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UnDisciplined: Romeo and Juliet — an age-old tale of love, death and pandemics

Shakespeare is constantly being reinvented with contemporary interpretations intended to offer modern relevance. So it's probably not surprising that a contagious outbreak, masks, and simmering anger over lockdowns are at the center of some new productions of Romeo and Juliet. Except those aren't actually new elements. This play has always been about life in a pandemic.

Isabel Smith-Bernstein is a dramaturge with the Utah Shakespeare Festival, which this year is staging four Shakespeare works — Timon of Athens, Coriolanus, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Romeo and Juliet. The festival runs through early October and you can learn more about those plays and the other being staged in Cedar City at

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Matthew LaPlante has reported on ritual infanticide in Northern Africa, insurgent warfare in the Middle East, the legacy of genocide in Southeast Asia, and gang violence in Central America. But a few years back, something donned on him: Maybe the news doesn't have to be brutally depressing all the time. Today, he balances his continuing work on more heartbreaking subjects by writing books about the intersection of science, human health and society, including the New York Times best-selling <i>Lifespan</i> with geneticist David Sinclair and the Nautilus Award-winning <i>Longevity Plan</i> with cardiologist John Day. His first solo book, <i>Superlative</i>, looks at what scientists are learning by studying organisms that have evolved in record-setting ways, and his is currently at work on another book about embracing the inevitability of human-caused climate change with an optimistic outlook on the future.<br/>