Avant-Garde Director Has Some Green With Envy

BOSTON.  Evan Zaremba is a cutting-edge director who is sought out by theatre companies around the world.  “He brings a very personal approach to everything he does, even the oldest warhorses,” says Donald Mayerson, a theatre critic here.

“Twelve Angry Men” as cast by Zaremba.


Zaremba’s specialty is reworking plays in a unique and often controversial fashion that departs from the playwright’s direction, such as his “Oedipus Rex” set in a St. Louis bowling alley and an all-white “Porgy ‘n Bess.”

“Shh!  The play’s about to begin!”


“Evan’s intent is to shock people into reexaming the classics,” says Morgan Danielson, an actor who has performed in several of his more outlandish productions, such as a “King Lear” in which Lear is the Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio.  “It may be because he has no original ideas of his own, which can be a good thing for an artist.”

“Romeo, Romeo–wherefore art thou Romeo?”

But Zaremba’s latest re-imagination of a classic may be his most daring yet–a full-scale production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” performed entirely by “Chia Pets,” the collectible figurines whose green coat is formed by shoots of grass.

“Evan is out there, no question about it,” says Malcolm Ernest, a producer who has bankrolled some of Zaremba’s past efforts, with moderately successful results.  “I think Evan’s audience will be able to handle this one, but I don’t know how many classically-trained Chia Pets will audition.”

“Maybe I need a pair of hedge trimmers!”


Chia Pets achieved widespread popularity in the 1980′s but have declined in popularity, as has Shakespearean drama, because young people view both as requiring more work than video games and other pastimes.  Their signature green covering is achieved by applying moistened seeds of “chia,” a sprout-like plant that my wife puts on her cereal, to the grooved terra cotta bodies of the figurines, and adding water.  The green, filmy substance on the covers of paperback copies of Shakespeare’s plays in high school libraries is mold.

Montagues and Capulets.


Theatre-goers who prefer experimental works to more traditional fare are eagerly anticipating opening night, as indicated by healthy advance ticket sales.  “We are so looking forward to this new twist on Romeo and Juliet,” says Emily Dyson of Lincoln, Mass., a suburb where organic gardening is popular.  “I’m bringing a watering can and a box of tissue, because I always cry at the end.”

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “The Genteel Crowd: Being Vulgar is So Much More Fun.”

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