University of Pittsburgh
February 19, 2007

Pitt's Shakespeare-in-the-Schools Brings Romeo & Juliet To Regional Schools


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH-The University of Pittsburgh's Shakespeare-in-the-Schools (SITS) program continues to perform Romeo and Juliet at a number of area high schools this spring, giving many young people their first experience with theater and the Bard.

Pitt's presentation is a lively 50-minute adaptation of Shakespeare's classic, compliments of director Holly Thuma, an artist-in-residence in Pitt's Theatre Arts department, part of the School of Arts and Sciences. Thuma has woven selected scenes and monologues into a fast-paced, interactive, contemporary production already viewed by more than 5,000 students. The SITS production asks an important question that Shakespeare left unanswered: Were the lovers doomed to die because of their parents' feud or because they were too impetuous in love? The production encourages students to question, interpret, and explore Shakespeare's popular classic.

Veteran Pittsburgh actors Doug Mertz, Elena Alexandratos, and Karen Baum portray all the major characters, while a violinist provides musical accompaniment. The show opens with a dynamic swordfight, then sweeps student audiences further into the action through humor, poetry, and drama.

"In Shakespeare, the language drives everything," Thuma explains. To help the play resonate for today's young audiences, the actors are dressed in modern street clothes, a nod to the Elizabethan tradition of actors donning their own (or donated) clothing when taking the stage. "The students also will benefit from observing the actors as they transform to embody the varying characters," adds Thuma.

A program based in Pitt's Department of Theatre Arts, SITS provides a number of outreach programs that encourage creativity and a life-long interest in the arts.



Feb. 21 Mt. Lebanon HS

9:10 a.m. Mt. Lebanon, Pa.

Feb. 28 McKeesport HS

1 p.m. McKeesport, Pa.

March 16 Cornell Abraxas Center

10 a.m. for Adolescent Females

Pittsburgh, Pa.

March 28 St. Louise de Marillac

Time TBA School

Bethel Park, Pa.

March 30 Beaver Area HS

9:30 a.m. Beaver, Pa.

April 4 Moon Area SHS

9:30 a.m. Moon Township, Pa.

April 4 The Ellis School

2:15 p.m. Pittsburgh, Pa.

April 11 Heymann Theatre

10 a.m. Stephen Foster Memorial

7 p.m. Forbes Ave. and Bigelow Blvd.

April 16 HeymannTheatre

10 a.m. Stephen Foster Memorial

Forbes Ave. and Bigelow Blvd.

April 18 Avonworth HS

9 a.m. Pittsburgh, Pa.

April 20 Albert Gallatin HS

10:30 a.m. Uniontown, Pa.

April 25 South Park HS

9 a.m. South Park, Pa.

April 30 Heymann Theatre

10 a.m. Stephen Foster Memorial

Forbes Ave. and Bigelow Blvd.