Romeo and Juliet Parody
Shakespeare can be fairly regarded as one very tough writer to read and understand. According to the New York Times, “The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has decided that Shakespeare’s language is too difficult for today’s audiences to understand.” (Gonchar 1) This Statement to an extent is true solely because Shakespearean writing can either be exciting or boring depending on the way it is taught to you . In my own opinion , Shakespeare's work is what, you- as a reader, make of it . Throughout the course of the year , We (as students) have been given the gracious opportunity to be taught Shakespeare in a way that , in my own opinion, has been the best way ever taught to me. From the very first day, I knew that this class was going to expose me to Shakespeare (or Shakesy as we could call him) in way that I had never known . Along with our amazing professor , Mrs. Coon , we read , analyzed , and deciphered the true meaning of Shakespeare's puzzle of a play , Romeo and Juliet . From understanding how the play goes farther than just love , to how to most minute characters had the largest impact and influence to the tragic death that overcame “the two star crossed lovers” (prologue) ,we truly engulfed ourselves into understanding this difficult play in a much deeper way.
It’s been an amazing journey and I truly feel that we’ve been challenged every step of the way to step out of our comfort zone, but the largest challenge we’ve been given has been to modernize the infamous play in our own way. Throughout the last couple years , many movies or shows have been made that parodize or modernize a few of Shakespeare's plays. A few examples of these would include Sons of Anarchy (portraying Hamlet) or Romeo + Juliet (obvious) . In order to really test our ability and understanding of the entire play, we’ve been challenged by Mrs. Coon to create a parody of Romeo and Juliet , containing the same characters , with a different setting and any outcome. Our choice in a parody consisted of modernizing the play in a giant favorite amongst adults, the infamous Jersey Shore. It was truly a hectic ride , but in order to show that we fully and truly understood the play , this is how we executed our parody.
To begin , I feel as though we need to give a sort of synopsis or summary as to what show we were using in order to interpret the play as a parody. As already stated we decided to use the famous and entertaining reality show , Jersey Shore. According to IMdb ,” Jersey Shore is a reality-based look at the vapid lives of several New Jersey 20-somethings and their respective friends and/or hook-ups” The show throughout its many seasons contains a multitude of characters but we decided to focus on only a select few. As the title of the show suggests, the setting takes place at none other than the Jersey Shore.
What we did as a group right off the bat was figure out what we would title our parody , and instantly knew that the perfect title would be The Verona Shore. This title would also represent the setting of the parody itself. Second we had to take into consideration that the whole basis of Romeo and Juliet would have to be the grudge that has haunted the family for an ancient amount of time. In terms of Jersey Shore, creating drama or any sort of underlying issue really isn't the problem since most of the show consists of just that, issues and drama. We had to incorporate the importance of the preserving the characters while still acting in this new version of the play. We decided to go with the very well known fight scene from the show as the basis for our entire parody since fighting was very prominent throughout all of shakespeare's play. We begun by showing the two houses living together under one roof in Verona.
It’s been a few years since the drama from the play so the characters we included in our parody were Romeo, Juliet , Rosalina , Tybalt , Benvolio , and Mercutio. There wasn't much difficulty in terms of creating the characters, but rather preserving each characters persona in each and every scene in order to have a sense of consistency throughout the entirety of the show. Our characters aren't much different from that of the actual play, they just have a hint of Jersey to them .
In the parody I ended up playing as Juliet, which to an extent was difficult. We as a group tried to keep her independent and irrational mind intact throughout so there's still that aspect of Juliet, but added in the loudness and irritating traits of Sammie. We tried to incorporate as many of the originals plays lines within our characters, such as my part (juliet) using the well known line “ A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet and b**ch im that rose” with a very clear twist to it. In addition what also does made things fairly more easy is in terms of keeping my character Juliet as identical to the original play was the fact that Sammie is deeply in love with Ron , but at certain moments does have a sense of clarity as to how bad of a boyfriend he is. Juliet (in the parody), when being compared to Sammie, is deeply in love with Rom in our skit, but also does show some sense in clarity as to his actions . She questions if the love is ok and if she should continue progressing through with the relationship. Continuing on , Tybalt was also a character that stayed relatively the same throughout the course of the parody since he carries over the grudge he has from the play.
