Chapter 1- Casting Calls and Cursed Dolls

Hey there! Here I am, with a new story that tells you a little about myself as well as how interaction with the people around you can make you a better person or drive you mad! Hope you like the new series: Kohona and Suna Ninja Theatre Troupe # 7, in their production of Romeo and Juliet!

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No one really planned for this to happen. No one in their right mind would have ever thought it possible, but it happened. As the shinobi of Kohona and Suna gathered before the large decrepit building, the only thing running through their heads was this: Shino, are you on crack?

No, our beloved bug boy was not on crack, but from the look of him, you would want to question if he was. He was positively giddy with happiness, because his appeal came through and it was possible to fulfill his lifelong dream: a joint theatrical troupe of shinobi from both Suna and Kohona to perform traditional and modern plays from all over the world. Whistling quietly to himself, the enigmatic young member of team eight wandered past the group of shinobi waiting at the door and pulled out an old key from his pocket. Turning to face the group, he said in a quiet but cheery voice, "Welcome to the Kohona Theatre!"

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0800 hours: Start of Auditions

Shino didn't know what first started his love of theatre and the arts, but he did know how one dark night, leafing through one of his many volumes of Shakespearean collective works, he got a small twinge of longing to bring art to his fellow shinobi. That is why there were twenty-nine miscellaneous shinobi from two villages shivering in the early morning chill, standing before him and an open door leading into a semi-run down theatre and their "unconquerable fate", as Neji put it, shivering and clutching his caramel mochachinno miserably. Shino simply shrugged and waltzed in, letting the stale smell of a good old theatre swirl about him and cause Sasuke to gag on the dust, finally remembering that he should have taken his allergy medication that morning. Naruto stood beside his teammate, blinking sleepily and clutching a takeout bag of ramen in his hand. Sakura cooed over the Uchiha heir like a worried mother hen, and Tenten stepped up to stand with Shino, facing her comrades.

"Now as you know, Shino and I put our sweat, blood and tears into getting this approved and Tsunade-san, in all her infinite wisdom, hasn't even thought about a budget yet."

"HEY!"

" So for now, we'll tell you the play is Romeo and Juliet, in case you forgot. Auditions start today, and by tomorrow we will have the cast list ready in time for our usual eight o' clock meeting here in the lobby."

"Joy," said Sasuke bitterly, still trying to recover from his near-asthma attack.

"Well, let's get started. I, as Director; and Tenten, as Stage Manager, will now introduce you to Iruka, our Producer."

Amid the sleepy clapping and yawns, Iruka stepped forward, and smiled graciously at the others. "It's wonderful to see you all here. In conjunction with my duties as Producer, I've taken the liberty of also being the costume designer. Remember folks, we're all in this together, so we have to make this work. Now, let's begin!"

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0815 hours: Sakura Haruno, Genin, Kohona, Age 13

"Okay, Sakura, just read the lines, and get it over with. It's all you."

"I know, Iruka, don't start patronizing me, or I'll get really pissed off at you."

"Just go…"

"Right."

Sakura took a deep breath, and in a tinkling little voice, she said her monologue.

"Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much, which mannerly devotion shows in this; for saints have hands that pilgrims do touch, and palm to palm is holy palmer's kiss." She turned to face Sasuke, fixing him with a stare. "Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer. Saints do not move, though grant for prayers' sake. Then have my lips the sin that they have took. You kiss by the book."

She snaps her head to face the panel. "So do I get the part?"

"We'll get back to you on that," Shino told her mildly.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"What Shino means is that we'll think about it."

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0825 hours: Sasuke Uchiha, Genin, Kohona, Age 13

"Why am I doing this again?"

"Sasuke-kun, don't you remember? You bet Naruto a thousand ryo and a free meal at Ichiraku's that you could get a better role than him."

"Right."

"Begin, Sasuke."

He fixed the panel with a soft stare, and with a slight but quietly endearing voice read:

"She speaks. O, speak again, bright angel! for thou art as glorious to this night, being o'er my head, as is a winged messenger of heaven unto the white-upturned wond'ring eyes of mortals that fall back to gaze on him when he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds and sails upon the bosom of the air."

"Tenten? Tenten?! Are you alright?"

Shino frantically shook the kunoichi on the shoulder, wondering perhaps if for a split second she was dead. But no, she had simply reeled over in shock. One could say that Sasuke had caught the elusive tomboyish weapons-mistress off-guard. His reaction? A cough, and a smirk, and he walked from the stage.

