Saturday, September 14, 2013

30: Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare


"One of the oldest adages about Romeo and Juliet, one which every director and every actor in the part of either lover has to tackle, is that once actors are old enough to understand the play's rhetoric they are usually too old to play the lovers' parts."

"Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight, / For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night"

It has been so long since I last posted that I have forgotten how to even put my text in line with the foto of the book cover. I have read a few books, but between teaching summer school, getting ready for the school year, and trying to enjoy the last bits of summer, I have just not felt like writing. However, last night I met Billy from fiftybooks and remembered that I had this whole plan to read and blog and y'know, it's time to get back to that. 

Romeo and Juliet is another read for the adventure of teaching freshmen. Although I've seen many stage and movie productions and studied it before, I don't think that I've ever done the whole text in its entirety. I'm still in love with the Ardens, so that was my version of choice. The introduction tells you everything you never know you needed to know about the play, from all the source material to all the variations to information about Shakespeare's boy actors ("In 'How old were Shakespeare's boy actors?', David Kathman remarks that '..all between twelve and twenty-two years old, with the normal range being roughfly thirteen to twenty-one'. Kathman notes that Richard Sharpe was between seventeen and twenty-one when he played the Duchess of Malfi and that 'The very youngest boys seem to have played only minor parts, but boys across the entire rest of the age range can be found playing demanding lead female roles" (54). <- I have always been under the apparently mistaken impression that Shakespeare's boy actors were pre-pubescent and very young). 

I don't think that there's anything to say about the plot, but what struck me most is how actually romantic it is and how gorgeous the writing is. Unfortunately, Romeo and Juliet is SUCH a worn out cliche that all of the best parts get lost. I would have loved to be able to see a really great production of it without having any ideas in my head about it - then I would probably feel all moony eyed and sighed and wonderful. As it is, it was a pleasant surprise to find all those bits. I made the unfortunate mistake of taking a few days off very near the end lost all the momentum of the play which made it a very slow and unexciting ending which tells me that I am going to have to push my students to get through it before they lose the momentum too.

Since I am now teaching at an arts school where the kids are much more familiar with plays and Shakespeare than my previous school, I'm very curious to see how it goes. I feel like I'm learning to teach all over again.

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