20
Nov
12

Something to say

Today my student groups will cut down scenes from the end of Romeo and Juliet’s Act Three. They will produce a two-minute condensed version of the scene, a la The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [abridged], the parody our drama students put on last week.
Kelly Gallagher said yesterday at a luncheon for the Conference on English Leadership that he teaches the play and other classics “because it has things to say to young people’,” such as posing a the question: Can an ongoing feud between rival families ever end?
Last year, in our initial encounter with the last scene in Act 3, where Juliet dismisses her Nurse for turning against Romeo and urging her to marry Paris, students asked questions that demonstrated their engagement. “Would the Friar be the one who performed the marriage? Why would he do it? Was polygamy lawful then? Can a woman be a polygamist or only a man? Is it immoral or only illegal to have two husbands? Did they have divorces? is a wedding the same as a marriage, and if there is no wedding celebration with lots of people watching, does it still count?
 “Why do they need the parent’s consent?” one student asked. “Haven’t you ever heard of a man asking the father’s permissions to marry a girl?”  “No.” The dialogue and discovery about each other was as rich as the foregrounding text; it served almost as a pretext for talking about what mattered most — the way society and family structures have changed and stayed the same over the years.
   I am excited to see where the classroom talk goes after the scenes are performed. Image
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