By: Joe Falocco
Adaptation and translation by: Alfredo Michel Modenessi
Directed by: Joshian Morales
Central Florida Community Arts (Orlando, FL) - 2020
Dos Familias (2020)
by Joe Falocco
I conceived of this bilingual adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and envisaged it as taking place in Texas in 1850. Within this conceit, the Capulets are long-time Tejano residents who speak primarily Spanish. The Montagues, by contrast, are newly arrived Anglos who speak primarily in English. Frustrated by the stilted quality of Luis Astrana Marín’s 1929 Iberian translation, I sought the collaboration of Alfredo Michel Modenessi, a scholar and translator at UNAM in Mexico City. The Spanish dialogue in Dos Familias thus derives from Modenessi’s contemporary translation. Together, Modenessi and I crafted a script that was produced via “Stream-Yard” (a kind of theatrical Zoom) by CFC Arts in Orlando in July 2020. Based on feedback from this internet production, we made additional cuts to restrict the script to “two hours traffic.” We then obtained US copyright for Dos Familias in 2021.
On April 6, 2022, I directed a performance of Dos Familias at the Shakespeare Association of America (SAA) conference in Jacksonville. Nicole Ponce played Juliet and Joshua Goodridge reprised the role of Romeo, which he had previously played at the Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern. In preparation for this event, I assembled a company in Orlando and rehearsed for several weeks. The actors then gave a public performance at Penguin Point Playhouse in Oviedo, Florida, on April 5.
Because of the limitations of the Jacksonville venue, and because there was no significant production budget, these Florida stagings were not able to create the period setting. The absence of a set with a second level also required additional cuts to the script for several moments that made no sense without an onstage balcony. The resulting stripped-down staging employed a seven-foot backdrop comprised of pipe and draping. During the “Balcony Scene,” Juliet appeared above this backdrop as she stood on two “actor boxes” (a simple solution that was surprisingly effective). The actors wore a mixture of modern clothing and Elizabethan elements. Combat was executed with rapier and dagger, as per Shakespeare’s script.
As a result of these eclectic staging choices, Dos Familias took place in an unspecified time and place where English and Spanish vied for linguistic dominance. The Capulets were portrayed by Latinx performers from many different countries. The cast contained one Venezuelan, one Colombian, one Salvadoran, two Peruvians, and several Puerto Ricans. The Montagues were played by a mixture of white and African-American performers. The diverse ethnic makeup of both families clearly established language and not “race” or “color” as the main difference between them. The audience in Oviedo was approximately 80% Latinx, while spectators at the SAA Conference were largely white. Both audiences appreciated Dos Familias, but their great familiarity with the source material made the SAA audience especially enthusiastic. Anyone interested in producing this adaptation should contact Joe Falocco at Jf48 [at] txstate [dot] edu.
Nadia Garzón, “Review of Dos Familias,” Shakespeare Bulletin, forthcoming 2023.