This week, we students of Alexandria Park Community School are taking over! Thanks to Foxtel and AIME mentoring we had the chance to see Romeo And Juliet at the Sydney Opera House and had a chat with the director and the actors afterwards. It was an amazing show and we felt really lucky to get the chance to meet them. In the lesson following the excursion, we wrote some blog articles for the Meet The Players blog – check them out! If you have questions for The Players, don’t forget to send them through to email@example.com ahead of their Live-Streamed Q&A tomorrow afternoon! #BehindtheBalcony 🙂
How were visual and sound techniques used to add depth to the production?
When the dagger jabbed into Juliet’s heart, darkness and a tragic melody fell upon the stage.
On Monday the 3rd of August, Alexandria Park Community School and other schools had the pleasure to see the play Romeo and Juliet directed by James Evans. The theatrical play was one of the best we have seen while in school and not just because of the acting but the amount of effort placed put into the use of visual and sound effects. The visual effects within the play were astonishing, the way the lights changed colour and tone really set the theme for the scene. The way they effectively used the panels incorporated within the set also brought the play to life. Romeo and Juliet’s families were also distinguished by the colours they wore, Romeo wore blue and Juliet wore red. The sound, also incorporated with the lights, brought an atmospheric level of depth into the scene. When a sad and depressing scene entered the stage, the music changed to a sad score, whilst when a happy scene came on, the music changed to a happy score. The score made and tailored for this play was incredible and no one would want it to change. Overall the visual and sound effects of this play is what really brought the atmospheric depth to this theatrical play.
By Igor Andonov, Alix Guo, Jason Lam and Charles Zheng
How did the modern representation of the play assist your understanding?
The modern representation of Romeo and Juliet has assisted us greatly in understanding the play.
Since the original Romeo and Juliet play was originated about 400 years ago, it was hard for us to understand the use of language. However, by making a modern representation of the play, it helped us to understand the plot of the story much more.
It helped us by being able to associate with the actors by understanding their choices of clothing and the props that were used. The use of modern music made it easier to set the mood of how you should be feeling.
The set was unique because most stages are generally flat and fairly large, however this was small and had only one big stair-like object and the set was able to represent different scenes at the same time. This was a smart choice, as it didn’t over complicate the play.
By Fuad Ferdous, Dayu Huang and Wesley Darmawangsa
How did the modern representation of the play assist your understanding?
The modern interpretation of Romeo and Juliet helped me to understand a lot of things in a lot of ways through the use of humour, lighting and sound, and props and costumes.
The modern humour in the play helped me relate to the play and the characters because in the beginning of the play I had no idea what was going on due to the old language being used. Eventually I got used to it and everything became amusing, though.
The visual and sound effects made a big impact on the presentation of the play too. The use of stairs on the stage was a very clever concept and enhanced the experience of watching Romeo and Juliet. I liked how they didn’t use conventional props, instead using random household items like a crowbar, screwdriver, pole, etc.
The lighting and music choices gave some scenes a sense of drama or sadness and it helped convey emotion very well. Not only this, but the song choices were very modern and really did help the audience relate to the mood being displayed.
Something I found interesting was the costume choices for the play. The characters were dressed in casual clothes you’d see today on the street, as opposed to big formal dresses and fancy suits. For me, this sort of brought the play further into the present and made watching it really captivating.
All in all, I can’t deny that it was a great spin off of a classic and I would watch it again if presented with the chance. Great job James!
By Nicola Ross
What did you think of the use of humour in the play?
The use of humour in Romeo and Juliet gives it a modern twist that is relatable for many people in this day and age. Although the original plays main focus was on the tragedy and romance but the audience received a shock at the light humour used in the play.
The most humorous character that we could relate the most to would be Mercutio as he teased the love sick Romeo about his relationship with Rosaline. Benvolio is his partner in crime and goes along with his antics. Benvolio is more toned down than Mercutio but still provides occasional laughter to the audience.
For people who haven’t seen different variations of Romeo and Juliet, usually stereotype the play to be morbid but this particular version of Romeo and Juliet defies all these stereotypes.
In conclusion the humour found in this specific play shows that humour can be incorporated into a romantic tragedy.
By Judie Wang, Shara Haque and Raisa Raihan
How are gender roles portrayed throughout the story of Romeo And Juliet and the Bell Shakespeare production?
Gender roles are often defined by what your genitalia are. In the past, if you were considered a woman, you would be considered a lower priority and be shown as the weaker side compared to men. This is proven in the story of Romeo and Juliet.
