, romanesque arches that we use for Friar Laurence's cell, grassy areas on both right and left for the Capulets and the Montagues respectively, and a central walkway used in many of the big public scenes. In the above scene many of the Capulets are finding their places for the opening brawl.
In this picture Friar Laurence and Friar John are being shown where their entrance will be. The space has many challenges - one of them is the fact that there is no masking or any off stage area, so we decided that the actors playing Montagues will be sitting in full view on the right side and the Capulets on the left -- sitting and watching the play from a blanket spread on the grass just like the audience. It is keeping us all on our toes as we solve various problems associated with performing here, but sometimes when night falls and the street lamps fade on you can already feel the magic of the place.