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'Romeo And Juliet,' Iraq Style

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LONDON -- In a new staging of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," a Baghdad theater director has transformed the Montagues and Capulets into religious rivals in war-torn Iraq.

And Monadhil Daood says he hopes his version of the play will showcase his country's rich theatrical traditions.

Daood said Wednesday that his Iraqi Theater Company is performing its adaptation of the classic tale of doomed lovers at the Swan Theater in Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of the famed English playwright.

Daood says the new staging transfers the traditional story to present day Iraq, where violence is fueled by sectarian divisions between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

The performances, which run April 26 to May 5, were commissioned by the Stratford-based Royal Shakespeare Company as part of its World Shakespeare Festival.

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