In the story and play, Juliet was supposed to be married off to a noble figure against her will, as that’s how women were expected to live – be married at a young age, give birth, and carry down the family line. Especially at Juliet’s age, 14, she has absolutely no freedom or choice of her own, whereas with men, they were allowed to have a will of their own and choose their own future. Since Juliet refused to marry Paris, her parents nearly disowned her.
In the past, men performed women’s roles in Shakespeare’s plays. Women in the past were not expected and not allowed to get involved in society`s work industry and business. For example, in marriage, men were expected to rule over their wives, and all property belonged to them. Men were the primary wage earners, while women were expected to be primarily responsible for housework and childcare. It was evident throughout the play that the king and men had the most say over major decisions.
Therefore, Romeo and Juliet accurately represents gender roles throughout that time period and the actors carried out these roles amazingly with emotion and confidence.
By Angela Fu, Anneliese Ho, Shanna Yan and Elaine Zhong
What did you learn from the story of Romeo and Juliet?
Romeo and Juliet is a play made by William Shakespeare about two families that opposed each other. Even though Romeo and Juliet were not of the same family they still loved each other, this lead to a series of tragedy and loss for both sides.
We learned that in the past, women had almost no rights and were not really cared for because in the play, Juliet was forced to marry someone she didn’t like, when her true love was Romeo. “You will marry Count Paris whether you like it or not” quoted by Capulet, Juliet’s father. This shows that in the past women had close to no rights and were forced to marry whoever their parents wanted.
You also learn that patience is key. If Romeo had just waited for a while longer, neither of them would have had to die and they may have been able to escape to another land and live happy lives away from the war raging on between the two families. However, because of Romeo’s impatience, he lost not only his own life but also his most loved one. If he had just waited a while longer, this story may not have had to be a tragic one but a joyous story with a happy ending.
These are some of the many things that everyone could’ve learned from the play of Romeo and Juliet. It has taught me many important lessons and could teach someone else even more.
By Kerry Qian, Robin Bhetwal and Kevin Gao
I first saw Romeo and Juliet in primary school. My friends and I watched the Baz Lurhmann film version at a sleepover. Everyone was obsessed with Leonardo DiCaprio and none of us knew how the story ended. So you can imagine our heartbreak when the credits started rolling and we realised there would be no happy ending for the young lovers. Maybe if we’d focused more on the language and less on how dreamy Leo looked, we’d have realized that from the very start of the play, Shakespeare tells us that Romeo and Juliet don’t get to sail off into the sunset together. Which leads me to answer a big fat YES to this week’s question. And here’s why.
You know, that bit at the start of the play where we pretty much get told repeatedly that Romeo and Juliet are both going to die:
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life,
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows;
Doth with their death bury their parents strife.
The fearful passage of their death-marked love;
And the continuance of their parents’ rage,
Which but their children’s end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage….
Pretty clear, isn’t it? Look at those adjectives used to describe Roms and Jules! Star-crossed – meaning ill-fated, literally crossed or opposed by the stars. Misadventured – referring to bad fortune. Fate and death are introduced from the word go. Romeo and Juliet’s love is “marked by death” from the beginning.
Both Romeo and Juliet experience moments of foreboding where they intuit the tragedy that lies ahead of them. Early in the play, as Romeo prepares to attend the party where he will meet Juliet for the first time, he says:
…For my mind misgives
Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
With this night’s revels and expire the term
Of a despised life closed in my breast
By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
Somehow, Romeo knows that this night is significant. Something big is about to happen and it’s going to lead to his death. But he pulls a Taylor Swift (shakes it off) and heads to the party anyway. Then later in the play, after R & J have gotten married and spent their first night together, as Romeo is leaving, Juliet suddenly says:
O God, I have an ill-divining soul!
Methinks I see thee, now thou art so low,
As one dead in the bottom of a tomb:
Either my eyesight fails or thou look’st pale.
Less than 48 hours later, this image is exactly what Juliet is met with when she awakens in the Capulet’s vault and finds Romeo dead by her side.
The Friar, along with Nurse, helps Romeo and Juliet. But he also constantly expresses unease at the startling speed and lack of moderation with which the lovers carry out their whirlwind romance. He – quite rightly – worries that tragedy could ensue and warns Romeo several times, like here:
These violent delights have violent ends,
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume.
