Former Lane Community College faculty member, Judith “Sparky” Roberts, is directing a production of “Romeo and Juliet” at the Wildish Community Theater in Springfield Jan. 27 – 29. Roberts was a faculty member at Lane for over 30 years. As a part-time faculty member, Roberts has been able to help students further their career by introducing them directly to the professional world of theater.
Fools Haven, the resident theater company at the Wildish, is renting a 3/4 replica of the original Elizabethan Globe Theater from the college. The set was originally constructed for Lane during Roberts’ tenure. This will be the first time the set has been used outside of the LCC theaters.
Many of the cast are former students at Lane, including Cloud Pemble, playing Romeo, who attended Lane from 1994 to 1997.
“You completely lose that thing of teacher and student and go out into the real world, or unreal world, but the world of real theater, and you’re equals and able to work together,” Roberts said. “So that was always an aspect of teaching at Lane that I really loved was getting out there in the theatrical world with my former students.”
While striving to keep the production and acting authentic, the company is incorporating film elements, musical accompaniment from four different centuries, and dance.
“Our production has a passionate duet for Romeo and Juliet to be able to nonverbally express their love for each other,” Nicole Trobaugh, playing Juliet, said.
The lead actors agree that the cast’s on-stage dynamic empowers the performance, especially between the lead roles.
“The chemistry that Nicole and I have has been really, really great,” Pemble said.
The cast includes two former Oregon Shakespeare Festival actors, Joe Cronin, playing Friar Laurence, and Maya Thomas, playing Nurse.
The company’s aim is to pay homage to the original words and to Shakespeare himself while translating his still-relatable themes in the present day.
“There’s a lot of emphasis put upon the proper pronunciation of words and being clear and making our voices become instruments in the process, but with all of that precision, and clarity, also balancing that with having it be something relatable, something that can be understood by a modern audience,” Pemble said.
“The characters seem relevant still today like you could meet them, or you already know them, or they were in the news, or they are your family. Some of his plays that have royalty are really family dramas. They seem to still be walking around among us. He never loses his timeliness,” Roberts said.
The company has received two grants from the Lane County Cultural Coalition, together with the Oregon Cultural Trust, awarding subsidized tickets for students and seniors. These tickets are $5 (regularly $15), while supplies last. General tickets are on sale for $22.