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0840 hours: Ino Yamanaka, Genin, Kohona, Age 13

"I just want you all to know that I am going to be Juliet, and Sasu-kun's going to be Romeo, and there's nothing the Abominable Forehead over there can do about it."

"INO, I SWEAR IF YOU MAKE ONE MORE CRACK ABOUT MY FOREHEAD, I'LL KILL YOU, I'LL KILL YOU, I'LL KILL YOU!"

Ino slumped, and curled up in a ball, trying to hide from Sakura. Gaara, from the middle of the line, looked at the pink-haired kunoichi sitting near him. As Ino began gibbering incoherently, he looked over, and happily exclaimed, "I love you! Thank you for finally doing that!"

Crickets chirped briefly, then Sakura looks over at him. "That's the nicest thing any boy has ever said to me. Thanks, Gaara!"

"I do what I can."

Ino composed herself, and began in an overly loud and obnoxiously overplayed voice:

"Romeo, o Romeo!…"

"NEXT!"

Tenten had been revived, and was furiously shaking Shino by the collar of his jacket, sobbing, "For the love of God, please send in the next one! I BEG OF YOU!!!"

Ino blinked.

"You could have just said no…"

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0845 hours: Sabaku no Temari, Genin, Suna, Age 15

"Now old desire doth in his deathbed lie, and young affection gapes to be his heir. That fair for which love groaned for and would die, with tender Juliet matched, is now not fair."

"Good so far…" said Shino quietly.

"Yes, quite good…" replied Tenten.

"Did I remember to turn off the stove," wondered Iruka aloud.

"Now Romeo is beloved, and loves again, alike bewitched by the charm of looks; but to his foe supposed he must complain,…"

"Okay, that's enough."

"Are you sure? I don't think I messed up, I could go on longer…"

"No, dear, it's fine."

"Iruka-sama, are you sure?"

"Positive."

"Alright. Kanky-kun, I want my fan back, now!"

"HOW MANY TIMES MUST I TELL YOU, WOMAN?! DON'T CALL ME THAT!"

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1000 hours: Break for breakfast

"I still have dust up my nose," said Sasuke with a sniff.

"Aw, has 'oo got da snuffoo's?"

"Naruto, don't ever patronize me, because I do not appreciate being talked to like a small child or an infant."

"Sorry, Sasuke."

With the Sand-Sibs…

"Gaara, you have a bit of dust on your face…"

"Temari, it's…"

"Just let me..."

"No…"

"Just give me a sec…"

"No…"

"GAARA…"

"TEMARI…"

"KANKURO!"

Insert sweat drop here…

"What? Can't I say my name too?"

Jaraiya, who was joined by the male Sand-Sibs, was recounting one of his exploits to Kakashi.

"..and so I asked him, 'Eh, Ibiki, where's your good sake gone?' And if you can believe it, the great interrogator goes and says, 'Some teme's gone and stolen it all. Hey, Jaraiya, where'd you get that bottle of sake from? Can I buy it?' and the baka goes and buys back all of his own sake!"

Kakashi, Kankuro, and Gaara burst out laughing. Temari and Tsunade stared at them disgustedly.

"We really don't need to hear of your 'adventures', Jaraiya."

"Eh, I know, Tsunade. But really, I wasn't doing anything wrong, because he'd lifted that sake from the basement of a feudal lord, so really, I was doing everyone a public service."

"I don't know where you learned right from wrong, but I think you skipped a few crucial lessons."

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1100 hours: Kiba Inuzuka and Hinata Hyuuga, Genin, Kohona, Age 13

"M-my fan, Peter."

"Good Peter, to hide her face; for the fan's the fairest of the two."

"NO, YOU BLOODY IDIOT! The line is 'Good Peter, to hide her face; for her fan's the fairer of the two'!"

"Sorry Hinata, please now, Hinata, put down the dangerous weapon…"

Hinata was shaking in anger, rolling the script into a tube, and looking as though she wanted to hit him over the head with it. This was the sixth time they had to repeat the lines exchanged between Mercutio and the Nurse in Act II, scene four, and Kiba had yet to recite the first line correctly.

"Hinata, this isn't even proper grammar, how do you expect me to read it?!"

