Meanwhile, in Verona…

Happy Friday, people with normal lives.  Here at Milwaukee Shakespeare, we’re continuing into the thick of our work week, mere days away from exiting the friendly confines of the rehearsal space and loading in to the Broadway Theatre Center’s Studio for spacing and technical rehearsals.  Today I reluctantly skipped watching the staging of one of Wayne’s final Posthumus scenes (attendance is technically optional for understudies) to catch up on Education projects Marcy had for me outside of the workshops I taught this week in Brown Deer.

The past two weeks I’ve visited high schools to conduct Romeo and Julietworkshops, adapting on the fly from about 7 days’ worth of material I have in my brain and on the Milwaukee Shakespeare hard drive to suit the needs of specific 9th grade English classes.  Working with squirrelly hormonal 15-year olds may be an advanced level of hell for some of you, but I love going back to R + Jfrequently to see how each burgeoning generation is encountering it.  Early adolescence is, in my opinion, a wondrous time of life, as physical, emotional, and intellectual faculties expand at an alarming, often uncontrollable rate for children who are navigating the already-difficult social environment of high school.  These kids blatantly have a lot to say about the larger world they’re entering into, and Shakespeare’s play can be a fantastic tool to help them articulate it, capturing as it does the passion, energy and confusion of teenagerhood.

So my break from the fantastical world of Cymbeline was much appreciated.  Some brief shout-outs:
To Brown Deer High School, where Jennie Kuehl’s students delved into the acting of the play by examining Romeo and Juliet’s first meeting, exploring where Romeo falls on the creepy-to-confident continuum, and finding language comparably eloquent to Shakespeare’s in noting the faith, trust, and conviction the young couple find in each other.
To Milwaukee School of Languages, where Maggie Shumway’s students created “Balcony 2008”–hysterical new versions of the famous Balcony scene, presented in various contemporary forms, including  hip-hop musicals (Romeo “Trapped In The Bushes”), graphic novels, dubbed foreign films, and trashy dayime talk shows.  One of the latter featured my favorite line of the week: Juliet, trying to get Romeo to act right, let the boy know she was not to be trifled with: “You don’t know where I’m from!  I’m from Verona!


(So yeah, I went back and watched the ’96 version again and was well pleased to still enjoy it in all its tacky brilliance.  Leo was just a baby!)


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