The Juliet Project is a solo work by actor/dancer/creator Marissa Moses. Marissa dives into the power of self-identity and the culture of modern day feminism using the veil of the iconic character, William Shakespeare's Juliet. While traditionally audiences see Juliet with her Romeo, The Juliet Project is exploring the soul and agency of Juliet as the sole catalyst for action. Often depicted as the fragile feminine this project aims to unearth the strength and determination of Juliet as a feminist role model who fights for her beliefs until death. Feminism is not a thing to be achieved, it is an activity - it is a means to an end on the pathway to equality. By removing all other characters from the performance, Juliet’s battle for the ideal can represent something beyond romantic love. In this piece, Romeo represents the realization of societal equality and liberation, while the other characters represent the many conflicts faced within the feminist movement.
The Juliet Project is the reclamation of a woman’s inner Juliet. The archetype of Juliet offers everyone access to the freshness of possibility, the courage that comes from believing in something, the inner-fire that comes with struggle, and the acceptance that leaning into uncertainty holds. Contrasting and merging these two women as mirrors of each other (the artist being a woman in her 30’s, and Juliet being a young girl of almost 14) dives into the exploration of the pain of lost innocence and the hope of renewal. With the loss of innocence the modern woman often loses sight of uncompromising faith. So often with age and experience compromise takes the lead, paving a way for the oppressed to be saddled right back into their designated space. Moses encourages her audience to put Juliet’s struggle in the context of the struggle of the every(wo)man. The exploration of arche/stereotypes allows an audience fertile ground for self-interpretation because it provides distance within the familiar. Juliet is familiar - both as a character in one of the most renowned plays in the history of time, and also within everyone who undergoes the universal journey from adolescence to adulthood and the hardship that too often comes with standing up for their beliefs.
Within Shakespeare’s play, Juliet is a catalyst for action. She is the first to profess her love (which Romeo overhears), she is the one to propose marriage, she is the one to go to Friar Lawrence and say she will either kill herself or that he must provide a solution. She is on fire. When she is emblazoned, her spirit serves as impetus for the story that unfolds. When circumstances pile against Juliet’s hopes and dreams she fights back and demands an alternative. When viewed through this lens, she no longer resembles the fragile feminine but transforms into a strong young woman who has something to believe in and makes a change. At the top of the play, she is the golden child not yet jaded by the hurt that only experience can bring. Within Shakespeare’s text, we see that to her parents, Juliet is a child born to be obedient and given away into marriage. Additionally, her betrothed, Paris', first words to her are about owning her. These themes are trickled down into the feminist movement of the modern western world. Societies role for her is the dutiful daughter, created to serve and obey. By pouring herself entirely into the love she feels as true, she stands for a cause and has great purpose in what she is willing to sacrifice. When posed against current culture, Juliet’s journey can be seen as an allegory for the feminist struggle.
The Juliet Project is an improvisational exploration of the space where acting and dance become one and the same, where performer and Juliet become one and the same, and where the unification of these seemingly distinct constructs brings about an inner knowingness and complete melding of two halves. In this piece, Marissa explores the psychophysical relationship of self, character, and how those identities can break open one another in new ways. The artist sums it up succinctly in her previous work: “I am trying to hook into something bigger than myself, while I am myself, through the archetype of Juliet.” The Juliet Project shines a light on the reckoning that emerges from joining these two women together and the powerful resonance that can result from the juxtaposition of source material and the contemporarily conscious performer.
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