"THE GRAMMAR'S PERFECTLY FINE, KIBA! YOU JUST DIDN'T PRACTICE LIKE I TOLD YOU TO, DID YOU?! IF I TOLD YOU ONCE, I'VE TOLD YOU A THOUSAND TIMES: YOU SUCK, KIBA!!! I can't work like this."

She turned to face the panel, who had their mouths agape in pure shock. "I'm sorry, but I REALLY need a bubble bath…"

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1200 hours: Neji Hyuuga, Genin, Kohona, Age 14

It had been nearly seven auditions, where no one showed any particular promise in anything that they had seen. The only people of any merit were Shika and Choji. Tenten was ready to pull an Itachi and slaughter everyone in the theatre, Shino was in dire need of a good strong cup of black coffee, and Iruka was popping Advil like they were Junior Mints. Iruka looked at the list and promptly spit out the herbal tea he was drinking.

"Iruka-sensei, are you okay?"

"I'm just making sure my eyes aren't playing some cruel joke on me…"

"Who's next?"

Iruka blinked for the billionth time, checked to make sure he wasn't wrong, then said, "Hyuuga Neji, please take the stage."

Neji stomped up the ramp, which made a pained squeak of protest. He shot a death glare toward it, and sulked his way to center stage.

"Neji-kun! So glad to see you made it!"

"I hate you."
"Aw, Neji! That's no way to treat a teammate!"

"Damn you, damn the world, and damn Martha Stuart."

"Who's this 'Martha'? Neji, have you been sneaking behind my back?!"

"Why would you say that?! We weren't even going out!"

Everyone had their eyes glued to the two teammates, heads looking from one to the other as though it were a heated ping pong match, staring from one screaming Genin to the other. (A/N: Have you noticed how everyone uses the tennis match simile but no one uses ping pong? How sad…)

"So we had spent that incredible night together, and you don't even call me back? I hate you, Hyuuga Neji! I hate you!"

"See there, you're twisting my words around! That is why I never asked you out!"

"So you only came to try out for the play to torture me, did you! Well, tough luck pal!"

"I wouldn't even be here if it weren't for that…" he began.

Shino looked up, curiosity piqued. "If it weren't for what, Neji?"

"Nothing, I didn't say anything! What picture? I said absolutely nothing about a picture! What are you talking about?! WHAT DO YOU KNOW?!" the deranged young Hyuuga gave a hysterical little laughing fit lasting for about three minutes, then composed himself.

"Right, then… Begin."

"And since that time it is eleven years, for then she could stand alone; nay, by the rood, she could have run and waddled all about; for even the day before, she broke her brow; and then my husband (God be with his soul! 'A was a merry man) took up the child. 'Yea,' quoth he, 'dost thou fall upon thy face? Thou wilt fall backward when thou has more wit, will thou not, Jule?'" He turned to face the panel, who were giving him very disturbed looks. "And, by my holidam, the pretty wench left crying, and said 'Ay.' To see now how a jest shall come about! I warrant, an I should live a thousand years, I shall never forget it. 'Wilt thou not, Jule?' quoth he, and pretty fool, it stinted, and said 'Ay.'"

Now, as any of you with any Shakespearean background knows, the Nurse was making a joke about how Juliet was to, well, lose her virginity, to put it lightly, hence the weird looks the panel, the Sand-Sibs, and several of the elders and team seven were shooting at him. Neji of course had no idea of the meaning of what he just said, he was just reading.

"NEJI! YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU JUST REFFERED TO, DO YOU?!"

"No, I was just reading!"

"You just referred to a woman having sex!"

"Again, I don't know what those lines mean, okay?!"

"GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!!!"

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1500 hours: Sabaku no Gaara, Genin, Suna, Age 13

Okay, so the past three hours had sent them Gai and Lee being complete goof balls onstage; Kakashi saying Romeo's famous speech to Iruka, causing Tenten to berate the Chuunin for info; and Jaraiya and Tsunade's fairly good performance of Mercutio's and Benvolio's speech in the orchard. The panel, comprised of Simon, Paula, and… wait, wrong show. The panel were all ready to either kill the entire troupe (Tenten), in need of some extremely strong coffee (Shino), or popping pills like so many chocolate covered peanuts (Iruka).

"Okay next is…" Shino choked and began to gag on his own saliva. Tenten whomped him on the back, and the bug user could breathe, albeit in short gasps. He blinked several billion times, just to check that his eyes were not off in Rwanda, committing suicide in the civil war.

