From the time she was a young girl, Victoria Tucci dreamed about moving to New York City and pursuing a career in theater.
As she grew a little older, the Apex native developed a strong interest in politics and social justice.
Now, the 27-year-old actress has found the perfect format to combine her nearly lifelong passion for the stage and her desire to speak out on important issues.
Tucci will present her production of “Romeo and Juliet: Forbidden Love Comes to North Carolina” March 14-17 at the Common Ground Theatre in Durham.
Although the play will adhere closely to the classical version of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, there will be a new twist. Both Romeo and Juliet are played by women and the cast will consist of gay, straight and transgender actors.
The show, which already played in New York, will include a “talk back” session between the crowd and actors following the last scene.
Tucci is bringing the production to North Carolina to serve as an education and advocacy campaign against the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the state.
The idea came to her after visiting family in Apex shortly after the legislation passed to put the amendment on the ballot.
“I began thinking about what I could do,” said Tucci. “I have always been very interested in social justice theater. I recently saw a modern musical of Romeo and Juliet and started thinking about it. I wanted to keep the original text but have two women (in the lead roles). I called a friend with my idea and she was very supportive.”
Tucci is both producing the show and playing the lead role of Romeo. The task has consumed so much of her time that she has taken a break from her full-time job in a catering company.
“I’ve had to quit my day job, much to the worry of my parents,” laughed Tucci. “There have been days when I thought, ‘what did I get myself into?’ But then you get some good feedback or have a great rehearsal and it keeps you going. Of course, once this ends I’m going to have to work very hard at my full-time job to pay off all my bills.”
Tucci graduated from Apex High School in 2004 before earning a degree in theater studies from Elon University. She has been living in New York City the past four years where she graduated from the Circle in the Square Theatre School.
“I’ve wanted to come to New York City since I was four years old,” said Tucci. “My friends in Apex always tell me that it’s crazy that I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do. They can remember when I was a little girl saying I would be an actress in New York.”
By the time Tucci reached New York, she had already become deeply interested in social equality.
“I’ve always wanted social justice to be a part of my work and life,” said Tucci. “My first priority with Romeo and Juliet is to tell a great story. I also want to tell how the amendment (against same-sex marriage) would affect all people, both straight and gay.”
Tucci understands that tackling such a controversial issue will certainly bring some negative feedback. Yet, with the strong support of family and friends, she feels confident she made the right decision.
“It wouldn’t surprise me to have some negative reactions,” said Tucci. “A number of people have asked me about it and I’m really not sure what to expect. But so far there has been a tremendous amount of interest and support for the show from people in North Carolina.
“Even if you don’t agree with us I would still urge people to come see the show and participate in the talk back session. We want people to discuss this issue and all opinions are important to us.”
For more information about the show visit www.romeoandjulietinnc.com.