Theater group brings Shakespeare to the people with neighborhood park festival

Madeline Park is a small neighborhood park in West El Paso near UT El Paso that is popular for its playground, basketball court  and old-time gazebo at its center. This fall, a UTEP theater professor was hoping it would also attract a crowd for a free festival with performances from a classic work of a not-so-modern playwright.

“I want it to be a magical introduction of theatre, to people, of Shakespeare to people who fundamentally go, ‘oh my gosh Shakespeare that sucks right?’ and they’re gonna come to this and they’re gonna go ‘that was really fun,'”  said Jay Stratton, an assistant professor of theater and dance at UTEP. Stratton says he took the idea of doing a family-friendly Shakespeare play in Madeline Park to El Paso’s Shakespeare on the Rocks organization, which has been putting on shows since the late 1980s.

‘Romeo and Julieta’ opens door to future bilingual productions in the borderlands

For bilingual, bicultural border cities like El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, the story of two lovers whose miscommunication leads to their tragic death does not sound far fetched. Although Shakespeare’s plays were originally written in English, many, like Romeo and Juliet and Othello, have been performed all over the world in bilingual fashion to attract a broader audience. For this year’s 27th season of the local acting company, “Shakespeare on the Rocks,” Artistic Director Hector Serrano directed for the second time a bilingual version of Romeo and Juliet at the binational Chamizal National Park near downtown El Paso. The bilingual Romeo and Julieta play embodies the mission of The Chamizal, which commemorates the diplomatic negotiation between the United States and Mexico through the Chamizal Treaty. This new treaty, which ended a border dispute over land in 1848 when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo established the Río Grande River as the international boundary, negotiated the borderline because the river had naturally moved leaving Mexico with less land than was originally granted in the 1848 Treaty.


Temas universales como el amor, la amistad, y controversiales como la drogadicción, el SIDA, el homosexualismo, el bisexualismo y el travestismo, son los que los personajes de la obra reflejaron junto con las canciones que se interpretaron acompañadas de la banda en vivo, y que se vivieron con gran intensidad a lo largo de dos horas.