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'Romeo and Juliet' set for Feb. 14 at Shakespeare Festival

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Love is in the air! This Valentine’s Day, the American Shakespeare Center will present "Romeo and Juliet" in the third annual Georgetown Shakespeare Festival.

Two performances of the beloved tale of “star-cross’d lovers” are scheduled at the historic Winyah Auditorium by the widely acclaimed troupe of professional actors: an evening show on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. and a matinee for area students at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15. The Georgetown Shakespeare Festival is organized by The Georgetown School of Arts and Sciences and seeks to bring high-quality live theater to the community.

“We are bringing an amazing cultural experience right to our downtown,” said Head of School Dr. Gary Gates. “Thanks to the generosity of our partners among area businesses, the community won’t have to travel to Charleston, Atlanta or New York to enjoy a world-class performance.”

Founded in 1988, the American Shakespeare Center performs Shakespeare’s plays in the original stage conditions of his day. These conditions include universal lighting (stage and seating area are both lit), doubling (one actor playing multiple roles), interaction with spectators (including seating spectators on the stage) and cross-gender casting. The ASC’s 11-member traveling troupe is will perform in about 25 states this year; Georgetown will host the group's only performance of "Romeo and Juliet" in South Carolina.

In addition to offering the plays each year, The Georgetown Shakespeare Festival invites experts on the Bard to come speak about his works at Open Forum, the outside speaker series of The Georgetown School. This year, the Festival will welcome Dr. Jonathan Sircy of Charleston Southern University, whose talk “The Kids Are Alright: Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare and Youth Culture” will take place at the Winyah Auditorium on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 11 a.m. The public is invited, and admission is free.

“Let’s kill all the lawyers,” a character from Henry VI famously says, however, all lawyers are welcome to “Legal Lessons from Shakespeare,” a Continuing Legal Education seminar set for Tuesday, Feb. 14. The Shakespeare-themed CLE is a new component of the Georgetown Shakespeare Festival this year. For a $125 registration fee, lawyers can earn three credit hours of CLE in the areas of ethics, mental health, and substance abuse.

Leigh Powers Boan, newly elected probate judge, will speak at the kick-off luncheon, then participants will hear presentations on “The Epidemic of Lawyers and an Invitation to Well-Being” by Richard Hricik and “Legal Ethics as Portrayed in Shakespearean Plays” by Richard Willis. Willis’ talk will be presented by local attorney Elizabeth Attias.

The Georgetown Shakespeare Festival has already welcomed the ASC for "Much Ado About Nothing" (2015) and "Julius Caesar" and "Henry V" (2016). Along with its performances, the ASC provides workshops on Elizabethan theater to students, festival sponsors and guests. Past workshop topics have included stage fighting, voice registers, costume design and early special effects. Topics for the 2017 workshops are textual variations in different early editions of "Romeo and Juliet" and music in Shakespeare.

About 250 area students and teachers will join the students and faculty of The Georgetown School for the matinee performance of "Romeo and Juliet" on Feb. 15.

“As an English teacher, I know this is an amazing opportunity to see Shakespeare as he was meant to be seen,” said Festival organizer and TGS teacher Dr. Wade Razzi.

Shannon Lewis, English teacher at Myrtle Beach Middle School, agrees.

“We are bringing our Honors students to see this performance,” she said. “Romeo and Juliet will come to life for them and they will be able to compare stage and film versions.”

Students at The Georgetown School are also anticipating the ASC’s return to the Winyah Auditorium stage because it is one of the school's most important annual events, Gates said.

English I students are busy reading "Romeo and Juliet," too.

“We memorized Juliet’s soliloquy and recited it in class,” said TGS English teacher Lane Crosby. “Every day we act out scenes and have a great time with the language.”

Fifth-graders also were excited to get involved, so they are reading a simplified version of the play. In addition, they are hosting a Capulet Masquerade Ball for the whole TGS middle school. In conjunction with the Art Department, students are designing invitations and constructing papier-mâché masks for the ball, which will be followed by a banquet where students will eat Elizabethan food and talk to each other in Shakespearian terms.

Tickets, which are $35 each, for the Feb. 14 performance of "Romeo and Juliet" can be purchased online by visiting www.georgetownshakespearefestival.org or purchased directly from the school by calling the school at 843-520-4359. Registration for the Continuing Legal Education seminar, which is $125, can be done by visiting georgetownshakespearefestial.org and downloading the form. The Georgetown School is a 401(c)(3) and welcomes sponsors for its Georgetown Shakespeare Festival.

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