Fairfield University's R&J Project launches in February with discussion of "Women in Shakespeare" and free film festival


Image: OpheliaThe R&J Project, one of three areas of focus at Fairfield University for 2009-2010, initiates a university-wide, multidisciplinary exploration of the many situations, characters, events and repercussions experienced in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." The R&J Project, made possible through a generous grant from the College of Arts and Sciences Board of Advisors at Fairfield University, will feature panels, films, lectures and an art exhibition. It will culminate in April with nine performances of Theatre Fairfield's daring and contemporary approach to Shakespeare's timeless play directed by Barbra Berlovitz, one of three founders of the Tony Award-winning theatre company Theatre de la Jeune Lune. Sonya Berlovitz, an accomplished costume designer and painter will design the costumes for the production. Many of the R&J Project events are free and open to the public. All R&J Project events are a feature of Fairfield University's 2009-2010 Arts & Minds Series.

Events commence Thursday, Feb. 11 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. with a panel of five University professors who will discuss "Women in Shakespeare": Professor Elizabeth Haas (English and Women's Studies) introduces the topic and moderates; Professor Richard Regan (English), Professor Robert Epstein (English), Professor Patricia Behre (History) and Professor Lynne Porter (Theater) discuss the role of women in the Bard's work, viewed from the vantage points of each discipline. Professor Porter's topic, "Who's Wearing the Pants?" focuses on the effects of cross-gender casting; Professor Regan's focus is young heroines in Shakespeare.

Next, a "Romeo and Juliet Film Festival" begins on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. These events will be held in the Multimedia Room at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library and are free and open to the public.

The first in the three-film series, "The Bubble" (2006) is a film about an Israeli man who falls in love with a Palestinian man in Tel Aviv. "The Bubble" is an award-winning Israeli film directed by Eytan Fox and co-written by Fox and Gal Uchovsky. It stars Ohad Knoller as Noam, an Israeli soldier who is completing his army reserve duty at a border checkpoint when he meets Ashraf, a handsome Palestinian played by Yousef Sweid.
Set against a tense political backdrop, the film explores the impact of cultural taboos surrounding Middle Eastern gay relationships as well as the impossibilities Jews and Arabs face when attempting to co-exist. There is humor mixed with painful realities as Ashraf's secrets are exposed on both sides of the border with tragic consequences.

Philip Bahr, Reference and Media Librarian will present the film and will join Professor Haas, who is also a professor of New Media and Film, and members of the LGBT Alumni Association and Alliance for a talkback following the screening. The Office of Student Diversity Programs at Fairfield University sponsors the film.

Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 8:00 p.m., the film festival continues with Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet" (1996) starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo and Claire Danes as Juliet. An all-star cast including John Leguizamo as Tybalt, Pete Postlethwaite as Father Laurence, Paul Sorvino, Brian Dennehy, Paul Rudd, Miriam Margolyes, Christina Pickles and Diane Venora, supports the star-crossed lovers.

Professor Regan, a Shakespearean expert, introduces the film. Professor Haas returns to lead the talkback following the film.

The film series ends on Tuesday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m. with Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story" introduced by music Professor Laura Nash. The Tony Award®-winning musical, currently running on Broadway in a highly praised revival, was based on Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" and is set in New York City in 1957. Stephen Sondheim was the lyricist and Arthur Laurents wrote the book. Professor Haas and Rev. Mark Scalese, S. J., assistant professor of new media, conclude the event with a talkback following the film.

To see a complete list of R&J Project events, visit www.fairfield.edu/cas/randj_events.

Directions: Fairfield University is located off I-95, exit 22 at 1073 North Benson Road, Fairfield, CT 06824.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on January 29, 2010

Vol. 42, No. 182

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