The crazy fast and intense way that Romeo and Juliet fall in love makes the Friar nervous, and it also has a supernatural quality to it, a sense of idea of predestination, fate – whatever you want to call it. Some power beyond any human control that decided these two young people would meet, marry and die within a matter of days. It doesn’t matter what they or those who love them do to try and change things, their fate is sealed. And this is exactly what the Friar discovers at the play’s conclusion:
A greater power than we can contradict
Hath thwarted our intents.
The Friar hoped R & J’s love could mean reconciliation between their warring families. He was close. It is in fact their deaths that “bury their parent’s strife.” Were the young lovers always fated to be a necessary sacrifice to finally bring about peace? Are their deaths a divine punishment handed out to both Capulets and Montagues for all the trouble and discord they have caused?
Despite all this, the magic of the play is that even knowing all of the above, even hearing all the warnings and references to fate and the stars, Shakespeare still gets us sitting in our seats hoping and wishing that somehow things could be okay after all. That Romeo might be able to “defy the stars.” That the timing should work out. That love will defy fate and there will be a happy ending after all. Which there so very, very nearly is.
In the prologue of the play, William “Spoiler-alert” Shakespeare tells the audience that Romeo and Juliet love passionately and then take their lives. From the very beginning, love and death are closely linked.
In English, we have only one word for this indefinably large topic of love; whether you are referring to your cat, your brother, your girlfriend or that delicious plate of nachos. Similarly, the indefinably large topic of death is irreverently mentioned in our everyday life; my phone died, I died laughing, my dog died, I would have died if he’d seen me. In this play, Shakespeare uses these two words with a range of meanings and they are closely linked. Here are a few examples of ways that LOVE AND DEATH are linked in the play.
In Romeo’s very first scene, he says he is dead because Rosaline (his love) is not reciprocating his feelings (1). Bit of an exaggeration there. After Juliet first kisses Romeo at the party, she tells her nurse that she will stay forever single and die alone if she can’t have him as her husband (2). There is risk of death even having Romeo visit Juliet at her balcony (3). Death is love’s obstacle for these two characters from the start. They were certainly going to struggle for a happy ending.
Mercutio, Benvolio and Romeo are best buddies among the Montague clan. They would do anything for each other. The fight that takes place when Tybalt interferes with this bromance is not only the death of Mercutio but the death of trust, a friendship group, a cousin and a best mate. At the same time, it is the beginning of the end. It is Romeo’s love for Mercutio that drives him to seek revenge. In his reactive rage, Romeo tells Tybalt that they must fight until one or both of them are dead (4). He wasn’t lying.
In the family:
Tybalt’s murder is painful for his tightly knit Capulet family. They loved him dearly and Lady Capulet begs the death sentence for Romeo in retaliation for Tybalt’s murder. Lady Cap then tells Juliet that she plans to have Romeo murdered not knowing that Juliet has married him the day before (5). Although Juliet’s nurse has lost her best friend in Tybalt, she continues to help the lovers meet up that night because of her love for Juliet. Love is complicated right?
Sure, the Capulets and Montagues become Facebook friends at the end of the play and the riff is resolved but wasn’t there another possible outcome? What drove these characters to such extremity? I think Shakespeare wanted us to talk about the link between love and death and maybe that’s why this play is still so popular. These topics need discussing as much now as they did 420 years ago… and here we are. Go Shakespeare!
(1) Romeo: “She hath foresworn to love; and it that vow do I live dead that live to tell it now.”
(2) Juliet: “Go, ask his name – If he be married, my grave is like to be my wedding bed”
(3) Juliet: “the place death if any of my kinsmen find thee here”
(4) Romeo “Either thou, or I, or both must go with him”
(5) Lady Capulet: “I’ll send to one in Mantua, where that same banish’d runagate doth live, shall give him such an unaccomstom’d dram that he shall soon keep Tybalt company.”
Mercutio (or Merc) as we’ve been calling him in the rehearsal room, has been called many things in his time. But that’s another story for another time. Today we’re talking about his role in Romeo and Juliet, what purpose he plays, and we’ll talk a little bit about what type of person he is – and how his actions impact those around him.
I thought that before we go into the main question, I might kick things off trying to unpack Mercutio’s personality, or character traits – based on what’s given to us in the text by Shakespeare, as well as one or two other sources before Shakespeare’s time.
Mercutio name appeared in the 1530 ‘Giulietta e Romeo‘ by Luigi Da Porto as ‘Marcuccio Guercio’ . By the time William Shakespeare came to write his version of Romeo and Juliet in 1597, he’d anglicised the characters’ names from the original Italian text – and thus Mercutio was born. In Da Porto’s text he was actually Romeo’s rival, because they both wanted to marry Juliet. He was said by Da Porto to ‘be a lion among lambs’ and to have an ‘ice-cold hand’. But that’s also another story for another time.
