New Haven’s mayor called down from a City Hall balcony: “Good night, good night!/ Parting is such sweet sorrow/ That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”
Mayor Toni Harp recited those lines, and much more from the famous Romeo and Juliet “balcony scene.” You can watch the four-minute segment by clicking on the above video. Then you can recite the same lines, or other Shakespeare snippets, yourself at an upcoming Ninth Square event.
The Elm Shakespeare Company invited Harp to perform the scene with Company Associate Director Raphael Massie (aka Romeo) using the City Hall atrium balcony and steps in order to promote the upcoming event, “I Am Shakespeare.” The company is conducting the event on June 6 as part of the Ninth Square’s monthly Create On9 street fair.
Click here for the text of the balcony scene, which was edited down for the grand City Hall performance.
Harp and Massie did the video in only two takes after a 15-minute rehearsal, according to the company’s managing director, Daniel Fitzmaurice, an eyewitness to the event, which was also watched by the mayor’s entire staff as audience.
In the second take, working with orotund-voiced Massie, the mayor’s delivery of some of the most famous stage lines ever —“Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?” as well as “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”—was decidedly improved, Fitzmaurice said.
“The first take was very cold, but after a few notes from Stephen Dest and Raphael Massie, her second was completely transformed and is what you see and hear in the video. The process took only 15 minutes,” he wrote in an email.
And that’s to be the idea behind the June 6 event.
Without preparation or memorization, strollers in the Ninth Square will be able to perform short, famous Shakespearean scenes with the company’s actors either on an outdoor stage or in a video booth if more privacy is preferred.
All will be video-ed by local filmmaker Stephen Dest, who also recorded Mayor Harp’s performance, as part of a longer film about encountering Shakespeare, according to Fitzmaurice.
Meanwhile, Harp’s star turn raises Shakespearean possibilities. She recently brought Hamden and New Haven closer together through the demolition of our own “Berlin Wall.” Can a mayoral-led reconciliation between the Capulets and Montagues be far behind?