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  R+J: The Vineyard at The Den Theatre

R+J: The Vineyard

The Den Theatre
1329-1333 N. Milwaukee Chicago

R+J: THE VINEYARD is set in 1890's Martha's Vineyard where a unique deaf/hearing bilingual agricultural community gave way to a budding tourism industry. Intense cultural lines are drawn between hearing and non-hearing as land, lifestyle, and livelihoods ignite the Capulet and Montague families. This beautiful and physical production is both spoken and performed in American Sign Language and intended for all audiences.

Presented by Oracle and Red Theater Chicago

Thru - Feb 20, 2016

Mondays: 7:30pm
Fridays: 7:30pm
Saturdays: 7:30pm
Sundays: 7:30pm

Show Type: Drama

Running Time: 1hr, 30mins

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  R+J: The Vineyard Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...Even in the long silent signing sections, the story resonates clearly. And just as it's refreshing to find plays that incorporate other foreign languages with the assumption that astute audiences can translate from the context, "R&J: The Vineyard" provides a clear path through an overly familiar story for those who have eyes to see."
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Kerry Reid

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...This bilingual adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, adapted by Janette Bauer and Aaron Sawyer (who also directs), is presented in English and American Sign Language. The setting is 1890s Martha’s Vineyard, once home to a large hereditary deaf population. Turning the Bard on his head and "letting hands do what lips do" makes this coproduction of Oracle and Red Theater Chicago one of the most visceral, relatable, and impactful Shakespeare performances in recent memory."
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Marissa Oberlander

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...With sign language allowing for abbreviation conveying vast concepts with astonishing efficiency ( and bawdy jokes rendered considerably more raunchy than in blank verse ), the results come together over a mere 90 minutes with remarkable integrative unity under the guidance of director Sawyer, an array of consultants and instructors and eleven actors of diverse otological capabilities. Sawyer and Bauer provide a pre-curtain prologue for the players to swap sign-chat with hard-of-hearing audience members-and, with welcome generosity, wordplay with the aural-dependent to ease the latter into their dramatic universe."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Even with its reduced cast size, Sawyer’s staging can feel a little cramped on John Wilson’s set, and a couple of the actors playing hearing characters seem to overcompensate for the quiet moments by going extra-declamatory in their own speeches. But overall, this affecting new interpretation of one of Shakespeare’s most-heard works is worth a look and a listen."
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Kris Vire

Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...However often and variously told, Romeo and Juliet is a universal cautionary tale–of lovers rushing into death from sheer impatience with a hateful town. The gulf between hearing and speaking plays right into Shakespeare’s divide-and-conquer dynamic. Typical criteria, it goes without “saying,” don’t apply to R+J: Defying the usual standards that measure merit and motivation, these eleven performances–from a collective comprised of deaf, hard-of-hearing and ASL interpreters–inevitably open up an audience–and a critic–to a different, if not deeper, tragedy."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Recommended

"...The play is now set on nineteenth century Martha's Vineyard, where there was an unusually large deaf population, and the native hearing people also made frequent use of a unique, now extinct sign language. About half of R + J: The Vineyard is performed in American Sign Language, sometimes interpreted, sometimes not, and the raw emotions of its characters in Oracle's very intimate space make this an especially alarming and tragic retelling."
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Jacob Davis

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Instinctually, I am a purist when it comes to Shakespeare, but if something truly innovative can be done that brings out new aspects of the play, then I say full speed ahead. I found myself utterly engrossed by Oracle and the Red Theatre Company’s “R+J: Martha’s Vineyard” in which the two titular characters, as well as many of the Montagues and a few others, are deaf. It surprised me that such a conceit worked so well."
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Lawrence Riordan

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...Thanks, in part, to the recent notoriety of California’s terrific Deaf West Theatre, and their inspiringly beautiful hit Broadway revival of “Spring Awakening,” this production is not only exceptional in every way, it’s also au courant. Most theatergoers will probably know or have at least studied Shakespeare’s beautiful tragedy; but this production about literature’s most famous pair of star-crossed lovers makes the story feel fresh, intimate and very contemporary. The production pulsates with passion and, at only 90 minutes in length, will entertain and move audiences far more than anything else currently playing in the Windy City this Fall. It’s a production that deserves its sold-out audiences and that should not be missed."
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Colin Douglas

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