Shakespeare may have taken this idea about cold hands and extended on it because people have since associated Mercutio with the word Mercurial i.e. having unpredictable moods or behaviour. At Mercutio’s hottest we see him cursing love, dreams, ambitions and most notably, the Montagues and Capulets. At his coolest, we see him making inappropriate jokes, flirting with Juliet’s Nurse and trying to make his mates laugh. We see him change from one to the other often very quickly. He’s shown as being very skeptical of the things Romeo stands for, and it’s pretty quickly noticed that while him and Romeo are best mates, they’re also polar opposites. What ties him and Romeo and together though is probably their wit, they’re always talking in riddles and wordplay to try and outsmart each other. Mercutio is also shown to be pretty flippant about feelings, relationships and the more sensitive subjects raised by Romeo. He is shown to be a class clown figure, rejecting norms and living in a self-decided freedom. It’s also important to remember that Merc is not actually a Montague or a Capulet – but is related to the Prince of Verona as well as (The County) Paris, which possibly adds to his carefree and licentious behaviour.
This is a very, very, very brief character summary but I feel as though I should answer the question – or else I’ll never get to it.
As a dramatic device in the play – Mercutio operates as Romeo’s foil. He’s the opposite in every way. Writers often put in a foil character to more clearly define the morals and characteristics of the lead character – but also to offer some lightness to the dilemmas the lead may be going through. We see this constantly in Mercutio’s scenes with Romeo. Romeo complains to Mercutio and Benvolio about being in love with Rosaline (a girl we never see) and Mercutio tells him very crudely that what he’s feeling isn’t love or romance but instead, a more sexual urge. So in this instance, Mercutio’s purpose is to deter Romeo from pursuing love – which builds up Romeo’s momentum to pursue love – which ends in disaster.
This is furthered in Mercutio’s ‘Queen Mab’ soliloquy – when he creates an entire imaginary world and then destroys it – just to prove to Romeo that dreams and love are worthless, meaningless things. Merc counterpoints Romeo perfectly – he uses language that appeals to Romeo to entice him into the story, but then flips it on its head and makes his point that ‘dreams… are the children of an idle brain’.
Through his next scene with Benvolio when they’re drunkenly calling out at Romeo – Mercutio makes some very lewd and objectifying comments towards Rosaline. This functions in two ways, the first being that even though they are supposedly best friends, Merc and Benvolio don’t even know that Romeo is out of love with Rosaline and in love with Juliet – which could say something about the trust levels between Romeo and Merc (especially after all the crude comments Merc has made in previous scenes). The second way it functions is in commenting on how Mercutio perceives women in contrast to Romeo. Mercutio objectifies Rosaline – talking about various body parts in a menacing way, whereas in the next scene Romeo uses some of the most well known Romantic language to describe Juliet.
The next time we see Mercutio – he’s in a jovial mood, making fun of Tybalt, flirting inappropriately with the Nurse and generally being a fool. But it’s really the scene after this one that most states Mercutio’s purpose (dramatically) in the play. It shows Mercutio and Benvolio hanging out on a hot day – when they come across Tybalt, who’s looking for Romeo. This is where we see Mercutio’s fatal flaw or hubris which ultimately results in his death.
We’ve already established that he switches between hot and cold in an instant – and we see that in this scene, except he doesn’t cool down til the very end… And then heats up again…And then cools down, for good. The sight of Tybalt makes his blood boil and he’s instantly keen to fight him – then Romeo comes in and tries to make peace, which makes Mercutio even more fired up – because Tybalt is insulting Romeo but Romeo isn’t putting up a fight. So Merc fights Tybalt and then gets cut because Romeo is in the way. He proceeds to joke and laugh as he normally does about the cut – until it’s too late and he realises he’s going to die. It’s at this point that he says the most damning words that make this scene the turning point of the play.
‘A plague o‘ both your houses’
So Mercutio’s parting words serve to foreshadow the tragedy that takes place later on in the play – starting first with Tybalt’s death, then Romeo’s banishment – and then the death of the lovers. As soon as Mercutio’s gone – everything takes a turn for the worse. If that isn’t dramatic function and purpose in the plot – i don’t know what is !
Hope y’all are enjoying your break !
