Breaking a Leg…

I had the honor of watching the first Romeo & Juliet Performance Projects today. Several were very good, a few were hard to watch, but all were worth the while…Among my favorite moments were:

  1. Daisy and Joe with a “cool, mellow, laid back” Balcony Scene
  2. Gisela, Olivia, Maribel, and Janet with a “street brawl” fight scene (and some crazy loud sci-fi swords).
  3. Rebecca, Marilyn, Desiree, and Manuel with a “pimped-out” fight scene, complete with home-made, shiny, tin-foil swords.
  4. Manny and Mely’s heartfelt, lovestruck, starry-eyed Balcony scene (they’ve already lasted longer than Romeo & Juliet did in the play!)

I’m still waiting for a really good Friar’s Monlogue…somebody impress me! You know, I’ve been doing this for five years now, and whenever students of long ago come back to visit me, the Romeo and Juliet Project is the thing they usually remember most fondly. Most of them still remember their lines, too!

I’ve always disagreed with progressive educators who want to move away from the ancient educational tradition of “memorizing” Shakespeare and other great literature. Kids memorize song lyrics like nobody’s business, so why not throw something with a little class into their lyrically stuffed heads? Memorization may not equate to “wisdom” or “understanding,” but it provides a good foundation upon which to build those things–a foundation that is often missing altogether.

So let us memorize our Shakespeare; let us share in the time-honored tradition of schoolboys and scholars alike; let us proclaim proudly the witty words of the bard, those words becoming the “traffic of our stage; The which if you with patient ears attend,What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend” (R&J, Prologue).

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