at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest


Directors Note

Romeo and Juliet is known for being one of the greatest tragic love stories of all time, but to me it is much more than that. Romeo and Juliet is not only a story of love but also a story about the Catholic Church during the 1500’s and the tragedy of innocence.

Love is most prominent in the play through the romantic relationship of Romeo and Juliet but their are a significant amount of other types of love within this show. We see a nurturing and wise love from the Nurse and Friar Laurence, we see an unhealthy and at times volatile love from Lord Capulet, we see the love that comes with friendship from Benvolio and Mercutio, but most importantly, in my opinion, we see the love that comes from forgiveness at the end of the play between the Montague’s and the Capulet’s. 

The Catholic Church during the 1500’s was perhaps one of it’s most influential iterations in history and also perhaps one of its most corrupt. The more reading I did on how involved with politics the Catholic Church was, how involved with art the Catholic Church was, how involved with education the Catholic Church was, the clearer it’s corruption during this time period became. As a director, I felt I had an opportunity to add an extra layer to this story by showing the good as well as the bad of the Catholic Church during this time period (1500’s Italy) by using Friar Laurence and Friar John as physical representations of just that. 

Innocence is most notably shown throughout Romeo and Juliet by using the rose colored viewpoint of the youthful characters within the play to hide the darker reality that is clear to the more experienced characters within the play. The dark reality is that Verona is in political turmoil, the families have experienced terrible tragedies, hate and death is everywhere, however, all these youthful characters can seem to talk about is having fun and finding love. It is almost humorous how unaware they are of the darkness that surrounds them. It is the type of innocence I believe that we as adults wish we could have back, and it is ultimately why I believe the youthful characters in this play are so widely adored.

Romeo and Juliet, being my last show with Rogue Productions before I move back home to Oregon to pursue a Masters Degree in teaching theatre, has been a powerful experience and an absolute pleasure to work on. I will dearly miss this cast and crew and their wonderful ability to tell stories and to make me laugh. I hope that you, as a member of the audience, are able to receive at least a fragment of the joy I was able to experience with this cast and crew and their telling of this classic story.

Thank you for going Rogue with us,

Austin Joseph