Yes! I think Romeo & Juliet’s love is absolutely real!
I know what you’re thinking: “Hang on. Romeo and Juliet meet, fall in love, get married, and die within four days. How can you fall in love in such a short time?”
I think in order to answer this question, we need to have a look at how we define love. This is not an easy assignment. Even when looking at dictionary definitions, love is a hard concept to define succinctly. One definition is “a strong feeling of affection”, another one is “a feeling of warm personal attachment, as for a parent child or friend”. The problem is that there are many different forms of love, and that we all experience these emotions in different ways and with varying intensity.
At the end of the day, it comes back to personal opinion. Shakespeare isn’t here to ask, and even if he were, I’m not sure that he would have the answer. This is the beauty of art. It is about interpretation.
However, when making up your mind, there is really only one place to look for evidence, and that is within the text.
Here are some clues:
Romeo and Juliet confess their love to each other in the famous balcony scene.
When Juliet asks Romeo what satisfaction he can have tonight, he replies:
Th’ exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine.
To which Juliet replies:
I gave thee mine before thou didst request it.
So it’s clear that the pair believe that they are in love. And who are we to argue?
I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t Romeo in love with another chick at the beginning of the play?” Fair point. However, since taking on the role of Romeo, I have looked into this, and formed my own theory. I think Romeo’s feelings towards Rosaline, when we first meet him, are ones of lust, not love. I think he is looking for love. He is a passionate teenager who desperately wants to fall in love so that he can escape the violence that plagues Verona. The way that Romeo talks about Rosaline; however, indicates that he is more interested in being physical with her, than he is in love.
When discussing Rosaline with his cousin Benvolio, Benvolio asks:
And she hath sworn that she will still live chaste?
She hath, and in that sparing makes huge waste.
Romeo and Benvolio are discussing Rosaline’s sexual experience, while she doesn’t want anything to do with Romeo. The boys are objectifying Rosaline. I don’t think Romeo would speak about Juliet in this way. When talking about Juliet, Romeo uses more respectful and loving phrases, such as:
What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That though her maid art fair more fair than she.
He is likening Juliet to the sun and saying that the moon is jealous of her brightness and beauty. What amazing language! This indicates to me that Romeo is experiencing a strong love that he has never felt before, and has to find new ways of articulating his feelings.
So, after looking at the text, you will be able to make up your own mind as to whether or not Romeo & Juliet’s love is real. I’ve found some examples for my theory. Do some detective work yourselves and see if you can find some more evidence! Post it on our Facebook page. I’d love to hear your thoughts! #behindthebalcony
So here lies that age old question, is Romeo and Juliet’s love real? Or is just teenage lust and infatuation?
Since I’m playing the character of Juliet, I thought I’d examine this question on Juliet’s behalf – and anyway who can really comment on Romeo’s view on things – we all know about his obsession with the ever-chaste Rosaline.. I shudder to think that what he felt for her in any way resembled the love he has for Jules! So I won’t go there, might leave that one to Sam…
But this love that Juliet is overcome by – it is a pretty powerful force that she is met with. Being rather sheltered in her youth, Juliet most likely has had limited contact with people who weren’t in the Capulet crew, and this would mean (…one would hope) that she’s not yet experienced any kind of romantic feelings towards another person. It’s safe to assume, however, that she is familiar with this concept of ‘love’ and the various sub-topics that stem from it, from the copious amount of time she has spent listening to the ramblings of her bawdy and uncensored Nurse.
I think, until the night of the Capulet party and possibly as a result of her mother encouraging her to ‘think of marriage now’, Jules’ interest in finding a love buddy has been non-existent. But once she has learnt that she will very quickly have to start considering marriage, I’d say she becomes open to examining this handsome young stranger a bit further than just as a yucky boy in the school-yard. I wish I could tell her, keep looking Jules! Don’t stop here, this one isn’t going to end well, trust me! But it’s too late – once the pair have locked eyes, exchanged a wee sonnet and Cupid has worked his magic, the love lit between them cannot be blown out.
But how do we know that it’s real love? Well, how do we ever know if love is ever ‘real love’? I would argue that if it’s the kind of love that makes you lie to your entire family, take a suspicious-looking substance that is supposed to ‘put you to sleep’ for 42 hours, and ultimately take your own life, it’s probably in the ‘real’ category. Juliet is a smart, intuitive and ‘headstrong’ young lady (as her Daddy calls her), she wouldn’t go through all that for someone she has a little teen crush on.
