28 july 2018 & janet league, neil hunt in romeo & juliet @shakespeare summer festival
"Our parents always made us feel it was the white's problem. Their prejudice made us think less of them--not of ourselves."
#OTD 28 July 1968 The 8th Annual Shakespeare Summer Festival was in full swing with a run of Romeo and Juliet from 10 July to 25 August. Janet League played Juliet and Neil Hunt, white, played Romeo. This production was special for two reasons: it was the first festival production that was not solely played by white actors and the play was set in New Verona, Louisiana and not Verona, Italy. White director Philip Burton is credited with the idea of setting the production in the early 19th century and pitting the black Capulets against the white Montagues.
The production took place in the Sylvan Theater on the south slope of the Washington Monument. Performances were held daily (except Mondays) at 8:30pm. They were free with the option of reserved seats for $1 and $2. The production appears to have been popular; one review noted 3,000 audience members.
Ellie Chamberlain, white, produced the play and was the festival founder. Robert Troll, white, who worked for the DC Department of Recreation, designed the set. John Peter Halford, white, designed the costumes. David Dever designed the lighting.
Please comment below. Did you go see Romeo and Juliet? Were you a part of the production? Do you remember conversations about Janet League? Do you have photographs or a program? You may comment privately here.
Photo source: Courtesy Jet Magazine. Photographer unknown.
Emeron Beauchamp, "Guess Who's Coming to the Mardi Gras," Evening Star 11 July 1968.
Mary Ann Seawell, "Janet As Juliet Brings Shakespeare Up to Date," Washington Post 21 July 1968. League quote appears here.