June 24, 2005

Romeo and Julieta crossing the border

Old Globe presents bi-national, trilingual production of the classic play

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

Old Globe director Peter Webster believes theater should be a reflection of the world it wants to reach.

And this world, he said, is very diverse.

That’s the reason why he chose to direct the Romeo y Julieta Project, a trilingual, bi-national version of the William Shakespeare classic, where students and actors from San Diego and Tijuana will come together to create a unique vision.

The performance will be trilingual (English, Spanish, and Mixteco, an Indigenous language from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, but spoken by thousands of immigrants in North San Diego County and Tijuana.

It will be bi-national, because students and actors from both sides of the border will participate. Also, performances will take place in San Diego and in Tijuana.

Students from the Globe’s Romeo y Julieta Bi-National Project performed folk dances throughout the day as part of the Globe’s 70th Anniversary Open House festivities on June 18. The students, from Tijuana’s Preparatoria Federal Lázaro Cárdenas, will join with San Diego students this summer to present several bi-lingual productions of Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Julieta in both San Diego and Tijuana, as part of the Globe’s new educational outreach program designed to foster a creative cultural exchange for students on both sides of the border. Photo by Sandy Huffaker.

Webster’s goal is to create projects that embrace a wide array of cultural, social, and ethnic points of view. His other credits include an Afro-Centric A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

And the Romeo y Julieta Project is as diverse as theatre can get.

“It reflects the world we live in, especially this region. We don’t live in a world of just one color, or just one language,” said Webster at a recent meeting at Preparatoria Lázaro Cárdenas in Tijuana, the high school where most of the Mexican students participating come from.

“I want to work with the community. I want young people to share their energy with the community,” he added.

This project is a great opportunity to tear down the border and create unity between the two cities, Webster said.

“We can destroy those walls that separate us through theatre,” he said.

The Romeo y Julieta Project, which has a cast of 60, is sponsored by the Old Globe’s Education Department and Centro Cultural Tijuana.

“The Romeo y Julieta Project is an extremely exciting undertaking. We’re thrilled to be working with the Tijuana Cultural Center on this important bi-national educational program,” said Louis G. Spisto, Executive Director of the Old Globe Theatre.

Webster said that the project will reach communities with people that have never attended a play, such as Colonia Obrera in Tijuana.

“The Old Globe has taken the lead by bringing its theatre expertise and professionalism to areas in our region that are underserved by major arts organizations. This ideal mix of the arts and education has created a sense of community in this vast region, and underscores the importance of the arts in our everyday lives”, Webster said.

Approximately 90 minutes in length, the production will be presented at two sites in San Diego and Chula Vista, and three sites in Tijuana and will be free to the public.

Miguel Angel Ruiz, a student at Prepa Lázaro Cárdenas, will be playing Romeo in the Tijuana presentations.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this important and historical project,” said the 16-year old actor. “This is an opportunity I’m not going to let go.”

Sajid Rivas Ochoa, who will be playing Mercurio in Tijuana, needs to learn a few phrases in Mixteco, a language that’s strange to him.

“I love that the play is so diverse, that I will perform in another language than my own.”

Participating schools in the Romeo & Julieta Project include Preparatoria Federal Lázaro Cárdenas (Tijuana, Mexico); Montgomery High School (Chula Vista); Sweetwater High School (National City); Bonita Vista High School (Chula Vista); Castle Park High School (Chula Vista); Otay Ranch High School (Chula Vista); High Tech High (San Diego); San Diego High School (San Diego); and The Preuss School (La Jolla). Production support is has been donated by Kellogg Elementary School of the Chula Vista City School District (rehearsal space) and Escuela Primaria Bilingue José Vasconcelos, Tijuana (translation services, Spanish to Mixteco).

The project is made possible in part by a grant from the City of Chula Vista’s Office of Cultural Arts.

For more information about The Romero y Julieta Project, contact The Old Globe Education Department at (619) 238-0043, Ext. 2144.

Performance Schedule:
Friday, July 22 at 8:00pm: Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT), Tijuana
Saturday, July 23 at 5:00pm: Colonia Obrera, Tercera Sección, Tijuana
Sunday, July 24 at 3:00pm: Parque Teniente Guerrero, Tijuana
Friday, July 29 at 8:00pm: Casa del Prado, Balboa Park, San Diego
Saturday, July 30 at 8:00pm: Memorial Park, Chula Vista

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