Romeo and Juliet, 2016

“By whose direction found’st thou out this place?”


We walked in the footsteps of the most famous lovers of all time, following the story as it unfolded throughout majestic California landscapes. We entered a 360 degree sphere of performance and immersed ourselves in the action as We Players blurred the boundary between audience and actors, history and the present moment. Hear the clash of steel as sword fights fly, join the Capulets in their spicy family circle dance, participate in the rituals of marriage and death, and let Romeo & Juliet break your heart and fill you with joy all at once.

Romeo and Juliet

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Ava Roy

Produced by Lauren D. Chavez and Ava Roy
Original Score by Charlie Gurke

Download the Romeo and Juliet at Petaluma Adobe Program Guide
Download the Romeo and Juliet at Villa Montalvo Program Guide




OCTOBER 6 – 16

 "...this extraordinary, site specific production took my breath away! It makes use of every possible gorgeous breathtaking area of our grounds, and the audience travels along and participates." - Angela McConnell, Executive Director, Montalvo Arts Center

“the most memorable theater experience of my life“

“the most joyful and devastating performance of Romeo & Juliet that I have seen”

“Astonishing, beautiful, moving—just fantastic.”  

“A friend I went with said it made her feel connected with the history of the West. I agree with that. All the bloodshed and love and community was right there with us."  

Photos by Lauren Matley

Photos by Lauren Matley

“This will be one of those theater events that we will never forget and always hope to duplicate. To be that close to actors and be moved by the reality of the acting was incredible.”

Romeo & Juliet at Petaluma Adobe
Summer 2016

Having a ball at the Capulet Ball!

Romeo & Juliet at Petaluma Adobe
How To Prepare

+ Buzz


Lori Wood, Open Access : Inside the Lucas Arts Program, We Players presents "Romeo & Juliet at Villa Montalvo" , June 21, 2016

Justin Tonel,, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ With a Twist at Montalvo , October 5, 2016

Anne Gelhaus, The Mercury News , Montagues at Montalvo , September 28, 2016

"...witty, energetic, and entertaining..."
Victor Cordell, For All Events, "Romeo & Juliet" , October 9 , 2016

"Everything in Verona comes to life in We Players' performance of "Romeo and Juliet" which is "site-integrated" with the sumptuous grounds of Villa Montalvo..."
Tony Lacy-Thompson, Regarding Arts , Transported by Shakespeare from Villa Montalvo to Verona , October 10, 2016

Ramya Krishna, Los Altos Town Crier , We Players, Montalvo join forces for 'Romeo & Juliet' , October 12, 2016

Suzie Rodriguez, Sonoma County Tourism , Shakespeare at Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park , August 19, 2016.

Sam Hurwitt, Marin IJ , We Players’ Old West ‘Romeo’ moves the audience, literally , August 17. 2016

"There is birdsong and wind, long shadows in the late afternoon light, before rounding a corner where we spot Antony, a servant to the Capulets, seated on a rail. The illusion of having stepped into a strange town is nearly perfect."

David Templeton, Sonoma Index-Tribune , We Players bring ‘Romeo and Juliet’ out in public , July 28, 2016

Elizabeth Rogers, BayNature , A Shakespearian Classic with a California Landscape Twist: Romeo and Juliet Comes Outdoors to the Petaluma Adobe , July 28, 2016

Matthew Ebisuzaki, Interactive Creativity , August 9, 2016

Lily Janiak, SF Gate , Uneven ‘Romeo’ woos audiences outdoors , August 22, 2016

Broadway World, Montalvo Arts Center to Present Interactive ROMEO & JULIET AT VILLA MONTALVO This Fall , June 10, 2016


I have seen R&J more than I can count, and this was one of the most memorable productions I have ever seen. The energy was contagious, and the setting was beautiful. The ending, the way we quietly walked out and the Prince on the hill, with the band playing - [I] just got goosebumps recalling it! The whole event was something that I would recommend to anyone, and I cannot WAIT to see another We Players production of anything you guys do.
Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of this!
Thank you - it was one of the best theatrical experiences of my life! (and I have been to a LOT of theater! :)"
-Phaedra Strecher - Production Director at North Bay Bohemian/ Pacific Sun

"I did not think it would be possible for a show I knew so well to move me the way it did last night."

" absolutely breathtaking, fully immersive version of Romeo & Juliet."

"I left your performance feeling so inspired... such a beautiful and spiritual way to experience both the site and the play itself."

"THAT WAS AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE!!! I am so impressed, and what a great production. I have seen R&J more than I can count, and this was one of the most memorable productions I have ever seen... Thank you -- it was one of the best theatrical experiences of my life! (and I have been to a LOT of theater!"

