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Atlanta Shakespeare Company/American Shakespeare Tavern

Teens Star in Shakespeare's Tale of Teens

Call it stunt casting or apt casting: The Atlanta Shakespeare Company is casting two teenagers to play the title roles in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo and Juliet, palm to palm, holding candle, she looking at their joining hands, he looking at her
Jake West as Romeo goes palm to palm with Margaret Flock as Juliet in a promotion photo for the Atlanta Shakespeare Company's production of Romeo and Juliet at the American Shakespeare Tavern. Flock and West, seniors at Atlanta-area high schools, were cast in the lead roles of an otherwise all-adult production after their performances in the company's student program. Photo by Jeff Watkins, Atlanta Shakespeare Company.

Margaret Flock, a senior at the Lovett School in Atlanta, and Jake West, a senior at North Cobb Christian School in Kennesaw, Ga., will portray the star-cross’d lovers in the professional company’s annual production Jan. 31–March 20.

Though young, Flock and West are no strangers to the Atlanta Shakespeare Company stage at the Shakespeare Tavern. Both have spent three summers in the company’s Shakespeare Intensive for Teens (SIT), a four-week day camp that brings young performers from across Metro Atlanta to the company’s home theater, where they receive training from professional actors and create their own Shakespeare productions. Flock and West played the leads in the 2011 Shakespeare Intensive for Teens production of Romeo and Juliet—and that’s when Jeff Watkins, artistic director of the company, first had the idea of asking them to reprise their roles in a month-long evening production.

“The emotional accessibility and freshness that these two young people brought to their roles was remarkable,” Watkins said in a press release. “Having watched them perform Romeo and Juliet on our stage through SIT, I thought that our wider audience deserved to see what I was seeing.”

This marks the 13th year that the company has performed a February production of Romeo and Juliet, an annual event that’s become a Valentine’s Day tradition in Atlanta. This particular Shakespeare play holds emotional resonance for Watkins, who watched the Franco Zeffirelli film version starring two teenagers while he was still a youngster himself. “This is the play that rocked my world when I was 13,” says Watkins, who credits the film with beginning his interest in Shakespeare.

February 1, 2013

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