Tag Archives: Romeo and Juliet

Representations of Youth

31 Jul

I am always interested in new ways of engaging my students in Shakespearean texts.  I am also always interested in new ways of teaching these texts.

This year, extending an idea raised by a colleague, my students studied Romeo & Juliet through the lens of representations of youth.  We engaged with key scenes, sought to identify how youth were portrayed and to understand how these representations were constructed.

I began the unit by showing students a number of trailers for Romeo & Juliet appropriations.  For each trailer, students had to identify and account for the characteristics of youth, explain which representations had continued resonance, and explain why particular representations frustrated/angered them.  They also had to identify and explain continuity and change in terms of representation across the trailers.

I found this to be an interesting way of understanding the depth and detail of students’ thought processes.  Some students, for example, saw only the demonstration of romantic passion and suggested it was not an accurate representation of youth today as young people do not fall in love so quickly today.  Others however, looked at romantic passion and saw, instead, young people’s abilities to throw themselves into projects with enthusiasm and commitment, often in service of causes they believe in.  For these students, the representation of passion was then both accurate and as relevant in Romeo and Juliet as in contemporary society.


Lyrical timeline

16 Aug

I have a difficult time convincing my Year 9 students to put aside their headphones and participate in my lessons.  Unable to find a solution, I have decided to embrace my students’ love of music.

We have been studying Romeo and Juliet, and I want my students to demonstrate their understanding of the plot by creating a lyrical timeline of the play.  Students are to identify key sections of the plot and locate a line from a song to represent ideas and emotions at each point.  We will then pool our resources and make a timeline along the wall of our classroom.

I am hoping that this will help students to engage with the events, ideas, experiences and emotions at key moments in the text.  I also hope it will give them a memorable shorthand for the main plot points.

REVIEW: ‘Across the Barricades’

3 Jan

I recently read Joan Lingard’s Across the Barricades.  This is a Romeo & Juliet style novel which follows the experiences of Kevin, a Catholic boy, and Sadie, a Protestant girl.   Set against The Troubles in Northern Island, the novel explores the power of community expectations, the strength of love, and the conflicts that result when individuals seeks to challenge the status quo.

This is a really interesting novel to use as a means of introducing students to the relationship between context and content.  Notably, it will require students to have a general understanding of the divisions in Northern Island as, without this, the tensions and obstacles within the text do not make sense.

It is also an interesting novel to use as an introduction to Romeo & Juliet.  Indeed, many of the themes of Shakespeare’s play are introduced in this novel, paving the way for students to understand conflict and young love.   This thematic emphasis also allows for students to make meaningful connections to their own lives, introducing the concepts of prejudice, rebellion and standing up for one’s principles.

‘Marriage is a Private Affair’

2 Nov

I recently read Chinua Achebe’s short story ‘Marriage is a Private Affair‘.  I wish I had stumbled across this earlier and had been able to show it to my Year 9 students when they studied Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet!  Achebe’s story beautifully illustrates the rifts and divisions that would, undoubtedly, have faced Romeo & Juliet had the ending of Shakespeare’s play been different.  Indeed, when ‘Marriage is a Private Affair’ is considered in partnership with Shakespeare’s play, the play becomes about family rather than merely the young lovers themselves.

Cross-cultural Romeo and Juliet

24 Oct

I am always searching for interesting related material for the units I teach.  I recently happened upon a review for Alex & Eve, an Australian comedy which reinterprets Romeo & Juliet in a way that focuses on cross-cultural complications.

I think this review would be an interesting text to show students prior to them creating their own adaptations of the text.

What happens next?

23 Oct

At school, we spend a lot of time with our students attempting to understand the events that lead up to Romeo and Juliet’s deaths.  An article about a new Shonda Rhimes television show prompted me to think about what the relationship between the Montagues and the Capulets might have been like after the deaths of the play’s protagonists.

I think it would be an interesting creative activity to have students work collaboratively to write the next scene of the play, and imagine the aftermath.  Students could have the option of writing in modern or Shakespearean English, and selecting how far into the future they would like to set their scene.

Create a playlist

15 Sep

I am in the market for new and interesting ways to prompt critical and creative thinking.  One idea that has worked well in the past is to ask students to curate a selection of songs which engage with the key ideas of a text.  I am hoping to have the opportunity to try this activity again, this time with Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.  I am particularly interested to discover whether students will gravitate towards love songs or whether they will select (and appropriately justify) other types of music.

Is ‘Titanic’ (the film) inspired by ‘Romeo & Juliet’?

27 Aug

As part of a unit on Romeo & Juliet my students will be required to locate, explore and analyse related material.  A recent discussion with a colleague prompted me to reflect upon contemporary films which reimagine the central ideas and relationships in Shakespeare’s play.

One film that immediately came to mind with Titanic.  Jack and Rose are, of course, “star cross’d” lovers in that they are divided by class and the disapproval of Rose’s family and peers.  The question I would pose to students is as follows:

Does the ending of Titanic (which deviates substantially from that of Shakespeare’s play) compromise the characterisation of that text as an appropriation of Romeo & Juliet?  Discuss.

The purpose of this question would be to facilitate deeper critical engagement with the two texts.

‘What is Love’

20 Aug

I found yet another possible related text to be used as part of a Romeo & Juliet unit.  This song is is entitled ‘What is Love’ and is from the hit television show Empire.  The song conveys the intensity of emotion seen in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, but also flags the complexities of emotion in circumstances where one person seems more committed than the other.

Romeo & Juliet time again!

19 Aug

It seems like just yesterday that I was madly collating Romeo & Juliet related resources for my Year 9 class.  As it turns out, it was about a year ago and thus it is now time to add to the collection of relevant related material.

I stumbled upon yet another Bassey Ikpi Spoken Word poem, this one is entitled ‘I Want to Kiss You‘.  I am hoping to be able to use it to illustrate the intensity and power of love, and to have students make connections between this text and the proclamations of the start-crossed lovers in Shakespeare’s play.