DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Scenes from a play written by UNT theatre professor Andrew B. Harris will make a London debut at the remains of the historic Rose Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse where William Shakespeare is believed to have performed.
Frontline Management, an English actors cooperative, will present portions of Harris' play, The Eternal Romeo and Juliet, on Feb. 7 at the Rose Theatre as part of a benefit for the Rose Theatre Trust. The theater gained fame in 1998 when depicted in the film Shakespeare in Love.
"When I conceived this play, I never dreamed it would be produced at a theater that was at its height when Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet first appeared, nor did I think that I would be the only living playwright to have his work seen there in 400 years," Harris says.
Harris also recently learned he will receive the 2007 Golden Pen Award from the United States Institute for Theatre Technology for his book, The Performing Set: The Broadway Designs of William and Jean Eckart, published by UNT Press. The institute gives the award annually to the author of an outstanding publication in the field of design and production for the performing arts. Dr. Harris will receive the award at the institute’s Annual Conference and Stage Expo in March in Phoenix. He also will autograph copies of the book and present a conference session on the Eckarts' work.
Harris set his play in a courtroom in heaven where Shakespeare, Spanish writer Lope de Vega and Italian poet Luigi Da Porto argue about the originality of their Romeo and Juliet compositions, each written within a few years of each other.
UNT senior Hector Amaya of Houston translated portions of Lope de Vega's play, Castelvines y Monteses, which were incorporated into Harris's adaptation. Amaya will accompany Harris to London to see the translation acted on the stage.
The Eternal Romeo and Juliet was first produced at UNT in April 2005 before being discovered on the Internet by Frontline Management.
"Lord (Laurence) Olivier, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes and Susannah York have lent their support to The Rose," says Katherine Gregor, Frontline's agent. She says the theater's remains "were discovered in 1989, when a new office building was being excavated on Bankside, London's original theatre district."
Two-thirds of the foundations of the theater have been excavated and protected. The Rose Theatre Trust is raising money to excavate the rest and turn it into a permanent display for educational and historical purposes.
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