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#57SummerHotSpots: Shakespeare in the Streets

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-“I’m from South Bend I currently live in Georgia. It just tears me up every time I look at the news and I say hey I went to school with that person who just got killed and it’s just not a good feeling,” said Marlon Burnley, Director of Shakespeare in the Streets.

March of 2014 was a tipping point for the community surrounding Fremont Park, a place where kids should be able to play freely without having to worry about bullets flying through the air.

Since that time, a group of residents have taken back their park by bringing positive activities, including a splash pad and even creating the Fremont Youth Foundation to educate young children.

But now, a new partnership with Notre Dame, South Bend Venues Parks and Arts and the Fremont Youth Foundation hopes by bringing Shakespeare and theater to Fremont Park, kids can learn how to express themselves in ways other than violence. 

Shakespeare in the Streets offers not only kids, but adults in the community the chance to spend their time on something productive.

By introducing the story of Romeo and Juliet to the Northside neighborhood, Marlon Burnley hopes the story of two feuding families can help these kids take a closer look at how violence affects entire families and communities.

“I think it’s really cool because it forces us to hold a mirror up to ourselves as people and as a society and see that we’re responsible for what happens and it’s mainly on us as adults,” Burnley said.

Most of the participants have no background in theater but they jumped in like pros.

“It actually amazed me at auditions when I have them read Shakespeare’s monologues, it just came out like water and that never happens,” Burnley said.

This is the first year for Shakespeare in the Streets, but Burnley is hoping the community will rally behind this idea so the program can continue in the future.

I think this is something that the community needs and Notre Dame is really good in reaching into the community,” Burnley said.

The cast of Romeo and Juliet will perform live on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. On Friday, the Apprentice Company with the festival will perform Twelfth Night. Kids from South Bend’s La Casa de Amistad will perform scenes from Romeo and Juliet in Spanish. All performances are free of charge.

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