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State of Wonder

Reimaginging Shakespeare Through Juliet's Nurse


All through 2014, theaters and audiences are celebrating the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth. Portland is in the midst of a Complete Works Project, which promises stagings of all the plays over a two year cycle.

Courtesy of Atria/Emily Bestler Books

But this is also the year in which Ira Glass hit a gushing vein of ambivalence - oh yeah, and set off a social media firestorm - by suggesting on Twitter that he couldn’t connect with Shakespeare’s characters and plots.

Enter Portland novelist Lois Leveen. She’s just published a new novel, Juliet’s Nurse. The book re-imagines Romeo and Juliet, from the perspective of a character typically played for laughs. 

Leveen told us she hadn’t read the play since high school when the title occurred to her. Once she started thinking about the complicated gender and class relationships in Renaissance-era Verona, and the unexplored themes of parental loss in the play, her narrative was off and running. Click the link at the top to listen to Leveen talk about developing the story.

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