07-10-13-romeo-and-juliet.gifSweet Tea Shakespeare offers theatrical fun for audiences this summer with the classic tragic romance, Romeo and Juliet. Although the theater group is only in its second year of operation, it has garnered a healthy following that continues to grow. Sweet Tea Shakespeare is a collaborative effort between the Fayetteville State University Foundation, the FSU Fine Arts Series, the Gilbert Theater and the Cape Fear Botanical Garden.

Sweet-tea refreshments coupled with the firefly-laden nights at the botanical garden bring an entertaining, whimsical performance like no other. Free watermelon, sweet tea and lemonade will be plentiful at play performances.

William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has shaped the world of literature since it was first written in the 16th century. The story revolves around two star-crossed lovers who find themselves trapped between their feuding families. What solution do the two lovers come to in order to conquer life’s difficulties? Difficult decisions, naïve love and endangerment for the name of love run rampant throughout the story. Shakespeare’s style of writing also injects humor into the play in order to raise suspense.

“He wrote most of his plays for outdoor environments,” Jeremy Fiebig said, director of Romeo and Juliet and the brainstorm behind Sweet Tea Shakespeare. “It allows us to perform the play in its original setting.”

The botanical garden offers the perfect environment for these kinds of plays, allowing guests to “sit underneath the stars” and enjoy the performance for how it’s meant to be viewed.

Sweet Tea Shakespeare practices cross-gender casting, meaning gender characters will oftentimes be played by the opposite sex. Sweet Tea Shakespeare is also different by its means of theatrical expression.

“We started rehearsals in March and we rehearsed it for a couple of weeks without directors,” Fiebig said. “The cast put it together themselves then a couple of weeks later they presented it to the directors.”

Allowing the cast to formulate its own interpretation of the play allows more artistic freedom to the cast and gives them the opportunity to create scenes in their own way.

“The thing that draws me to Romeo and Juliet is the great language of the play,” Fiebig said. “There’s a lot of other beautiful language that resonates even today. After you get past the ‘Shakespeare’ barrier it really washes over you.”

Experiencing the English language as it was centuries ago creates an authentic experience that guarantees to entertain anyone who is a fan of English history.

The performances will run July 17-21 by the Cypress Pond at the Cape Fear Botanical Gardens. The July 20 performance is an indoor matinee. Tickets include admission to the garden and cost $10 for garden members, $12 for non-members, $7.50 for students, $5 for children between the ages of 6 and 12, free for children 5 and younger and $5 for FSU students. Tickets can be purchased on site or reserved by calling 672-1724.

Photo: Romeo and Juliet brings magic to the Cape Fear Botanical Garden.

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