ArtsWatch Podcast: Delaware Shakespeare fall tour visits Baylor WCI

Delaware Shakespeare recently brought "Romeo and Juliet" to the Baylor Women's Correctional Institution

It's Shakespeare as many feel it's meant to be: up close and personal. 

Performers are just ten feet away from audience members during Delaware Shakespeare's fall community tour. It's already gone to some non-traditional venues, including the Baylor Women's Correctional Institution.

"This is a professional production of Romeo and Juliet, but it's pared down to be road-worthy," Delaware Shakespeare General Manager JulieAnne Cross said. 

Eight actors play multiple roads and do quick changes. Sets are minimal. 

The show and its personnel undergo extensive security screening to get inside the prison. Baylor Treatment Administrator Rachel Boulden said the commitment is most appreciated - most of all by the audience of female offenders.

"A lot of the women who come in here, they feel like the community has kind of forgotten about them, that they have to be punished forever. We really want to show them that people on the outside care and that there are people who want to come in and do things for them and work with them," Boulden said. "That way, when they get back out in the community they can feel that they're being welcomed home."

The tour developed out of the annual summer Shakespeare Festival at Rockwood Park. The group was well aware there were people who couldn't afford the ticket price, or in this case, could not even get to a performance.

In addition to visiting prisons, Romeo and Juliet is also being presented at schools, community centers, libraries and other venues. Saturday November 9th, there will be a performance at the Route 9 Library and Innovation Center. Wednesday November 15th, 'Romeo and Juliet' will be performed at Ezion-Mount Carmel United Methodist Church in Wilmington, in partnership with the Delaware Center for Homeless Veterans.

The tour wraps up with two performances at the Siegel JCC November 16th and 17th. Tickets are required for those shows, but the proceeds benefit the group's continuing effort to bring Shakespeare to everyone.

"People see themselves in the actors," Cross said. "It's a very beautiful thing to sit with other audience members and experience."