“I was utterly blown-away!! The performance has been active in my psyche ever since.”

“Astonishing, beautiful, moving—just fantastic.”

“This will be one of those theater events that we will never forget and always hope to duplicate. To be that close to actors and be moved by the reality of the acting was incredible.”

“All the bloodshed and love and community was right there with us.”

+ Dates & Times

Romeo & Juliet at Petaluma Adobe
Sonoma County, CA

Dates: Friday – Sunday, August 12 – September 25, with previews every Thursday prior to performance weekends
Times: Evening performances are timed with the sunset and begin 4:30-6pm. See ticketing panel for available dates and times. All Sunday performances at 3pm. Performances last for approximately 3 hours.
Location: Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park at 3325 Adobe Rd, Petaluma, CA 94954
Tickets: $60-80

Romeo & Juliet at Villa Montalvo
Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga, CA

Thursday October 6 at 5pm
Friday October 7 at 5pm
Sunday October 9 at 12pm and 5pm
Thursday October 13 at 5pm
Sunday October 16 at 12pm and 5pm
Location: Villa Montalvo at 15400 Montalvo Rd, Saratoga, CA 95070
Tickets: $45-80

+ Partnerships, Packages & Discounts (Click to Expand)


Youth, seniors and students
Youth/Senior/Student discounts are available for every performance except Sunday, October 9, at 5pm and Sunday, October 16, at 5pm. To access the Youth/Senior/Student discount, please call the Montalvo Arts Center box office: 408-961-5858, 10am-4pm Monday-Friday.

School & Community Groups
We Players wants to share our work with young people! We offer steep discounts to organized student groups, and to other organizations with a related mission for connecting people with nature, history and public space. Teachers, principals, and program leaders should contact or call 415-547-0189.

Partnerships & Packages

We Players has been weaving connections in Sonoma County since the end of 2015 - researching the history of Petaluma Adobe to inform our site-integrated theatre project, finding the most amazing immediately local and sustainably-produced food to feature in our production, tasting wines offered in-kind for our special celebrations, and building out partnerships with lodging establishments and transportation organizations to offer safe and enjoyable opportunities for enhancing the experience of our performance.

Get so much more with your ticket to Romeo & Juliet! True to our mission of connecting people with place, we hope you’ll explore the culture, history and natural landscape surrounding Petaluma Adobe before and after experiencing our site-integrated theatre. We Players has teamed up with several local businesses, taking great care in their craft, to expand your performance attendance into a memorable day or weekend in Sonoma County.

Petaluma Arts Center
230 Lakeville St, Petaluma, CA 94952

Building community through art, get your daily dose at Petaluma Arts Center, just a 10 minute drive from the Adobe!

El Pueblo Inn
896 W Napa St, Sonoma, CA 95476

A family owned business operating since 1959, El Pueblo Inn sits at the very heart of Wine Country, flanked by lush fields of grapes and filled with an ambience that blends Tuscan beauty with Adobe serenity.

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
100 Boyes Blvd, Sonoma, CA 95476

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn is the ultimate Wine Country destination. Blessed by natural mineral hot springs and the idyllic wine growing region, you’ll have an incredible stay.

Keller Estates
5875 Lakeville Hwy, Petaluma, CA 94954

A state-of-the-art family and private estate, Keller Estates offers magnificent wines, Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir to name a few, all made possible by the vineyard’s terroir defined by the Petaluma Gap. Visit the gorgeous grounds & wine cave, just and 8 minute drive from the Adobe!

En Garde Fencing: Martial Arts in Santa Rosa
917 Piner Rd Suite D, Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Learn the basics or hone your craft of this unique and fascinating sport, “at once physically challenging and mentally engaging.” Parry like Romeo from Tybalt’s advance! En Guarde!

+ Cast

Jennie Brick as The Nurse

Maria Leigh as Juliet

Claire Haider as Antony (a servant to the Capulets) and the Apothecary

Rick Love as Abraham (a Montague), Potpan (a servant to the Capulets), and Friar John

Amy Nowak as Peter

Libby Oberlin as Capulet

John Steele as Benvolio

Rush Rehm as Friar Laurence

Mohammad Shehata as Romeo

Steve Thomas as Tybalt and the County Paris

Courtney Walsh as Mercutio and Prince Escalus

Nick Carico, Ian Cochran, Brent Elberg, Patrick Malabuyo, Aaron Priskorn as the musicians of Verona

