[Above production photograph with Blake Currie (Romeo) and Lauren Gunn (Juliet)]
Tennessee Shakespeare Company Performs the Country’s First Modern Pandemic Production of Romeo and Juliet
Re-scheduled Outdoors at Wiseacre Brewery for November 14
Free Shakespeare Shout-Out Series
Sponsored by Evans/Petree, P.C. and Campbell Clinic
MEMPHIS, Tenn., November 5, 2020 – Tennessee Shakespeare Company has re-scheduled its free, outdoor performance of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet at Wiseacre Brewery for Saturday, November 14 at 2:00 pm. Wiseacre Brewery is located at 2783 Broad Avenue in Memphis.
Part of TSC’s fourth annual Free Shakespeare Shout-Out Series, the production is the country’s first modern pandemic version of Romeo and Juliet. The Shout-Out Series is generously sponsored by Evans/Petree, P.C. and Campbell Clinic.
The originally-scheduled performance, which was part of the Series’ October tour throughout Shelby County, was previously cancelled due to rain.
The November 14 performance is free and open to the public while limited, socially-distanced seating is available. No tickets or reservations are required. First come/first seated.
Directed by Stephanie Shine, this 90-minute production runs without intermission. It previously performed for hundreds of patrons outdoors at Shelby Farms Park, Beale Street Landing, Collierville Town Square, Overton Square, Germantown Library, Singleton Community Center in Bartlett, International Harvester’s Managerial Park in Lakeland.
Seating at Wiseacre Brewery is reduced from its maximum capacity. Face coverings must be worn.
Patrons must answer basic health screening questions and provide contact information prior to theatre entry. Patrons will be required to restrict gatherings to no more than six people, and social distancing will be observed to help ensure health safety.
Romeo and Juliet features a diverse cast of nine actors led by TSC veterans Blake Currie (Romeo) and Lauren Gunn (Juliet). The company also includes Michael Khanlarian (Capulet), Carmen-maria Mandley (Nurse/Prince), John Ross Graham (Tybalt), Tristin Hicks (Mercutio/Montague), Jasmine Robertson (Sampson/Friar Lawrence), Simmery Branch (Lady Capulet), and Ural Grant (Benvolio/Paris).
The production is set in modern-day Memphis with Shakespeare’s characters facing the constant challenge of protecting their health, and that of others, during a plague pandemic. Actors will wear multiple forms of face coverings and have protective gear and hand sanitizer on stage as part of Shakespeare’s own pandemic landscape which he refers to in his text. How can his star-cross’d lovers overcome familial hatred, discrimination, social distancing, face masks, and a record-setting mortality rate to find healing for their community?
“Setting Romeo and Juliet in our current pandemic adds a barrier to human relationships that we are all experiencing here now,” says Shine. “The need to protect each other and ourselves has come to the forefront, both for the actors and the characters they play. Life as we know it is now on stage, making this telling of this particular 400-year-old play as immediate as it was when Shakespeare wrote it. Falling in love has never been more dangerous.”
In addition to director Stephanie Shine, the production team includes Jeremy Fisher (scenic design), Jen Gillette (costume design), Tyler J. Vernon (fight choreographer), and Alison Letsos (stage manager). For more information, please call the TSC Box Office at (901) 759-0604 Monday-Friday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Simmery Branch (Abram/Lady Capulet/Paris’ Page) TSC: The Romeo and Juliet Project. University of Memphis: Secret in the Wings, Abraham and Isaac, The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls, Three Sisters,and Intimate Apparel. Other Credits: To Kill a Mockingbird, Elephant’s Graveyard, American Idiot, A Raisin in the Sun. Education: University of Memphis (B.F.A. in Theatre Performance).
Blake Hamilton Currie (Romeo) TSC: As You Like It, Macbeth, The Comedy of Errors, Henry V. Other Credits: Struggle for Freedom, The Parchman Hour, Servant of Two Masters, Secret in the Wings, Measure for Measure, and Anon(ymous). Blake is a graduate of the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance program with a B.F.A. in Performance.
Jeremy Allen Fisher (Scenic Designer) TSC: Macbeth, As You Like It, Waiting for Godot, Much Ado About Nothing, To Kill a Mockingbird, All’s Well That Ends Well, Twelfth Night, Richard III, The Taming of the Shrew, Unto the Breach, It’s a Wonderful Life, Hamlet. A graduate of Oklahoma City University, Jeremy has worked with Theatre Memphis, Opera Memphis, Ballet Memphis, Broad Avenue Arts, Santa Fe Opera, Busch Gardens, and Northern Oklahoma College. Some of his other credits include lighting Memphis’ Broad Avenue Water Tower and receiving the TAC Individual Artist Award as well as 12 Ostrander Award nominations with four wins for his lighting designs between 2012-2017.
