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Best Director Phoenix 2012 - Damon Dering in Shakespeare's R & J

Shakespeare's R & J offers the bare bones of Romeo and Juliet (interspersed with other Shakespearean verse) in Joe Calarco's passionate play about four Catholic school boys who read aloud from a banned copy of the bard's most famous tragedy. In a chilly attic that doubles as Verona, these repressed, rep-tie-wearing lads honor an old Shakespearean tradition of males playing female roles as they create an evening's entertainment that's all subtext. And every moment of that subtext was cleverly outlined for even the most illiterate among us, thanks to the finesse and insight of director Damon Dering in last season's production of this difficult, complex piece of theater. It's a rough-and-tumble play that grafts comedy onto a tragic love story and asks that we watch both what these boys are doing with Old Will and what reading his love story is doing for them. And Dering made it all look so easy — and entertained us, besides.

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