+ Production Team

Director: Ava Roy

Co-Producers: Lauren D. Chavez & Ava Roy

Production Stage Manager: Moira McGovern

Stage Manager & Fight Captain: Britt Lauer

Assistant Stage Manager: Albert Kong

Production Assistants: Liam Collier, Maya Herbsman, Lana Richards

Dramaturg: Jocelyn Shratter

Composer & Music Director: Charles Gurke

Band Leader: Aaron Priskorn

Costume Designer: Brooke Jennings

Mask Artist: Monica Lundy

Choreographer: Becky Robinson-Leviton

Fight Choreographer: Benjamin Stowe

House & Hospitality Manager: Lauren Matley

Photographers: Lauren Matley, Jim Norrena, Miller Oberlin

Videographer: Tracy Martin

Poster Art: Olive Mitra

Graphics Support: Stacy Davis

+ Play

The Prologue

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,
And the continuance of their parents’ rage,
Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

+ Dramaturgy

Rancho Petaluma was established in 1834 by Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, with a land-grant of 44,000 acres by the governor of California. This grant was ostensibly a reward for leadership, but came with a charge to secularize the Solano Mission in Sonoma – part of an effort by the newly independent Mexican government to secularize and claim the land of the Spanish California Missions. Lieutenant Colonel Vallejo marched from the Presidio to Sonoma with his troops, charged to guard his ranch and keep an eye on the nearby Russian Fort Ross.

Rancho Petaluma was one of many ranchos established from newly claimed or converted Mission lands in California following Mexican Independence in 1831. These were vast estates modeled after that of the Spanish landed gentry, single families owning huge tracts of land – for Petaluma Adobe, eventually 66,000 acres. The family and ranch were center of life, pride and celebration vying with competition over boundaries and cattle. The ranchos were owned by Mexican rancheros who brought their families up from Mexico, but staffed largely with former Mission workers. These were usually Native Americans and their californio mixed-race descendants whose culture and life had been subsumed by the establishment of the mission, meant to convert and indoctrinate them – a goal subverted by the convenience of cheap forced labor.

Rancho Petaluma served as working ranch, troop support, family home, until 1846, when California, led by immigrants from the US, declared independence from Mexico, and quickly became a US state. Vallejo was imprisoned for his role in the US-Mexico war, and the rancho commandeered by John C. Fremont, eventually sold – and California itself soon overcome with white Americans, driven by statehood and the Gold Rush.

The Petaluma Adobe ultimately existed for a brief time, but centered on a dynamic historical moment. Existing between wars, land and people passed from one new culture to another, all from different sides of past and present conflicts. The future was uncertain - but all hoping for freedom and happiness.

Here is where we find ourselves with this ubiquitous story of ancient grudge, new mutiny – and two young people with dreams of a better future. Here is where we find a tragedy that ends in hope – hoping it is not false. Here is where we find one of the most famous stories in the world, looking for simpler answers to the ancient conflicts of the land we live in.

+ Place: Petaluma State Historic Park

For the first time in our 16 year history, We Players is setting out to create a production that is built for not one but two unique locations – both historic California sites. We are stretching our site-integrated practice by creating work that is inspired by two landscapes and will be carefully integrated into each.

“The first view of the great valley filled me with emotion. It was a case of love at first sight, which better acquaintance would only deepen... nowhere was there a scene of such beauty and suggestion of everything desirable for man.” – Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo

Rancho Petaluma is both a California State Park, a California Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Made from adobe brick and Redwood, the Adobe functioned both as a headquarters of a working ranch and as a defensive structure against attack by the Russians then living on the California coast.

In 1834, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo was sent from San Francisco, by the Mexican Government, to the area to accomplish three things: to secularize the San Francisco Solano Mission in Sonoma, to colonize the area by starting a pueblo (Sonoma), and to be near the Russian Outpost at Fort Ross. He was given his first land grant of 44,000 acres (later supplemented with another 22,000 acres) as a reward and to further encourage his leadership. General Vallejo’s working ranch was in operation between 1836 and 1857 and employed up to 2,000 Native Americans at a time, who made bricks, hauled lumber, built buildings, cooked, farmed, made tools, tanned hides and tended the large herd of cattle.

The rancho became one of the largest ranches north of the San Francisco Bay and a social-economic center of Northern California. The ranch also included a tannery, smithy, and a grist mill powered by Adobe Creek. The fate of the ranch turned in 1846–48 when the United States and Mexico went to war: Lieutenant Colonel Vallejo was imprisoned for his position in the Mexican military, and in his absence, John C. Frémont requisitioned and stripped the ranch of its horses, cattle and grain reserves for the California Battalion. Many of the natives, his main labor force, fled from the soldiers.

