On Thursday, the Public Theater and WNYC Studios debut Romeo y Julieta — a bilingual reimagining of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.

Director Saheem Ali and playwright Ricardo Pérez González adapted the new Spanish-English audio version of the romantic tragedy from world renowned Mexican scholar Alfredo Michel Modenessi's Spanish translation.

“Español es la lengua del amor for me,” Ali told Gothamist/WNYC. Ali who grew up in a bilingual household, speaking English and Swahili said, “The passion, and the joy, and the vitality really comes across.”

The play stars Juan Castano as Romeo and Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o as Julieta. Ali met Nyong’o, who is a Mexican-born Kenyan, when they both starred in the play as teenagers. They have been talking about returning to the material, ever since.

“Because we first met many years ago doing a production of Romeo and Juliet in Kenya,” Ali said. “She was Julieta at 14 years old and I was Mercutio at [about] 19.”

Romeo y Julieta flows between the two languages, sometimes mid-sentence, and the cast is fully bilingual.

“I really had to pay attention to not just the emotional quality of the language and how it kind of lived in me, but also the rhythms of the two languages — how they fit together,” said Pérez González. “And we were able to blend it in a way that was a beautiful rhythm shift at times rather than a clash.”

On Thursday at 7 p.m., the Greene Space will hold a listening party and talkback with Saheem Ali, Lupita Nyong’o, Juan Castano, and Alfredo Michel Modenessi. Click here for free tickets for the virtual event.

Disclosure: New York Public Radio is the parent company of Gothamist, WNYC, and WNYC studios.