Most, if not all of us, encountered a play written by William Shakespeare at some point during middle or high school. We may have enjoyed reading and/or seeing this play – but more likely, we were bored, or confused, or just didn’t get it. Still, these plays written centuries ago, in a different country, in a different world, are still with us. Why?

Shakespeare is magical world, once you know how to enter it. The plays are truly the work a genius. They are not all perfect (what is?), but these plays are still performed and loved all over the world, especially in the UK and the US, because Shakespeare’s work brings to life so many universal human experiences and emotions and trials and tribulations, with powerful and poetic language. The language is, paradoxically, both the key to the beauty of the plays, and also our biggest stumbling block to understanding the plays. Therefore…

BEFORE you post in the discussion board this week, watch the following clips of various productions of Shakespeare’s ROMEO & JULIET, arguably his most famous play. Pay attention to the language, try to ‘decode’ the poetry and put it into your words as you listen. Also let the other elements – the acting, the designs, the spectacle – help tell the story and guide your understanding of what’s happening in the scene. Then you’ll be equipped to post and reply to your classmates.

Make sure to watch the videos (also posted under Week 7 assignments) BEFORE POSTING!

In your post, describe your understanding of what is happening in this famous scene. Be detailed and thorough, not general. Then, describe what helped, or hindered, you to understand what the characters’ are saying, what they want, what is happening between them, where they are, etc. Note that some of these productions set the play in another time/place than the Renaissance, when Shakespeare actually wrote the play – what do you think of this artistic choice? Did it help or hinder your ability to connect?