(photo courtesy: Bear C.A. Sanchez)
OCR: Why did you choose a cemetery to put on the play Romeo and Juliet?
BEAR: Actually, the location choose me. The Fairhaven Memorial Cemetery asked me to do Romeo and Juliet with a modern twist. So, they actually commissioned me because I’ve done a couple of shows for them in the past.
BEAR: We have to depict suicide and murder. And even though at first thought someone would think performing something like that in a cemetery in front of a mausoleum would be very macabre… However, this [Romeo and Juliet] being a lesson learned about love and society’s acceptance of one another’s differences, I believe it’s a perfect location to talk about love and acceptance and grief and a family mourning for love ones and feeling guilty for the fact that their [loved ones are] dead. At some point when we [all] go to a cemetery to see loved ones, we feel guilt. There is a lot of guilt in Romeo and Juliet.
OCR: What are your thoughts on the relationship between Romeo and Juliet?
BEAR: Romeo and Juliet don’t suffer love and loss; they suffer confusion. That’s why they take their own lives. It was their own confusion –based on what they were raised to hate and confused feelings of love and lust they felt as young teenagers.
OCR: How did you decide on the music?
BEAR: We as a cast (we all work together) collaborated on the song choices. Every one had a part and choice on what their character would sing. I have the final say, but everyone had an idea, and we went with about eighty percent of what the cast wanted. These songs are all popular contemporary songs that stretch from Elvis to Ke$ha.
BEAR: We choose each specific song because the lyrics perfectly carry the character’s emotion. Poetry, the entire show is a long three-hour poem. So, when you start adding music to it and people are singing and its melodic [it just works well together].
OCR: What kind of instruments are played?
BEAR: Everything’s acoustic and unplugged, so we have our friar who stands in the center of the show. He acts as our musical narrator, and our Friar (Jim Astle) plays his acoustic guitar.
OCR: Is this your first time directing?
BEAR: This is my first time directing Shakespeare. I’ve been a director for about eight years, and I’ve done many shows. But this is the first time directing something so iconic like Shakespeare, and here I am tearing the text apart, merging characters. I’ve cut some characters. I’ve thrown this into the blender and have made it my own vision. I think people are going to find that they can relate to these characters a lot more.
OCR: When does this show take place?
BEAR: It takes place now. It takes place here, and the songs are current. However, the language stays original to Shakespeare.
OCR: How did you get access to a cemetery for a play!
BEAR: Lisa Cohen was an OCSA parent and had a contact with the cemetery, and three years ago we needed a location to do a show called Spoon River. The show takes place in a cemetery, so she’s like, “Hey Bear, why don’t we try and do it at Fair Haven Memorial?” So, she contacts Cynthia Adair from Fair Haven, and they continued to do shows at the location: Spoon River, The Twilight Zone and now Shakespeare.
Romeo & Juliet plays August 26 and the 27 at Fairhaven Memorial Cemetery 4pm at the Mausoleum. Text 562-616-2986 for more info or find the show on Goldstar