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.

How to swear like Shakespeare

Don’t you know how to swear, you beslubbering, rump-fed bum-bailey?

We think we’re so creative with our four letter curse words and our revolting insults, don’t we? Well, we’re not. I don’t know about you, but when in the throws of a violent tantrum or when simply enraged at something or someone, there is nothing more cathartic than bellowing a shocking string of naughty words…so long as they do indeed shock and horrify. This method of de-stressing is obsolete however, when one’s choice words become standard, everyday terms, recycled more often than they’re worth. We have no idea how uncreative and unimaginative our profanity bank has become; we reuse the same five or six words over and over again and as a result, our small and boring vocabulary of swear words has begun to hold little weight and very rarely makes much of an impact.

Shakespeare however, knew how to coin a juicy insult. Renowned for introducing numerous words to our dictionaries, this oddity of a playwright was never deterred by a lack of suitable words, simply creating his own to suit the occasion. Fortunately for us, this liberal approach to language extended beyond the analytical and the adjectival, delving deeply into the wonderful world of wicked words!

Fed up with calling your arch-nemesis the same thing every time he infuriates you? Why not use Shakespeare’s tools and create your own satisfying, descriptive, dirty insult? I found this useful table on a website this morning and thought you might be able to find a few occasions on which to experiment with it… From each column, pick a word that warms your hateful heart, join your three choices together and voilà – you have yourself a revolting insult that’ll shock and horrify your enemies, siblings and sporting opponents into submission. And you won’t even be breaking any rules…

Column 1 Column 2 Column 3
artless base-court apple-john
bawdy bat-fowling baggage
beslubbering beef-witted barnacle
bootless beetle-headed bladder
churlish boil-brained boar-pig
cockered clapper-clawed bugbear
clouted clay-brained bum-bailey
craven common-kissing canker-blossom
currish crook-pated clack-dish
dankish dismal-dreaming clotpole
dissembling dizzy-eyed coxcomb
droning doghearted codpiece
errant dread-bolted death-token
fawning earth-vexing dewberry
fobbing elf-skinned flap-dragon
froward fat-kidneyed flax-wench
frothy fen-sucked flirt-gill
gleeking flap-mouthed foot-licker
goatish fly-bitten fustilarian
gorbellied folly-fallen giglet
impertinent fool-born gudgeon
infectious full-gorged haggard
jarring guts-griping harpy
loggerheaded half-faced hedge-pig
lumpish hasty-witted horn-beast
mammering hedge-born hugger-mugger
mangled hell-hated joithead
mewling idle-headed lewdster
paunchy ill-breeding lout
pribbling ill-nurtured maggot-pie
puking knotty-pated malt-worm
puny milk-livered mammet
qualling motley-minded measle
rank onion-eyed minnow
reeky plume-plucked miscreant
roguish pottle-deep moldwarp
ruttish pox-marked mumble-news
saucy reeling-ripe nut-hook
spleeny rough-hewn pigeon-egg
spongy rude-growing pignut
surly rump-fed puttock
tottering shard-borne pumpion
unmuzzled sheep-biting ratsbane
vain spur-galled scut
venomed swag-bellied skainsmate
villainous tardy-gaited strumpet
warped tickle-brained varlet
wayward toad-spotted vassal
weedy unchin-snouted whey-face
yeasty weather-bitten wagtail

Happy reading, you unmuzzled, knotty-pated foot-lickers!

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?