Posts Tagged ‘Romeo and Juliet’

I’ve only seen Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet (1996) once or twice. I’ve never cared much for this play and found the film to be pretty underwhelming, but as I was looking into masquerades and carnivals in theater, this scene from the movie came to my mind. I think it captures the essence of the film and the play very well. These two people came to a fancy dress party in two of the most boring, unimaginative costumes one can come up with. Romeo could be forgiven; he’s crashing the party and one would think he came up with the costume on the fly. But this is Juliet’s home. This is her parents’ party. Surely, she could have gone out and spent a few extra bucks on something a bit more sophisticated than a pair of angel wings and a white dress.

If we’re going to look for hidden meaning, I supose the intention was to make her look incocent and pure and to make him look bold and chivelrous. Thank you for reafirming gender roles there, Mr. Luhrmann. Though, it is the lack of any creative thought on the part of these two characters that seals the fate of the film for me. They are just two very boring people. Granted, they are very young, but even as teenagers their whole world revolves around a very ill-conceived love affair. There’s not much else to them.

Ah, if only there were a cute stalker I could fall in love with

To be fair, many people love Romeo and Juliet and think it’s a wonderful play as well as the one of the greatest love stories ever told.  And the two protagonists don’t have to be quite so bland. A lot of their interactions are fun and flirty and, if done without the heavy-handed gravity or wide-eyed naivete, could add to the dramatic ending. Usually these scenes are played with so much passion as if the characters already know that they’re doomed. But wouldn’t these scenes play out so much better if  they were lighthearted and maybe even slightly silly? Wouldn’t that make their end even more terrible?

What’s more, and this has been noted before, Romeo and Juliet may not even be about these two individuals. It could be that the play is more of a commentary on petty feuds that lead to pointless loss of life. The two families can’t even remember why they are fighting, it has become a habit and their young pay a heavy price. After all, the play doesn’t end with the death of Romeo and Juliet, it ends with their two families reconciling and putting aside their differences to avoid more loss of life.


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I love Halloween! It’s one of the few days of the year when I am not only allowed, but practically required, to wear an insane and awesome costume in public.

If you’re struggling to come up with a theme for your upcoming party, why not go for a Shakespeare themed Halloween? His plays have their fair share of ghosts, murderers, witches and unholy spirits. Here are a few spooky and not-so-spooky costume ideas.


Gustaf Skarsgård as Hamlet

This one is fairly easy. You can, of course, go for a classical look with a decided  Renascence-y feel to it, but you can just wear something black and walk around with a skull. Quoting “to be or not to be” is highly encouraged.

Lady Macbeth 

Brenda Harris as Lady Macbeth. Photo by Tim Fuller

If you don’t own anything Medieval/Renaissance-y/Scottish, don’t worry. Just go for the sleepwalking scene. Think long night gown, messy hair and obsessive rubbing of one’s hands. Don’t forget to keep repeating, “Out damned spot! out, I say!”

Rome and Juliet 

YA novel by Claudia Gabel

If you’re a couple and have a twisted sense of humor, why not go as zombie/ghost/vampire Romeo and Juliet. Make sure that your Romeo looks like he died of poison – some foam around the mouth or an unnatural shade of green, and have your Juliet wear a bloody dagger wound with pride.

Viola/Cesario or Rosalind/Ganymede 

Steampunk Viola/Cesario, Maddox Theater

If you’re a girl, it’s always fun to dress like a boy. If you’re a boy, dressing up as a girl dressed up as a boy is even more fun. Put on some breaches and flirt shamelessly with party-goers of both sexes.

Titania, Oberon or Puck

Oberon, Puck, Titania, Source: Kaoime E. Malloy

Fairies are fun and  easy to do. Glitter, painted faces, a fanciful dress, some gossamer wings and, voilà, your costume is ready.

Ariel and Caliban 

Steampunk Caliban & Ariel, Source: Widgetambolia

Tempest is yet another of Shakespeare’s plays that is perfect source material for a Halloween costume. I would recommend this for a couple. And think outside the box – let the guy dress as Ariel and the girl go as Caliban.

