Introductory Class: Romeo and Juliet
1. The structure of the course
- There will be two assignments:
- One seminar paper on a specific topic as applied to one of the plays, or one critique of a performance (30%);
- One extended essay illustrated by graphic or multimedia materials (70%).
Note that in preparation for the final paper students will provide a "rehearsal" as a presentation to class.
- Topics for seminars
- The range of topics listed below will be applied to specific plays
- The planned field trip to Bard on the Beach (June 9th)
- Each seminar will include discussion of performance issues:
- "Performance cruxes"
- "Submerged stage directions"
2. Introduction to the content of the course
- Some theoretical questions
- Shakespeare and "Shakespeare." Author and author-function (Barthes)
- Shakespeare as the litmus paper, the window through which to see changes in taste
- Shakespeare: literary author or dramatic author?
- Performance criticism as shards and bones to reconstruct the ephemeral
- The medium: appropriating and illuminating the text
- Film and television and the necessary changes for the media
- The need for understanding of film history and technique
- The concept of the "performance crux": an example in Romeo and Juliet
- Questions: Does Isabella accept or reject Duke Vincentio? Why does Lady Macbeth faint? What does Lear see? Is he out of breath?
- Why does the Friar so conveniently flee the tomb of the Capulets to leave Juliet alone to commit suicide?
- Quarto 2
- Quarto 1
- Romeus and Juliet (Brooke)
What, fryer Lawrence, is it you?
where is my Romeus?"
And then the auncient frier,
that greatly stoode in feare,
Lest, if they lingred ouer long,
they should be taken theare . . .
(Brooke, sig. K4, lines 2710-12)
* * * * * * * * * *
And when our Juliet would
continue still her mone,
The fryer and the seruant fled,
and left her there alone.
For they a sodayne noise,
fast by the place did heare,
And lest they might be taken there,
greatly they stoode in feare.
(Brooke, sig. K5v, lines 2761-64)
No moreheres to my Iove!eyes, look your last;
Arms, take your last embrace; and lips, do you
The doors of breath seal with a righteous kiss
* * * * * * * * * *
Softshe breathes, and stirs! [Juliet wakes
Jul. Where am I? defend me!
Rom. She speaks, she lives; and we shall still be
My kind propitious stars oerpay me now
For all my sorrows pastrise, rise my Juliet,
And from this cave of death, this house of horror,
Quick let me snatch thee to thy Romeos arms. . .
(Shakespeare and Garrick 65)
- Linda Hardy's solution: a young, inexperienced Friar. Hardy explained her choice (guided of course by the fact that this was a student production):
I wanted a very young priest in Friar Lawrence. Its traditionally played by a very old fellow, a rather doddering old man, and here I thought it could be played by a young Jesuit or young Franciscan who has everything at stake, who has his whole career ahead of him, and who thinks with his heart instead of with his head. And then at the last moment he panics and flees the mausoleum at the end. It would be understandable, because he is still young, but he is also accessible to the young people and used to counseling them.
- George Cukor (1936)
- Franco Zeffirelli (1968)
- Baz Luhrmann (1996)
See Barthes, Roland. "From Work to Text." Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structuralist Criticism. Ed. Josué V. Harari. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1979. 73-81. PN94 T48. [Back]