Clashing Ideals: Staging ‘Romeo and Juliet’ at Elizabethtown College

A Shakespearean story performed in an apocalyptic setting would seem as sweet…or would it?

Elizabethtown College’s production of “Romeo and Juliet” features all of the elements one would expect from the classic tale ⁠– star-crossed lovers, epic combat, and a cautionary tale for the ages. The text remains unchanged, but many factors set it apart from the typical college Shakespeare production, including its devastated future world setting.

Notably, the production features a gender-blind cast, a convention often adopted by contemporary theaters presenting Shakespeare. This comes as a result of the college’s population being “roughly sixty percent to two-thirds female”, according to director Dr. Michael Swanson, making it a necessity for certain male roles to be played by females, else the production staff be faced with a lack of actors.

“You could say not having enough men would be a lemon,” said Swanson. “We decided, let’s make lemonade out of that and make the best we can of it. And it’s really kind of fascinating to see the classic Romeo and Juliet scenes with two women.”

This non-traditional casting gives the actors room to experiment with their characters, and has allowed them to bring different interpretations to the table than in traditionally gendered casting. Grace Gibson, a senior English Literature major playing Romeo, sees it as an opportunity to reinterpret her character’s head-over-heels moments as something deeper than simply teenage love.

“Initially I didn’t know whether I was going to be playing Romeo as male and just being a woman playing the male role, or if I could play a female Romeo,” Gibson said. “I got my wish, I get to play female Romeo…and I think that’s just really amazing that I get to portray a queer character in a story that’s very traditional and old, and usually very much heterosexual. And it…adds things to the way I’m playing my character, because I’m playing a sixteen year old queer girl, who is just realizing that she is allowed to like other girls, and that there are other girls who will reciprocate, and so…that is really part of the idolatry of Juliet, and the fact that she is so head over heels immediately.”

Aside from the upside of gender-blind casting, the show also offers students other perks – like the chance to unwind and have fun.

“We actually went around…at our first rehearsal [and] had to say our favorite thing about theater,” said Gibson, “And everyone had these deep reasons like, ‘It helps me forget all of my own struggles,’ and ‘I get to be someone I’m not and find refuge from myself’, and I’m like…not so deep guys! It’s just for fun!”

Kelty Tarvin, a history education major playing Paris, shares similar views on participating in the show.

“Theater is just very fun because you can kind of…go onto stage, be someone who you’re absolutely not, and people will watch you and applaud. And it’s kind of fun.”

Official poster for Elizabethtown Theatre’s production of “Romeo & Juliet”

However, the excitement of an experimental ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is slightly dampened by the knowledge that there may be no more shows performed at the college after this year.

It was announced over the summer that Elizabethtown would be cutting the theater major and minor from its list of educational offerings, citing a lack of interest as the reason for the decision. According to the school, no freshmen declared a theater major during the 2018-2019 school year, having dwindled to nothing from healthy numbers in the past. This decision also means that two full-time theatre professors and two adjunct staff members will lose their jobs at the end of the academic year.

Students of the college, both those participating in “Romeo and Juliet” and otherwise, have expressed concerns over the school’s decision. Many cited the fact that the importance of department goes far beyond simply the education and degrees provided by the theater major and minor.

“It makes me very sad and angry,” said Gibson, “Because these are people…who trained for this…and have built up a community through repeated productions with all these different people, and now they’re basically told that their jobs and what they do at the college isn’t important enough to keep them here. And that just is really terrible, and it’s not what I see based on the work they do. They do fantastic, life-changing work, and the college is just completely devaluing that.”

Students like Tarvin have also lost not only their creative outlet, but their jobs as well.

“It makes me sad,” said Tarvin, “Because all of the people involved with the department are really kind people and I’ve gotten to know them very well over the past year that I’ve been involved with the theater, and personally, obviously, I lost my hobby and my job, and they lost their job[s] too, and it’s kind of sad.”

Many students who participate in the department’s shows are not theater majors, but simply engage with the art because it’s enjoyable for them, and many have expressed that it is not simply the major that is an important part of the campus community.

“One of the reasons I think the administration is missing [in choosing to cut the department],” said Swanson, “Is that we have lots of people in our theater productions who are not theater majors or minors, but people who simply love the art and what it does for them and what it can do for an audience.”

According to Swanson, there are currently no plans in place to continue producing shows at the college once the department is officially eliminated, so students are making the best they can of what may be their final college theater show, and hope that audiences will enjoy the production they’ve worked hard to put on. 

‘Romeo and Juliet’ also stars Delphi Aubrey as Juliet, Logan Crosby as Benvolio/Friar Laurence, and Gavin O’Brien as Mercutio. It runs October 31–November 2nd and November 7–8 at 8 p.m., and November 10 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Tempest Theatre box office or by emailing boxoffice@etown.edu.

Seasons Changing

View The Video Here

As months go by, people prepare for the changing of seasons.

Some people get ready for the change of seasons by playing some video games to calm their nerves.

Some people use there clothing as a means to get ready for the change be either rolling up sleeves or by just bundling up.

When the seasons change, Edgar decides to put other before himself.

“My Preparation is to do what I did during the summer, to appreciate the cold as well as the hot, and to appreciate these people who are my neighbors, my family, my friends, and the stranger.”

There’s another group of people that don’t prepare for the season change and just go with the weather gives them.

