Britian Seibert, as Juliet, and Ian Kramer, as Romeo, are shown. Siebert and Kramer are cast members for The National Players, who are performing at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster this weekend.
Britian Seibert, as Juliet, and Ian Kramer, as Romeo, are shown. Siebert and Kramer are cast members for The National Players, who are performing at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster this weekend. (SUBMITTED PHOTO , Carroll County Times)

When Britian Seibert performs as Shakespeare's Juliet this weekend, she will be wearing bright pink Converse shoes.

That was her choice. It's what she thought Juliet, the 16th-century young lover, would wear today.

The Olney-based National Players will perform "Romeo and Juliet" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for Carroll County Arts Council members, students and seniors.

This is the 64th season for The National Players, making the organization the country's longest-running professional touring theater.

Like so many Shakespeare performances today, "Romeo and Juliet," the tale of two lovers whose deaths unite rival families, has been adapted. This performance will feature modern dress, Seibert's pink shoes included.

It's no different than in 16th century England, when Shakespeare's actors would arrive on stage wearing their modern clothing. The styles have changed but not the theatrical approach, said Jason King Jones, the National Players director.

"In some ways, this is the most traditional thing we could have done," he said.

Expect fluorescent lighting to be used as part of the backdrop and text messaging to be used as part of the script.

"We had fun exploring the show and taking what didn't work as far as the period," said Justin Weaks, the company manager who portrays both Tybalt and Paris.

The cast arrived in Olney in August and began immediately preparing for their two traveling shows this year: "Romeo and Juliet" and "Animal Farm."

The cast of eight performers are all in their 20s and are all recent college graduates eager for the opportunity to perform all over the country.

"A lot of us just graduated and we were told it was going to be hard to get a job in the arts," said Seibert, a Boston University graduate originally from Chicago. "Yet less than three months after graduating, we were all employed and doing what we love and been trained to do."

The performers are still learning through their season with the National Players, Jones said.

With such a small cast, the National Players are getting a crash course in everything from set design to costumes to props.

"We [are] learning not only our craft but other facets of theater," said Weaks, a Charlotte native.

The National Players will keep busy, with future stops in New York and New England after the quick trip to Westminster.

In addition to performing, they will also be talking theater at school workshops and question and answer sessions that follow each performance, including the one at the Carroll Arts Center.

Audience members are free to ask about Shakespeare, how the show got put together and, yes, even Seibert's pink Juliet shoes.

"What is really exciting about it is we could put a little bit of ourselves into the show," Seibert said.

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