Inside the Story: BYU actors perform bilingual Shakespeare classic to reach young students

Inside the Story: BYU actors perform bilingual Shakespeare classic to reach young students (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) A group of Brigham Young University actors are putting a new twist on a famous Shakespeare play.

Their version is not called "Romeo and Juliet.," but "Romeo y Julieta."

"Romeo speaks English much like the Shakespeare's version. Julieta is bilingual in English and Spanish," said Julia Ashworth, the play's director.

The actors have taken this bilingual play on the road to schools in Utah where speaking both English and Spanish is an every day thing.

Several actors in the production are fluent Spanish speakers, and couldn't be happier with the reaction they are getting from kids.

"They get so excited. Their eyes light up and they say, 'I speak Spanish. My Mom's from Mexico,'" said Rachel Leishman, who plays Julieta.

"I think it's really important to have more cultures represented," said Amelia Johnson, another actor.

This bilingual production was shortened into an one-hour play.

"The really bare bone, minimalistic approach that we've done is just true theater," said Daniel Mesta, who plays Teabaldo, also known as Tybalt. "Everyone is a story teller. They are playing multiple characters. They are changing on stage."

Ashworth, the director and associate professor, came up with the idea for the play more than a year ago.

"I'm always thinking about innovation and artistic risk-taking for myself and my students," she said. "I'm also thinking about community members and how we can serve our community in the most inclusive and best way possible."

The BYU actors are performing shows every Tuesday and Thursday in Utah and Salt Lake counties.

Hawthorne Elementary in Salt Lake City, where they have already performed, plans on putting on the play themselves next week, March 19th-22nd.