Jen Gillette (Costume Designer) Design credits: Digging Up Dessa and Bud, Not Buddy at the Kennedy Center; Olney National Players Tours 71 and 72; Menagerie at the Washington Ballet; Trojan Women, Don Juan, and Antigonick at Taffety Punk; Gypsy and Into the Woods at McLeod Summer Playhouse; Cymbeline at New Orleans Shakespeare Festival; Crimes of the Heart at Triad Stage; Puccini Plus for the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music; Or, Anything Goes, and Intimate Apparel for University of Memphis. Installation artist credits: Night Garden at Columbus Museum of Art; Town + Country Kitchen Document for Domestic Integrities at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Jen holds an M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and is Assistant Professor of Costume Design at
the University of Memphis.
John Ross Graham (Tybalt/Peter/Brother John/Captain of the Watch) TSC: The Romeo and Juliet Project. Hattiloo Theatre: Jelly’s Last Jam. University of Memphis: She Kills Monsters, Rx, Memphis Silhouettes, Memphis Murder Project, Shaming Jane Doe. John Ross is a writer, and his works have been performed across Memphis. Education: University of Memphis (B.A. in Creative Writing and Theatre Arts).
Ural Grant (Benvolio/Paris) TSC: The Romeo and Juliet Project. Passage Theatre: Caged. Hattiloo Theatre: Jelly’s Last Jam. Ural is an award-winning theater artist and educator with a special emphasis on theater for young audiences. He has toured across the tri-state area in numerous shows geared towards
Lauren Gunn (Juliet) TSC: Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. Southern Arena Theatre: Boeing Boeing, I Hate Hamlet. New Stage Theatre: Crimes of the Heart, A Christmas Carol, Cat in the Hat. Fish Tale Group Theatre: Voice of Freedom Summer. University of Southern Mississippi: Much Ado About Nothing, Night of the Iguana, Trojan Barbie, Women of Lockerbie. Unframed: Constellations, Gruesome Playground Injuries. Lauren is new to Memphis and is originally from Jackson, MS. Education: University of Southern Mississippi (M.F.A. in Acting).
Tristin R. Hicks (Montague/Mercutio/Watchman) TSC: The Romeo and Juliet Project. University of Memphis: Hamlet: Fall of The Sparrow, Inherit the Wind, Always Something More, She Kills Monsters. Other Credits: Hattiloo Theatre’s The Parchman Hour, Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts’ What I Want to Say But Never Will. Tristin is an Actor and Dramaturg who is in his fourth year of undergraduate studies at the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre and Dance with plans to graduate in the Spring with a B.F.A. in Theatre.
Michael Khanlarian (Lord Capulet) TSC: Julius Caesar, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Macbeth, As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing, To Kill a Mockingbird, Henry V, All’s Well That Ends Well, Twelfth Night, Othello, As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet. Education: University of Memphis. Michael is a founding member of TSC.
Alison Letsos (Stage Manager) TSC: Romeo and Juliet Project, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Also: Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Creede Repertory Theatre, Tulsa Ballet, Vail Dance Festival, and Oklahoma City Ballet. Alison received her B.F.A. in Theatre Design and Production with an emphasis in Stage and Production Management from Oklahoma City University.
Carmen-maria Mandley (Nurse/Prince/Balthazar) TSC directing credits include Romeo and
Juliet, Twelfth Night, and The Tempest. TSC acting credits include Shake(s), Rattle and
Roll (ensemble), Two Gentlemen of Verona (Speed/Lucetta), As You Like It (Audrey), and Speak What We Feel: Shakespeare’s Radical Response to a Radical Time (ensemble). Prior to joining TSC, Carmen worked for Orlando Shakespeare (FL), Shakespeare & Company (MA), Advice to the Players (NH), Theatre at Hubbard Hall (NY), WE Players (CA), Portland Stage (ME), Burning Coal Theatre (NC), Theater at Monmouth (ME), and Theatre Ensemble of Color (ME). She is the founding Artistic Director of Bare Theatre and the Nickel Shakespeare Girls in Raleigh, NC, as well as Bare Portland Theatre in Maine. Carmen attended National-Louis University in Chicago and continued her training at Shakespeare & Company and at the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre.
Jasmine Robertson (Sampson/Friar Lawrence ) Credits include The Three Sisters (Olga), Intimate Apparel (Mrs. Dickson), The Spitfire Grill (Effy), Servant of Two Masters (Smeraldina), She Kills Monsters (Vera), The Curious Savage (Ethel), Lucky Stiff (Rita), Inherit the Wind, and Anon(ymous).
