Town square in downtown Grand Forks will see the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet unfold Tuesday night as the North Dakota Shakespeare Company presents the classic play.
Founded through a grant from the UND College of Arts and Sciences, the professional company specializes in classical theater. Stephanie Murray, the company's producing artistic director and UND theater teacher, said Shakespeare was chosen as the company's focus because of a lack of classical theater in town.
"In Grand Forks we do have a decent bit of theatre already. The Empire produces a lot of contemporary plays and musical theater, and the Firehall is pretty similar. It seemed like the hole that was existing was classical theater."
Romeo and Juliet was selected as the play before the company received funding or casted actors. According to Murray, a driving factor behind the choice was the divisive political climate in the country.
"Part of the reason we chose this play right now is because it's a play about two houses divided and about how everything kind of falls apart because they're so divided. I think people need a reminder that when we work together things end up more happily." said Murray.
While she says the downtown location will provide challenges, such as the noises of traffic, the venue was chosen for its consistency with the company's mission of bringing theater to the community regardless of economic status. And the venue adds to the experience for actors and audience members alike.
"I love the idea of open air Shakespeare because that's how it was in Shakespeare's day and age. The Globe Theater was an open air venue, and I feel like there's just something really cool about nature, the audience and the actors all kind of being one." said Murray.
Romeo and Juliet will run at 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, with a pre-show beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Admission is free, and guests are asked to bring their own blankets and chairs.