“Grab a sweater if i need a sweater, or a jacket if I need a jacket, but I don’t do the whole putting away summer stuff or winter stuff, so yea.”

When you notice the leave and the grass change a nice orange or yellow color, you know the seasons are about to change.

Whatever you choose to prepare for your seasons it totally up to you. Whether preparing your clothing for the hot or cold weather, or even gaming on your mobile device or a console. Whatever you choose to do.

At Elizabethtown College, I’m Brandon Wolf, for WeTown {Dot} Org.

Opportunities at Elizabethtown College

Elizabethtown College offers plenty of opportunities on campus for students interested in Communications.

“One of the main things that I am doing this semester is my radio show here every Thursday from 2 to 4” said Will Paterson a Junior Mass Communications student. “I wasn’t entirely sure if radio was up my alley but I thought it would be a branch and an opportunity to broaden my communications experience. So I came in and I have been doing this for about 4 weeks  and I gotta tell you, this is the highlight of my week at some points.”

Communication students interested in Public Relations can take advantage of JayFirm. Those with a passion for production can join ECTV, the school’s student run TV station or host their own radio show with WWEC, the college’s student operated radio station.

“I also know there is a bunch of other opportunities for people such as the TV station, the newspaper, the PR department which are definitely great opportunities for anybody who wants to learn more about the specific job fields such as TV, such as the newspaper, PR firms, things like that” says David Varner, a Junior Communications Student.

Elizabethtown College has many jobs and internships that students can take advantage of.

Will Paterson had this to say about working on campus.

“The opportunities are always there and the students always have the chance to take advantage of them. They also offer a diverse range of things to do.” he said. “For example I am also writing op-ed pieces for the Etownian and their sports, I am working for the athletic department doing communications and graphic design which I could not have learnt without the knowledge I have gotten from the communications staff and the teachers here.” Will continues.

From Elizabethtown, James Vernon, wetown.org

Radio Cameras Continue To Be Unplugged

To watch the video, click this link.

 

Mischief arising inside the radio station at Elizabethtown College. The station’s cameras, installed earlier this year, keep mysteriously getting unplugged. The cameras hook up to a device in the station that can be used for podcasting. However these cameras do not monitor behavior inside the studio. Station manager Meghan Kenney thinks the student is concerned about privacy.

 

“The goal here is not to watch them,” said Meghan Kenney, station manager for WWEC. “I understand that that’s creepy; I understand that’s weird. We have a TV that actually will show the feed from all the cameras, but it’s all in real time; it’s not recording. I’ve told people they’re allowed to turn it off. I’ve shown people where the remote is. I’ve told them how they don’t have to look at themselves if that’s what’s bothering them.”

 

We contacted campus security for further comment on the college’s surveillance policies but they did not respond. However we do know that the campus has security cameras. The college does monitor the campus but no one was willing to go on camera and explain how.

 

Kenney told us a bit more about the college’s cameras.

 

“They have cameras at every entrance and exit,” she said. “They have them at certain spots of interest, so like at the communications department for example. There’s a camera right outside, so if you’re trying to steal something from the radio station we’ll likely catch you out there.”

 

Theft is not a concern for the radio station at the moment since nothing has been stolen. However the continued unplugging of the cameras just creates more work for everyone at the radio station.

 

The college’s surveillance policies exist purely to keep students safe. The only worry anyone in the radio station should have is whether or not they have a bad taste in music. Ray Cotolo reporting for Wetown.org.

 

 

ESPN Radio’s 3rd Annual Brew-chanan Fest

By: Meghan Kenney (not Emma Pile)

View the video HERE

For the past three years, ESPN Radio has held Brew-chanan Fest on the first Saturday of October in Buchanan Park in Lancaster City. This year, Brew-chanan had over 50 different breweries, vineyards, meaderies, and cider houses present at the fest, each bringing plenty of samples for the over 1400 attendees.

Debbie Aszmus, from ESPN Promotions, said of the fest, “This is the 3rd annual Brew-chanan Fest at Buchanan Park to benefit Angels Among Us Animal Sanctuary an that is to help older dogs that need rescued and adopted”.

Angels Among Us had a tent at Brew-chanan where they had some of their senior dogs who are up for adoption. There were also pretzel necklaces available by donation, since pretzels are known to be a great companion to the brews!

There was more than just beer, wine, mead, and cider at Brew-chanan. There were some other vendors such as Whimsical Wonders by Kris. They sold items made out of old bottles, bottle caps, wine corks, and more.

Many attendees played games, such as corn hole and giant beer pong, while others enjoyed listening to music from The Mad Hatters, a local band that covered songs that the whole crowd could sing along to.

There was also a Homebrew Competition at Brew-chanan Fest where local people were chosen to bring their homemade beers in and attendees could vote on which beer was their favorite. There were seven homebrewed beers this year with Blueberry Passionfruit Smoothie coming in first place.

Vince Augello, ESPN Radio Promotions Captain, said of the fest, “So a lot goes into planning Brew-chanan Fest. We work for months to get all of the vendors lined up and all of the food vendors. A lot goes into it but it definitely pays off with the great event that we’re having today”.

Those at ESPN Radio are already hard at work planning the 2020 Brew-chanan Fest which will be held on October 3 of next year.

In Buchanan Park, Meghan Kenney, wetown.org.

 

Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania Citizen Journalism