With this year’s presentation of The Ballad of Romeo & Juliet, the American Myth Center (AMC) delivers drama directly to its audiences, partnering with a different Buncombe County Library branch each weekend in June and setting up a mobile stage, the Show Truck, onsite. “The origin of the Show Truck sprouted primarily from our desire to be able to bring our storytelling to the community instead of asking them to come to us,” says director and AMC curator Aaron Snook. “In Asheville terms, it’s a food truck for theatre, but there is a long tradition of similar traveling wagons. I also prefer the idea of playing outside as the Greeks once did, so there is no barrier between us and the world we’re trying to figure out.”
The Ballad of Romeo & Juliet is a music-infused adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic tale set in the Appalachian Mountains after the Civil War. “At the heart of this adaptation is the idea of inherited hate, as the young people that die are casualties of a war that is no longer being waged on the battlefield,” Snook says. “I believe we still have a heritage of hate today and, in recent years, it has seemed to grow louder and louder. With this production, we hope to spark a vital conversation around this idea within our community, as nothing gets better without confronting and acknowledging the problem.”
Venues include The Lot @ 68 Haywood and libraries in downtown Asheville, Fairview, Leicester and Swannanoa. Evening shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. with three matinees on Saturdays at 2 p.m. See the website for a complete listing of dates and show times. All shows are free and open to the public, and those attending are asked to bring their own seat.
Snook’s next project is The Lost Bacchae, an adaptation of Euripides’ The Bacchae that involves the cause of the Confederacy and the narratives that spring from it. In early drafts now, the AMC crew hopes to debut it next year at this time.
Snook hopes that outdoor venues, fresh casting, an additional musician and a deepening of story will attract new audiences. “Too many people don’t feel invited to traditional theatre and that exclusion is a detriment to our art form,” Snook says. “We hope the Show Truck can help break down those barriers and introduce this form of storytelling to a whole new group of people.”