My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep.
From the moment Romeo and Juliet first meet, they fall passionately in love despite their families’ historic feud. The lovers’ oaths are soon tested by forces beyond their control, and bitter division threatens to eclipse young love. Revisit one of the most breathtaking romances ever written, brought to life on stage with gorgeous poetry and explosive swordplay.
Since 1958, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival has delighted audiences with professional theatre on the CU Boulder campus. Complete your Colorado summer with Shakespeare under the stars in the historic Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre—complimentary seatbacks included.
Attending an outdoor show in the Boulder foothills can be unpredictable. Come prepared to enjoy the adventure by reviewing our weather policy and attire suggestions. Learn more
Performance dates and times:
Thursday, Aug. 8, 7 p.m. $25-$70
Saturday, Aug. 10, 8 p.m. $35-$75
Discounts for groups, youth, seniors, students, active military, CU employees and season ticket orders. Learn more
More about the show:Read more
Two prominent families of Verona, the Montagues and the Capulets, are sworn enemies. When their feud sparks yet another public brawl, Verona’s prince, tired of the ongoing violence, threatens death to anyone who disturbs the peace. Meanwhile, the lovestruck Romeo Montague is infatuated with Rosaline and sneaks into a party hosted by the Capulets, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. Instead, he meets Juliet Capulet. The two fall in love, profess their mutual affection, and make plans to marry the following day. Romeo’s mentor, Friar Laurence, weds the young couple, believing it will resolve the family feud. Shortly after the secret marriage, Romeo encounters Juliet’s cousin, the fiery Tybalt, but refuses to fight him. Romeo’s friend Mercutio, surprised by Romeo’s sudden sympathy for a Capulet, steps into the fight and is fatally stabbed by Tybalt. In an act of revenge, Romeo murders Tybalt. As punishment, the Prince banishes Romeo.
Aided by Juliet’s Nurse, Romeo and Juliet spend their first (and last) night together as a married couple before Romeo departs to live in banishment. Juliet learns that her parents have arranged for her hasty marriage to a family friend, Paris. She seeks counsel from the Friar, who gives her a drug to induce a death-like state. This, he hopes, will buy her time to escape the arranged marriage and reunite with her husband. The Friar promises to send word to Romeo, informing him of the plan. The scheme goes awry when the Friar’s message to Romeo remains undelivered. Romeo learns of Juliet’s “death” and visits her tomb. Believing her truly dead, he swallows poison. Juliet awakens when her drug wears off, sees Romeo dead, and stabs herself. The two families learn, too late, of the love between Romeo and Juliet, and they vow to bury their grievances.
—Amanda Giguere, Dramaturg
We live in a time of great upheaval and violence. We live in a time of widespread discontent, racial profiling, fear- based retaliations against perceived “otherness,” political corruption and deceit, social unrest and distrust, and a malaise of inabilities to take substantial steps forward into positive steps for humanity.
And yet, there is also untold beauty all around us: social, political events and funerals that reflect great hope, honor, and sacrifice; evidence of civil and compassionate discourse; social and personal evolutions that seem to offer light in the face of a history of recent darkness. Cyrano de Bergerac in 2018 showed what we can become at our most inspired as humans in conflict. In contrast, Romeo and Juliet “holds the mirror up to nature” to reveal the depths of bigotry, fear, sexism and prejudice that are possible to be seduced by, as well as how these forces can undermine, derail and overcome even the most pure and innocent influences. The play shoots itself out of a cannon. On an emotional level, nobody pauses to truly reflect, consider or question their choices. It is a world driven by heat, outward appearances, reputation and deep fear—covered over by deep anger, abandoned violence and a desperation of effort even in the attempts to do good. It burns brightly and, therefore, briefly.
The world of the play ends on a hopeful note but not with a tidy bow of reconciliation and a promise to do better. Instead, it ends on a note that is marked by the reality of combustible tinder being present underfoot and therefore of potential future violence. A warning that the worst has not yet even come. A spark will be all that is needed, but perhaps the desire to light the fire has been extinguished. For now, we can live in tentative hope.
—Christopher DuVal, Director
“Violent delights” in Verona and Elizabethan England
Romeo and Juliet is often deemed a love story: two people fall head over heels, defy their families and die tragically. However, focusing exclusively on the couple’s passion overlooks the undeniable landscape of violence at the play’s core, which manifests itself in the Montagues’ and Capulets’ ancient grudge. Although its origin is unknown, the feud dominates every interaction in Verona: the public brawls, Tybalt’s rage, the secret marriage. This is not solely about love; it’s also about the impact of violence on a community.
CU Boulder’s Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence employs a fish tank analogy to frame violence. In a dirty tank, the fish don’t know otherwise, but in a freshly-cleaned tank, new possibilities emerge. In communities of pervasive violence, like Romeo and Juliet’s Verona, the violence is invisible to its inhabitants until they intentionally acknowledge the larger patterns.
In Elizabethan England, Shakespeare would have been no stranger to violence. Street fighting was common, though the monarchy issued proclamations against it (much like the Prince’s threats in Romeo and Juliet). Public executions were frequent, and included beheadings, drawing and quartering, hanging and burning. After an execution, which occured on a “scaffold” (the same term used for a theatre’s stage), the offender’s remains were displayed as a warning to citizens. Bear- baiting was a popular pastime, in which bears and dogs fought to the death. Dueling was technically illegal, but still occurred to settle matters of honor. Shakespeare’s fellow playwright, Ben Jonson, was imprisoned for killing another actor in a duel, and playwright Christopher Marlowe died in a 1593 tavern brawl. This was a culture in which fights broke out in the streets, animals were killed for entertainment, and London was lined with traitors’ heads.
The Friar warns, “These violent delights have violent ends,” and his prediction is eerily accurate. Scholar R. A. Foakes, in Shakespeare and Violence, argues that Shakespeare was “deeply interested in the fundamental problem of coping with human violence,” and that Romeo and Juliet “speaks across the centuries to the recurrent feuding that is all too common in the present day.” In the 2019-20 school year, CSF’s Shakespeare & Violence Prevention Program will tour Romeo and Juliet to Colorado schools in the hopes of unpacking the patterns of contemporary violence. Although every culture embodies violence its own forms (bear-baiting, public executions, violent video games or otherwise), the question remains: How do we cope with violence in our time?
—Amanda Giguere, Dramaturg
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Director and Fight Choreographer
Abram/Friar John/First Watch
Costume Shop Manager
Adam M. Dill
Assistant Stage Manager
Stacy R. Norwood*
Voice and Text Coach
Plan your visit
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