top of page


A 30-minute short film created for the video series "Unmediated & Reframed"

A spoken word adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, set in modern-day Muskegon Heights

Written by William Kitchen and Kerri VanderHoff

More about Rome & Julissa



William Kitchen was born in Muskegon Heights, and brings his life experience and hard-earned insight to his writing and speaking engagements. For Rome & Julissa, he reimagines the timeless story of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet and sets it in the modern day city of Muskegon Heights, Michigan, adapting the classic story into this powerful spoken word version of two star-crossed lovers caught in the crossfire of generational conflict and revenge.

Kerri VanderHoff is a professor of film at Grand Valley State University and executive director of Coalition for Community Development in Muskegon Heights. Her input on Rome & Julissa during the writing process helped contextualize the heart and soul of the original story into the condensed format of the finished work that will be produced here in the Heights.

This short film includes the following roles:

The SOUTHERN family & friends


ROME: our teenage main character, more interested in romance than in fighting


SOUTHERN: Patriarch of the powerful Southern Family (Rome’s father) holding a longtime grudge against the Humes


MERCUTIO: close friend of Rome, kind of a tough dude on the streets but also good-naturedly teases Rome in a close friend kind of way, especially about him falling in love


BENNY: Southern’s nephew and friend to Rome, he is a peacekeeper type, low-key


LITTLE HOMIES: Ages 6-12 (about 3-4 needed for one scene)

The HUME family & friends


JULISSA: our teenage main character, she would like to be in charge of her own destiny


HUME: Patriarch of the powerful Hume family, Julissa’s father, holding a longtime grudge against the Southerns


NYAH: longtime friend of Hume family, Julissa trusts and confides in her


TY:  Julissa’s cousin, hot-headed


PARIS: wealthy bachelor, wants to marry Julissa


LITTLE HOMIES: Ages 6-12 (about 3-4 needed for one scene)

NEUTRAL community members


PRINCE: Most respected, most wise and powerful, he wants to keep the peace over the entire place


PASTOR LAWRENCE: He is saddened by all the feuding and sincerely tries to help where he can.


PASTOR JOHN: A colleague of Pastor Lawrence, from a nearby city, isn't too reliable


bottom of page