A Homeschool Resource
I’m not sure how many people introduce Shakespeare early to their children. I have my reservations about it—the old Bard offers violence, innuendo and flat out impropriety at every turn, but we were going to see a ballet version of Romeo & Juliet and I did not want to be in a dark theatre with Roo saying, “Now who is that? Why are they fighting? They did WHAT??”
Truth be told half of all the grown-ups there will likely be thinking the same thing. Half of the population in the audience will be asking that same question out loud. But it’s not polite to talk during a ballet performance (although if I understand correctly some of Shakespeare’s crowds believed in audience participation of a sort). Anyhoo…shameless bragging in the next breath, but generally my boys are very well behaved at the ballet. We have season tickets so we always sit in the same spot and there are a couple of older ladies who are VERY annoying who sit two rows behind us. I digress…
Ahemmm…where was I? Oh. We were going to see a ballet version of R&J so I checked out a video from the library so the boys would have an overview of the story. There will be a synopsis of the story in the program, but 20 minutes before curtain is NOT when I want to discuss things.
I was not in the mood to show them my first introduction into R&J from high school—does anyone remember the Olivia Hu$sy version—I really am not fond of that. Also I was afraid if we watched a full version they might not make it to the end. If music and/or dance are involved they can sit for hours, but with the challenging language and the stopping the tape to answer questions, I was afraid I would burn them out on the story before we got to the theatre.
Yes there is a point here.
Sooooo…what I did check out was a video called A Taste of Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, produced by Bullfrog Films. It is 43 minutes long, narrated to fill in the abridged acting scenes, (in my opinion) pretty well acted, set a little unusually so if you like that kind of thing it offers opportunity for a rabbit trail discussion of sets and costuming choices. Not gratuitous violence—minimal blood, there are appropriate cuts which don’t change the story line, It was very acceptable by my standards and it was true to the story, so yes, there is murder, violence, deceit, family feuding, teen marriage and suicide—it’s Shakespeare. If those are themes you don’t care to introduce then Romeo & Juliet would not be satisfactory. Ummm…most Shakespeare would not be satisfactory.
The cool thing is I found an on-line study/teachers’ guide produced by the film company. Now I think the boys really are a bit too young to really go in depth on the story, but I will be hanging on to this for future reference. If you find Shakespeare in your future, you might be interested in this free (always a good word) resource. That was my long-winded point.