Stephanie Shine+ (Director) TSC directorial credits include Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Henry V, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar, It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Southern Yuletide, Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits, Shake(s), Rattle, and Roll, Shakespeare Said It, Lend Me Thy Sword, 9 productions of Romeo and Juliet, and countless literary salons. On stage at TSC, she played the Abbess in The Comedy of Errors, Countess in All’s Well That Ends Well, the female roles in Unto the Breach, and Gertrude in Hamlet. Prior to joining TSC, she was Artistic Director of Seattle Shakespeare Company, a
position she enjoyed for 13 years. Other directorial credits include As You Like It for Houston Shakespeare Festival, The Taming of the Shrew and The Comedy of Errors for Colorado Shakespeare Festival, the award-winning one-woman internationally-touring Marilyn Monroe Biopic, Marilyn: Forever Blonde, and several new works for Seattle’s Book-It Repertory Theatre. Her production of I am of Ireland (which she also conceived and adapted) opened Book-It’s 25th Anniversary Season in 2014. As an actor, she has performed with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, NYC’s Theatre for a New Audience, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Alley Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, ACT, The Empty Space, and Seattle Children’s Theatre, among others. Roles include Juliet, Rosalind, Lady Macbeth,
Beatrice, Regan, Feste, Kate, Bianca, Dionyza, the Princess of France, Hero, Perdita, and the Chorus in Henry V. The Germantown Arts Alliance honored her with its 2016 Distinguished Arts and Humanities Medal for Performing Arts. Graduate of the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts; B.F.A in Acting from the University of Washington’s Professional Actor Training Program; M.F.A. in Directing from the University of Memphis.
Tyler J. Vernon (Fight Choreographer) TSC: Pericles: Prince of Tyre, Miss Bennet: Christmas at
Pemberley, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Twelfth Night, Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Romeo and Juliet Project. Other credits: 1776, The Servant of Two Masters, The Wild Party, Nine. Tyler is an active member of the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD), with certifications in various weapon disciplines. Education: University of Memphis (B.F.A. in Musical Theatre Performance).
- member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Inc., an independent national labor union.
Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s 13 th Performance Season Continues
From Dublin to the Sea: John M. Synge
Salon curated by Stephanie Shine
in honor of Pat and Ernest Kelly
Sunday, November 8 at 3:00 pm
A Little, Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving: Louisa May Alcott
Salon curated by Stephanie Shine
Sunday, November 22 at 3:00 pm
A Christmas Carol: Charles Dickens’ Dramatic Premier Reading in Boston
Salon curated and read by Dan McCleary
The Hunting Heart: Carson McCullers
Salon curated by Stephanie Shine
Sunday, January 24, 2021 at 3:00 pm
Season 13 Sponsors and Partners
TSC’s generous sponsors and partners of its season, productions, and Education and Outreach Program include International Paper, ArtsMemphis, Tennessee Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts and Arts Midwest, First Horizon Foundation through an ArtsFirst grant, Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, Independent Bank, Evans|Petree, P.C., Campbell Clinic, the family of Pat and Ernest Kelly, The Sims Family Foundation, Nancy R. Copp, the family of Owen and Margaret Wellford Tabor, Dr. Greta McCormick Coger, the Barbara B. Apperson Angel Fund, the Dunbar Abston Fund for Sustainable Excellence, University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance, Shelby County Schools, Collierville Municipal School District, Memphis Juvenile Justice System, the Memphis V.A. Hospital, and the Benjamin Hooks Library Friends. TSC’s season is funded under a Grant Contract with the State of Tennessee.
About Tennessee Shakespeare Company:
Tennessee Shakespeare Company is a professional, not-for-profit theatre and education organization in Memphis dedicated to live, diverse performances of William Shakespeare’s plays, as well as works of social significance by classical, Southern, and modern writers/composers; and to providing innovative educational and training programming in-person and online.
Founded in 2008 by Producing Artistic Director Dan McCleary, Tennessee Shakespeare Company is Memphis’ first and only professional, classical theatre. In 2017, TSC purchased its first performing arts facility, which is being renovated into the state’s only permanent home for professional, year-round Shakespeare performance, education, and training. The company is in the midst of its $6.5 million Brave New World capital campaign.
TSC has engaged its community with 47 site-specific plays and events for over 50,000 patrons. Its ground-breaking Education Program has reached 120 schools across nine states, totaling over 250,000 student interactions. The Program has achieved a high regional and national profile, partners annually with most local school systems, and for the second consecutive year is one of just seven U.S. theatres to be awarded a National Endowment for the Arts/Arts
Midwest’s Shakespeare in American Communities Juvenile Justice grant for expanded residencies with local incarcerated youth.
The Education Program this year is launching its inaugural Online Academy, a digital catalogue of nearly 50 online courses, classes, playshops, residencies, and performances for students in K-12, for college students, and for adult learners. Taught entirely by TSC’s Teaching-Artists, the Academy provides a hybrid of live and pre-recorded classical educational opportunities at affordable rates that feature interactivity, dynamism, inquiry, and joy for all learners.