"Well, who's next?"

Shino gulped, and turned to face the troupe. "Sabaku no Gaara, will you please take the stage?"

"Hn."

Gaara stepped up the ramp, causing just a mere groan from the tired wood. Sweeping his way center stage, he cleared his throat and began to act. Not recite, oh no: act.

"O, then I see Queen Mab hath been with you. She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes in shape no bigger than an agate stone on the forefinger of an alderman, drawn with a team of little antomies athwart men's noses as they lie asleep; her wagon spokes made of long spinners' legs, the cover, of the wings of grasshoppers; her traces, of the smallest spider's web; her collars, of the moonshine's wat'ry beams; her whip, of cricket's bone; the lash, of film; her wagoner, a small grey-coated gnat, not half so big as a round little worm pricked from the lazy finger of a maid; her chariot is an empty hazelnut, made by the joiner squirrel or old grub, time out o' mind the fairies' coachmakers."

He turned to face Sasuke, Naruto, and Neji, who had sat to patiently wait out the day, until Naruto went.

"And in this state she gallops night by night, through lovers' brains, and they dream of love; o'er courtiers' knees, that dream on curtsies straight; o'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees; o'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream, which oft of the angry Mab with blisters plagues, because their breath with sweetmeats tainted are. Sometimes she gallops o'er a courtiers' nose, and then dreams he of smelling out a suit, and sometime comes she with a tithe-pig's tail tickling a person's nose as 'a lies asleep, then dreams he of another benefree. Sometimes she driveth o'er a soldier's neck, and then dreams he of cutting foreign throats, of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades, of healths five fathoms deep; and then anon drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes, and being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two and sleeps again. This is that very Mab that plaits the manes of horses in the night and bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs, which once untangled much misfortune bodes." He began to get really into it now, seemingly on the verge of a rant. Everyone stared at the soon-to-be-Kazekage, wondering if this was the same Gaara they all knew or just some stranger they had never met. "This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs, that presses them and learns them first to bear, making them women of good carriage. This is she- True, I talk of dreams; which are the children of an idle brain, begot of nothing but vain fantasy; which is as thin a substance as the air, and more inconstant than the wind, who woos even now the frozen bosom of the North and, being angered, puff away from thence, turning his face to the dew-dropping South."

Silence. Stunned silence. True, the speech was good for him, but the acting was very good indeed. It was, however, nothing compared to what came next.

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1530 hours: Naruto Uzumaki, Genin, Kohona, Age 13

"Okay, who's up next?"

"Out of the twenty-five odd people we saw? Naruto Uzumaki, please take the stage."

Naruto walked up the ramp, still a bit sleepy after the big ramen lunch he'd eaten. Everyone's eyes were on him.

"Begin!"

He flipped opened the playbook, clearing his throat. "I am hurt...A plague o' both your houses! I am sped. Is he gone, and hath nothing...Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch; marry, 'tis enough..." He clutched his side, pretending he was bleeding, his face contorting to give a pained but happy smile. "No...'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door; but 'tis enough, 'twill serve...Ask for me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man." He laughed painfully, face now contorted into a frown. "I am peppered...I, warrant, for this world. A plague o' both your houses! 'Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a cat...to scratch a man to death..." He took a deep breath, pretending to be suffering, doing a very good job of it, might I add. "A braggart! A rogue, a villain, that fights by the book of arithmetic!" He hitched his breath. "Why the devil you came between us? I was hurt under your arm..."

Cue the stunned silence. The panel went completely quiet. Even Akamaru stopped his barking. All around, there soon came enthusiastic applause. Naruto gave a grin, and bowed low. He then left the stage.

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1600 hours: Sabaku no Kankuro, Genin, Suna, Age 14

Kankuro took the stage, and pulled out Kurasu. He then attatched his chakra strings, and began.

"Gregory, oh my word, we'll not carry coals," said Kankuro, manipulating the puppet's mouth like a ventriloquist. Kurasu suddenly turned his head in a complete three-sitxty and began to wrap its hands around him.

"Gaara, what did you do to my puppet?! It's choking me!"

With a scream, Kankuro ran, the puppet still attempting to kill him. Chuckling quietly to himself, Gaara detached his own chakra from the puppet and smiled.

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That's the first chapter! I hope you review lots!