I mean maybe if she’d made it past the hardest teenage years she might have had been able to see that there was an alternative to her and Romeo’s radical actions, but nevertheless, this love for Romeo that so consumes her becomes her life force for the brief time that she gets to experience it – it is the most alive she has ever felt, and she even gives her life in order to preserve the magic love between her and her husband.
So from Jules’ end, I’d say that the love she has for Romeo is just about as real as it gets!
Over and out,
Said my 15 year old self.
No, that’s a lie. I didn’t really “hate” him; I just didn’t “get” him and what he was harping on about. When I was in high school, I had some great English and Drama teachers. I remember studying Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear probably even a Sonnet or two. English was even one of my favorite subjects in school. But Shakespeare? Nope. Nadda. No deal. The groans and sighs from the students as his plays were being handed out in class were almost unanimous. Being a bit of an English nerd, I didn’t mind too much. I remember liking the stories but the actual language itself remained a big fat mystery. Shakespeare was something old and outdated that young people (like myself back then) had no use for and were being forced to learn…
So how did I get from thinking I hated Shakespeare to working for one of Australia’s leading theatre companies touring Shakespeare to schools?
I went to a school where most of the kids were from homes that had English as a second language or languages other than English. Most of these kids were also first or second generation Australians with parents who had migrated from another country. Shakespeare’s works were not something many of us grew up with around the house. And furthermore at my school, Sports was the Arts and English’s biggest competitor; and it often dominated with our attention and appreciation.
So I left Shakespeare as a boring,incomprehensible old fart with my signed/graffitied school uniforms, old textbooks and letters on colourful Morning Glory stationary (which is like a Japanese Typo) as I farewelled high school.
Until I went to university. Here, I studied Shakespeare from an acting perspective. Not having to approach it as a compulsory English text, I realized that I had forgotten something so simple yet so essential. I had forgotten to play.
I always loved playing when I was a kid. What kid doesn’t? And actors are constantly playing- we ‘re imagining, role playing, “acting”. Our “textbooks” are even called “plays”!
This is what I ignored when studying Shakespeare in English class. My sense of play. Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be enjoyed and performed, not just read sitting down but feeling it in your body and allowing your sense of play to discover what else the words could mean. Also looking up every complex and important word I didn’t understand in a dictionary specifically for Shakespeare (even those words you think you might know as their meaning may have changed from Shakespeare’s time to now) helped enrich my understanding of what these characters were saying. Once I did all this work and research, I then let it go. So now, when hearing the lines again, the musicality and richness of the words washed over me.
Even now, I am always feeling a small sense of pride and excitement when I discover something new about the lines. A new possible thought behind them which in turn can bring a new delivery to them, a new meaning. And trust me, I am still learning and still have so much to learn. You then start to realize that his stories are not so different to those contemporary novels we read today. There’s a reason why his works are being made and remade and re-imagined. They still speak to us today because his characters feel and express emotions we still have today: love, jealousy, betrayal, lust, anger, revenge, alienation.
Plus Shakespeare’s legacy can be seen all around us. He has had such a huge influence on our language. Shakespeare invented close to 1700 words (give or take); Words such as
assassination, aerial, bedroom, bump, countless, excitement, gossip, lacklustre, quarrelsome and watchdog. Phrases such as: “A fool’s paradise”, “a sorry sight”, “all that glitters is not gold”, “fight fire with fire” ,“fair play” and “send him packing”.
Working for Bell has made me look back on this journey I’ve had and renewed my appreciation for the Bard. My struggle with understanding Shakespeare in school is a huge reason why I love this job. I get to bring Shakespeare to schools across the country; allowing students to engage and access his work in a fun and entertaining way.
Isn’t it amazing how language can be your friend or your foe. It can add to feelings of inferiority, alienation, resentment if we can’t find a way in; and on the other hand, make us feel confident, open and proud when we do. The more we understand the language we are dealing with, the more we appreciate and open ourselves to feelings of achievement and wonder. Kind of like when you order something in another language for the first time successfully.
Lucky for us Shakespeare isn’t another language. It’s literally English. Just remember to have fun and play. Do your research and you’ll master it.
That’s what I would say to my 15 year old self if I could. And also to stop spending so much money on those adorably cute stationary pads with the animals on them. Your friends you see everyday in class don’t need hand written letters telling them you’ll see them at school tomorrow Alice.
Spend it on something more important. Like gelato. Which I will do right now. Thanks Alice. You’re welcome Alice. (Insert fist bump)
— Team Ariel