The year is 1958. The Civil Rights Movement is picking up steam and tensions between whites and African Americans are evident in every public space. One man, a director who is unusually progressive, makes waves by casting a white Juliet and an African American Romeo in his production. This pushes someone over the edge and causes them to commit a terrible crime. It’s up to you to decide who it was.
This is the plot of the upcoming show Thus With A Kiss I Die, presented by the MSU Department of Theatre. Thus With A Kiss I Die is unlike any other production that the department has ever done, because the audience is actually part of the show; they interact with, follow and spy on the actors in order to decipher who they believe committed the crime at the final performance of Romeo and Juliet.
The director of the show, Rob Roznowski, is excited to have the audience play such a critical role in the production. “It is a unique experiment on an impressive scale. It is a form of theatre that has been gaining popularity, and we’re happy to be doing it at MSU. It is unlike anything you may have seen before. Half of the fun of seeing this type of show is the discussion afterward, where you and other audience members share the various storylines and plot points you didn’t get to see,” Roznowski said.
The audience has freedom in deciding which path to explore. Attendees may follow one actor for the entire evening, stay in a specific location and let the action come to them or follow a particular storyline. They will then have to work with others who saw different parts of the show to solve the crime.
“Through a series of flashbacks, audiences can examine the motives of the actors,” Roznowski said. Because each audience member can choose exactly how mobile or stationary they want to be, the show is accessible and enjoyable for all.
Although the production takes place in the past, many of the issues that will arise are still present today. “The legacy of segregation still permeates many aspects of our society,” Glenn Chambers, an associate professor in the MSU Department of History, said. Roznowski also added that “the show is about a bleak time culturally in America. It is about intolerance and deals with heavy themes of segregation, homophobia and bullying in a unique fashion.”
The show has 40 possible endings and no two performances will be the same. This means that you can have a new and fun experience every time you go. For dates and times of the show, visit goo.gl/WmsMzU.