Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Romeo & Juliet

::WARNING — YOU WILL READ MORE THAN JUST A QUOTE IN THIS POST, AND IT WILL TAKE YOU LONGER THAN AN INSTAGRAM VIDEO’S LENGTH. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK::

The first time I read Shakespeare as a child I was drawn to it instantly. I didn’t quite understand the work or know anything about it – but that’s what I loved. The words, the cadence, the imagery, the not-knowing, the bleak, the fantasy.
I remember feeling like if I learned about Shakespeare or his work I would be smarter, sophisticated, people would respect me, and I wouldn’t be just some knucklehead Hispanic kid.
I never did though – learn all about him, or read/act in one of his plays, but still feel he and his approach to language was a big inspiration to me and my writings.

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Years later in 2006, after performing my first one-man show “Insanity Isn’t”, Justin Macdonnell​, a great man I have immense respect for, came up to me and said, in his Australian accent, “You, young sir, are amazing – and a Shakespearian actor at that. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next thing I saw you in was King Lear!”

I didn’t know what or who or when King Lear was, but I didn’t care. I never had the privilege of going to school for theater, performance, ensemble, improvisation, acting, writing etc – and throughout the years have had a hard time calling myself a practitioner of any of those crafts because of it. So, Justin saying this to me was a big deal. I felt accepted, sophisticated, respected.

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But, after 11 years of experience in the theater, numerous shows under my belt, 3 of those being my own one-man shows, I still had never been in or performed a Shakespearian pl ay/monologue. Until this past weekend when my Shakespearian cherry was popped by some of my best friends, friends, and new friends – and I couldn’t have asked for a better first time.

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One of my best friends, Tarell Alvin McCraney​ just happens to be one of the best playwrights in the land. Don’t know him? You’re stupid.

And he casted me in the first play I ever saw from Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.
And I got to play Tybalt, who was my favorite character from the Baz Luhrmann movie version, because I was a John Leguizamo fan as a kid.

And I got to perform it in Miami.

Outside.
Under the sunset.
Under the stars.
In the round. (To the hip hop heads, that means in a cypher, yo).

And I got to perform it with the most fucking talented cast ever.
Like fuck! Serious.
It didn’t rain.
700 plus people showed up.
People were touched.
Moved.
Happy.

And I got my Shakespearian on for the first time ever.

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So thank you.

Thank you for trusting me.
Thank you for being you.
Thank you for letting me be me with you.

Pardon my monkey thumbs,

-Rudi (Writer/Actor)

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