Thereafter the ranch declined in value and profitability every year. In 1910, Native Sons of the Golden West purchased what remained of General Mariano G. Vallejo’s vast adobe ranch house. In 1932 it was registered as California State Historical Landmark #18. After years of work and fundraising, the fully restored historic site was turned over to the State of California in 1951. In 1970, it was registered as a National Historic Landmark.

source: wikipedia

+ Place: Villa Montalvo, Montalvo Arts Center

For the first time in our 16 year history, We Players is setting out to create a production that is built for not one but two unique locations – both historic California sites. We are stretching our site-integrated practice by creating work that is inspired by two landscapes and will be carefully integrated into each.

We Players received a very special invitation from the Montalvo Arts Center to conduct a month-long residency this April 2016 with our Romeo & Juliet cast and crew. We will return to the Montalvo campus in October to adapt our full scale production of Romeo & Juliet for the mansion and grounds of the illustrious Villa Montalvo.

About The Montalvo Arts Center/ Villa Montalvo

Montalvo Arts Center, also known as Villa Montalvo, is a historic landmark built in 1912 by James Duval Phelan (1861-1930). Phelan, a passionate Californian who had been a three-term progressive mayor of San Francisco, went on to become California’s first popularly-elected U.S. Senator. Villa Montalvo was Senator Phelan’s favorite home and a center of artistic, political and social life in Northern California. Phelan invited leading writers and artists to Villa Montalvo to work on individual artistic projects in an environment rich in dialogue and fellowship. Jack London, Ethel Barrymore, Mary Pickford, Douglass Fairbanks, and Edwin Markham were among Phelan’s many guests.

At his death, Senator Phelan was explicit in his bequest of Villa Montalvo: “I would like the property at Saratoga, California, known as Villa Montalvo, to be maintained as a public park open under reasonable restrictions, the buildings and grounds immediately surrounding the same to be used as far as possible for the development of art, literature, music, and architecture by promising students.”

In 1930, the San Francisco Art Association assumed trusteeship of Villa Montalvo and within a year announced the intention to launch an artist residency program, the third program of its kind in the United States. In 1939, the Villa reopened to the public as an arts center with 10 artists in residence and a small gallery in the Villa. In October 1953 trusteeship of the villa was turned over to the Montalvo Association.

For over 75 years, Montalvo has served the community as a center for creativity, offering art courses, performing arts events, gallery exhibitions, educational opportunities, artist residencies and more. Today, Montalvo and its arts programs serve nearly 200,000 visitors each year.

About The Lucas Artists Residency Program

The Sally and Don Lucas Artists Residency Program (LAP) is designed to offer artists from a range of disciplines an environment conducive to individual and collaborative creative practice. Seeking to stimulate an energetic exchange of ideas between culturally diverse Fellows and across varied artistic fields and scholarly disciplines, the residency has earned international recognition as a model of curatorial practice supporting the development of new and challenging contemporary work.

+ Action

Continuing our nearly 10 years of unprecedented partnership with the National Park Service and California State Parks – We Players heads north from our home in the Bay to the glory of wine country.

This summer We Players re-lives an ancient story in the eternally new land of California. The summer sun beats down on Verona streets and golden hills alike, turning up the heat on passions bloody and amorous both.

A nameless feud finds deeper resonance in the history of a land fought over in blood and taxes, by generations searching for a new home for religion, for name, for culture, for nation – a land, like Verona, ruled in the historical moment by pride and passion more than law.

And yet, the hope for peace exists. Peace found in the soft moments of blossoming love. Peace found in the undeniable presence and power of the natural world. Peace found in the faith of a Franciscan friar, devoted under a walnut tree. Peace found in the future we all dream of comes, hard-won, after too much blood is finally shed.

“Look to behold this night,
Earth-treading stars that make the dark heaven light”

– Lord Capulet

We Players Presents
The Capulet Ball

An elegant evening of performance and celebration *Tickets: $75 – $150

The Capulet Ball Event Schedule

Date: May 7, 2016 Location: The Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin, San Francisco

Date: May 14, 2016 Location: A San Anselmo private residence

Date: June 4, 2016 Location: Impact Hub Oakland

Date: June 18, 2016 Location: Castello di Amorosa, Calistoga

Sword Fights & Sandwiches

Performance, workshop, and social gathering May & June

Mask Making Salons

presentation + hands on mask making workshop March – April

Saturday March 5, 2016

Saturday March 16, 2016

Aesthetic Education Programs

In association with our rehearsal and performance process at Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park, We Players will offer workshops, talk-backs and discounted or free performance tickets to youth and community organizations.
Interested teachers should contact

to find out more. As part of our 2016 residency at the Montalvo Arts Center, We Players will offer unique site-integrated performance and educational programming to 600 middle school students in October.

Available program dates and times as follows:

Monday, October 10, 2016 at 9:30am and 11:30am
Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at 9:30am and 11:30am

Interested teachers should contact to find out more.

Photo by  Lauren Matley

Photo by Lauren Matley