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latinx theatre; latinx plays; latinx shakespeares; bilingual theatre; bilingual Shakespeares; bilingual Shakespeare


Romeo y Julieta

Translation by: Karen Zacarías

Directed by: Henry Godinez

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Chicago, IL) – 2008



Romeo y Julieta (2008)


by Adriana Gaviria


This commissioned, bilingual adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet play was performed as a staged reading on July 25 and 26, 2008, at 7 p.m. in the Theatre at Little Village Lawndale High School located at 3120 S. Kostner Avenue in Chicago for free. The readings were followed by a 30-minute post-show talkback with cast and crew.


Henry Godinez, co-founder of Teatro Vista and director of Chicago's Latino Theatre Festival, re-imagined Shakespeare's story of two lovers on opposite sides of a divided city within a modern Latino community. Karen Zacarías, founding artistic director of Young Playwrights’ Theatre in Washington, D.C., adapted and translated the script. Godinez and Zacarías used the 1964 Pablo Neruda translation as a reference.


Spanish was used to repeat some lines and at other times replace others. In this production, rehearsal was very collaborative and actors would discover and suggest whether English or Spanish was appropriate for the character in that moment, or when switching to entire speeches in Spanish or English would fit better.


In general, the Capulets were fluent in Spanish and tended to speak mostly in Spanish, while the Montagues spoke mostly in English and tended to speak in Spanglish if Spanish was incorporated. There were also intergenerational differences when speaking Spanish and English, such as is the case of modern-day bilingual households whose members may be first- and second-generation American. In scenes between Romeo and Julieta, for example, these differences of each actor's relationship to the Spanish language were heard and seen clearly by the audience.


The cast of local and national Latiné artists included: Elizabeth Peña as Lady Capulet, Adriana Gaviria as Julieta, Tanya Saracho as the Nurse, Carlos Rogelio Diaz as Romeo, Desmin Borges as Mercutio, Adrian Gonzales as Paris, Eddie Martinez, Eddie Torres and Larry Yando.

Luna Blues Machine, a Chicago-based acoustic hip-hop, Latin, folk-soul band fronted by sisters Belinda and Maritza Cervantes created a live musical soundscape for the performance.



See also:

“Chicago Theater Happenings: Shakespeare en Español,” Accessed November 4, 2011.


Romeo y Julieta: Shakespeare en Español.” 24 Jun 2008. Accessed October 14, 2022.


Carla Della Gatta, “Shakespeare and American Bilingualism: Borderland Theatricality in Romeo y Julieta,” in Renaissance Shakespeare/Shakespeare Renaissances: Proceedings of the Ninth World Shakespeare Congress, eds. Martin Prochazka et al., University of Delaware Press, 2014, 286–95.




All images courtesy of Adriana Gaviria 

Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Romeo y Julieta (2008)

The cast of Romeo y Julieta by Karen Zacarías

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Chicago, IL) - 2008 

Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Romeo y Julieta (2008)

Desmin Borges (Mercutio) and Adriana Gaviria (Julieta) from Romeo y Julieta 

Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Romeo y Julieta (2008)
Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Romeo y Julieta (2008)

Director Henry Godinez and Adriana Gaviria (Julieta) of Romeo y Julieta by Karen Zacarías

Adriana Gaviria and Elizabeth Peña of Romeo y Julieta

by Karen Zacarías

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