Quote of the Day – Shakespearean Saturday

“These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume.”

William Shakespeare – Romeo & Juliet, Act 2, Scene 3

This is my absolute favourite quote from Romeo and Juliet. It is so vividly, passionately tragic with the most exquisite metaphor playing especially in the last line. I love it. In so few words it evokes so much intensity, so many scenarios and so much raw, Shakespearean drama. That man sure did have a way with words.

The Many Faces of Romeo

He started out as an incomprehensible fellow but he sure has made a name for himself, hasn’t he? Romeo Montague, the leading lad in what is oft considered the greatest love story of all time (albeit a bit of a morbid one), has changed his look more times than Madonna has, at the artistic mercy of a thousand different actors, directors and producers.

He began as a wholesome, tight-wearing, Elizabethan bloke, proclaiming his “wherefore”s and “thou”s to audiences of royalty and peasants, prancing across English and Roman stages and confessing his love to men masquerading as Juliet. (Let us all be thankful that women are now allowed to act.)

Romeo Montague

Yes, Romeo was what the corset-wearing, straight-backed women of the sixteenth century would have deemed a hunk. Nowadays however, men in tights and puffy sleeves are rarely classed as ‘chick magnets’, rather as ‘freaks’, and so, to keep the Shakespearean spark alive, our beloved entertainers have made the adjustments deemed necessary by modernity.

Film Romeos: 

After his noble beginnings in Shakespeare’s ‘Globe Theatre’, Romeo began to evolve, first appearing on the silver screen in 1968. Although he retained his traditional attire and romantically confusing dialect, it cannot be denied that this production was an enormous leap in the evolution of the two star cross’d lovers.

Romeo and Juliet 1968 Romeo 1968

Some twenty-eight years later, Baz Lurhmann got his hands on a Romeo and Juliet manuscript, transforming it from a traditional drama into a flamboyant, time-confused amalgam of romance, drugs, Los Angeles violence and bizarre costuming. But from within this weird cocktail of cinematography arose a Romeo embodied by Leonardo Di Caprio and ready to steal the hearts of girls around the world.

Romeo and Juliet 1996  Romeo 1996

2011 saw Romeo venture into the world of three-dimensional animation, starring in Kelly Asbury’s 3D production of Gnomeo and Juliet. And doesn’t Gnomeo just look dashing with his white beard and blue vest? I bet Shakespeare would be proud.

Gnomeo and Juliet Gnomeo

Theatre Romeos

Now, there are countless Romeo and Juliet theatre productions that I could talk about but I’m just going to mention those that I’ve personally encountered.

Firstly, there is the Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre Company’s 2005 production, specifically catering to a youth audience and incorporating a shocking combination of pink hair, miniskirts, profanities and a lot of theatrical sweat. Performed in the style of physical theatre, the production was an intense and moving physicalisation of the love, passion and impetuousness that made the play so famous in the first place. Romeo, in this instance, was your average teenage boy, fed up with school and more often than not unruly.

Romeo and Juliet Zen Zen Zo Zen Zen Zo Romeo

Now it’s 2012 and Romeo’s latest makeover has manifested itself in the Queensland Theatre Company production of Romeo and Juliet. Played by Thomas Larkin, this Romeo has already sparked a little controversy in Brisbane, Australia, with its apparently ‘over sexualized’ advertisements. Nonetheless, it promises to be a fresh and affecting remake of Shakespeare’s original, with possibly the most attractive version of Romeo yet!

Romeo and Juliet QTC Romeo QTC

Yes, this timeless story of young love, with its main male personifying all that women want, has graced the world’s many stages and screens and will continue to evolve long into the future. Shakespeare certainly did do a good job of writing a great love story, didn’t he? What are your favourite versions of Romeo and his lover? Are there any enormous gaps in my timeline of his evolution?

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mr. Darcy

As an eighteen year-old girl, I’ve noticed a startlingly common theme among those of my generation: the pursuit of love is at the forefront  of young adults’ minds. We are young, we’ve just emerged from adolescence, we’ve graduated from high school and now we’re on the cusp of adulthood with very few responsibilities but all the freedom to take our lives in any direction that we please. And yet…here so many of us are, pining after ‘love’…whatever the hell love actually is.

Love, I’ve deduced, is seen as a magical fix-everything power, a validation of one’s existence and the ultimate joy of life. And in part, I can concur; love is the ultimate joy of life: love of friends, love of family; love of children; love of partners. But the whole concept has become a little confused, in my humble opinion; the notion of unconditional love for family and friends being replaced with the idea that love is primarily found in romantic gestures, honeymoon getaways, dinner dates, kisses and hand-holding. We have bastardised the essence of love’s meaning, looking in all the wrong places (reality) for these idyllic elements of romance and finding all the wrong things (real relationships requiring real effort).

I must confess, I too have nurtured a wonderful daydream of being swept off my feet with a thousand romantic gestures, holding hands and skipping off into the sunset with a sickeningly sweet happy-ever-after. But, at the ripe old age of eighteen, I’ve come to understand that such a scenario, in reality, would either:

  1. never actuate,
  2. explode within a month due to a lack of depth,
  3. drive all my friends away with its nauseating mushiness,
  4. become boring very quickly,
  5. perpetuate an unfulfilled feeling due to (as with 2) a lack of depth or
  6. stir 2, 3, 4 and 5 together to form a revolting cocktail of dissatisfaction.

I sound a little pessimistic, don’t I? But I promise, I’m not. I do believe in this kind of love (in spite of all that I’ve just said) but I know it to be found in a place very different to where we’ve all been looking. We’ve been looking in our postboxes for love letters, to our current partners to suddenly develop a romantic gene or on eHarmony for the perfect partner: we’ve been looking for this kind of love in reality. Haven’t we realised by now that reality will never foster such idyllic little fantasies? If we want sunsets and roses without the nitty gritty aspects of real love, all we need do is plunge ourselves into the wonderful world of fiction!

Hello, Mr Darcy, you look dashing today! 

Want a wild and passionate ride to marriage? Want to be the one wooed by the man who never woos? All you have to do is pick up a copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Pride and Prejudice

Want 365 love letters? Want to dance in the street? Want to share ice cream in summer? Find yourself a copy of Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook.

The Notebook Book

Want love at first sight? Want to be a little impetuous? Want to be whispered sweet nothings to? I’m sure you can find a copy of Shakespeare’s oh-so-famous Romeo and Juliet. 

Romeo and Juliet play

Yes, you don’t need to look very far to find an abundance of tales to quench your thirst for romance. Saturate your reality with unconditional love for your parents and friends and siblings and partners. Fulfil your desire for the cute, the sweet and mushy with wonderful world of books!

So, Happy Valentine’s Day, Mr Darcy!