The great bard himself    

A 9-year-old boy as the immortal bard, Source: Boing Boing

If you happen to suffer from megalomania or want to be obnoxiously meta, why not go as the man himself ? A ruffled collar, a doublet and breaches, a bald spot, a quill and some parchment and the character is complete.

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The sassy gay friend is something of a comedy cliche these days. A rom-com heroine just has to have a well-dressed gay friend whose life revolves around making her feel better about herself and giving excellent fashion tips.

Carrie and her ultimate fashion accessory, Stanford. Sex and The City

So that got me thinking, what if Shakespeare lived today and, in the spirit of the times, gave his female leads a sassy gay friend. Not the comedic heroines – there’s already plenty of sass in Will’s comedies – no, I’m talking about the tragic ladies.

It seems that somebody at Second City Network was reading my mind because, lo and behold, here he is, the Sassy Gay Friend, dishing out some sound advice to Shakespeare’s main ladies.

Things could have turned out very differently if only Juliet had had a sassy gay friend.

And poor Ophelia could have been saved if only she took advice from – who else? – A Sassy Gay Friend

What about Desdemona? There would have been no smothering  if she had only listened to her Sassy Gay Friend

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I’m not a huge fan of  Shakespeare’s Rome and Juliet, but these photos by Annie Leibovitz for the December 2008 issue of American Vogue are stunning.

Juliet is played by model Coco Rocha and Romeo is brought to (still) life by ballet dancer Roberto Bolle. And yes, that is John Lithgow playing the friar.

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

Romeo:  O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear-
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows
As yonder lady o’er her fellows shows.
The measure done, I’ll watch her place of stand
And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand.
Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.

Nurse: His name is Romeo, and a Montague,
The only son of your great enemy.
Juliet: My only love, sprung from my only hate!
Too early seen unknown, and known too late!
Prodigious birth of love it is to me
That I must love a loathed enemy.
Nurse: What’s this? what’s this?
Juliet: A rhyme I learnt even now
Of one I danc’d withal.

Romeo: O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?
Juliet: What satisfaction canst thou have to-night?
Romeo: Th’ exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine.
Juliet: I gave thee mine before thou didst request it;
And yet I would it were to give again.
Romeo: Would’st thou withdraw it? For what purpose, love?
Juliet: But to be frank and give it thee again.
And yet I wish but for the thing I have.
My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.
I hear some noise within. Dear love, adieu!

Friar Laurence: These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which, as they kiss, consume. The sweetest honey
Is loathsome in his own deliciousness
And in the taste confounds the appetite.
Therefore love moderately: long love doth so;
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.

Benvolio: Here comes the furious Tybalt back again.
Romeo: Alive in triumph, and Mercutio slain?
Away to heaven respective lenity,
And fire-ey’d fury be my conduct now!
Now, Tybalt, take the ‘villain’ back again
That late thou gavest me; for Mercutio’s soul
Is but a little way above our heads,
Staying for thine to keep him company.
Either thou or I, or both, must go with him.
Tybalt: Thou, wretched boy, that didst consort him here,
Shalt with him hence.
Romeo: This shall determine that.

Friar Laurence: Peace, ho, for shame! Confusion’s cure lives not
In these confusions. Heaven and yourself
Had part in this fair maid! now heaven hath all,
And all the better is it for the maid.
Your part in her you could not keep from death,
But heaven keeps his part in eternal life.
The most you sought was her promotion,
For ’twas your heaven she should be advanc’d;
And weep ye now, seeing she is advanc’d
Above the clouds, as high as heaven itself?
O, in this love, you love your child so ill
That you run mad, seeing that she is well.
She’s not well married that lives married long,
But she’s best married that dies married young.
Dry up your tears and stick your rosemary
On this fair corse, and, as the custom is,
In all her best array bear her to church;
For though fond nature bids us all lament,
Yet nature’s tears are reason’s merriment.

Juliet: What’s here? A cup, clos’d in my true love’s hand?
Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end.
O churl! drunk all, and left no friendly drop
To help me after? I will kiss thy lips.
Haply some poison yet doth hang on them
To make me die with a restorative.
Thy lips are warm!
Yea, noise? Then I’ll be brief. O happy dagger!
This is thy sheath; there rest, and let me die.

A glooming peace this morning with it brings.
The sun for sorrow will not show his head.
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished;
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

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