Ty in our skit has a big hatred towards Rom which is very apparent in our fight scene. This scene in our skit shows how even after the play , there is still a large grudge amongst The Capulets and The Montagues . “The immoral pasado , The Punto Reverso”(A2S4) had everything needed in order to get his jersey side out in our parody. One detail in our characters and script that I do feel I can note as a major difference is Rosalina's personality trait.In our parody she could be considered as being an instigator of problems. In the play Rosalina wasn't heard much aside from going into a nunnery and having a relationship with Romeo before Juliet.
The reason as to why we made Rosalina this way was due to the fact of drama being needed within what we call The Verona House. Rosalina These are only a few examples of the characters and their interpretations of the play , but throughout the acting , we had a good amount of struggles that made the actual execution of the parody a bit difficult. Trying to incorporate the original lines of the play was to an extent difficult to do since its alot harder to modernize or include such elaborate speech in a modern way or form. This now brings up the point in which how adapting the parody itself was difficult.
Adaptations in today's modern era are always going to be difficult to interpret or perform due to the fact that everyone has a different view point, or could have a completely different understanding of a Shakespearean play. The reason that adaptations are very important is because it is the simplest form of expression to give a sort of understanding of Shakespeare's writing to today's audience . Since the raw text can quite often just be too difficult for many to comprehend , you can say that many people struggle with reading the play. This is mainly because the play itself was meant to be acted rather than read. You can quite possibly blame the difficulty of reading the play on Shakesys wordplay and his ability to create a confusing flow of words in his lines in his famous sonnet style.
According to Wordplay in Earliest Shakespeare , “Any discussion of wordplay needs to define its terms, however difficult that may be”. This is explaining that throughout any aspect of Shakespeare's writing, it is necessary to have some sort of definition or understanding of the writing itself in order for the main ideas to be fully grasped . Modern day adaptations are in a sense , a portal to the meaning of the original plays. These performances/movies/shows can all portray shakesys plays in such a subliminal way that even on some occasions, the audience won't even catch the reference ! A good example of how interpretations can truly go over one's head is the comparison between Hamlet and the very popular television series , Sons of Anarchy. The show contains many characters ,but the comparison begins with Jax Teller. Jax was the son of the President of the motorcycle club , The Sons of Anarchy. His father passed away in a biking accident but here lies the beginning of the comparison. If you are in any sense familiar with Hamlet,then you’ll know how that the actual reason Hamlet's father died was due to his evil brother , Claudius. The case is the same in this television series, in which the real reason Jax’s Father died was due to his best friend Clay (notice the resemblance in names?) pulling the brakes from his bike. Other notable characters which can be compared to those in the original play are Opie who is considered the bestfriend of Jax . The weird catch is that Opie is considered to be interpreted as ophelia ,just that clearly he is not the lover of the main character .
This interpretation is viewed as an attempt to show that love can come in many forms. Jax and Opie both lost their fathers which pushes them over the deep end to seek vengeance and do anything in their power to achieve that goal. Next up you have Juice Ortiz, who is a direct representation of not one but two characters from the original play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Juice was a very close friend of Jax until he betrayed the club and ratted them out to the police as a “mole” or a rat. This betrayal of the main character is the very reason for their direct comparison and death. In a quote from the article ‘Sons of Anarchy’ vs. ‘Hamlet’ , by Kelly Schrempf, she states “Anyone who's the least bit familiar with this classic Shakespearean drama knows that it's full of lies, betrayal, and bloodshed — otherwise known as the three key ingredients to any SoA episode. Death is practically SAMCRO's bread and butter, and if SoA is a true reflection of Hamlet , that means barely anyone will make it out of this show alive.” which is true to every extent. As any tragedy written by Shakespeare, your most beloved characters will always die .
The Show obviously ends with Jax ultimately killing his Clay and avenging his father John. Romeo and Juliet when compared to adaptations however , is a different case. As stated in the article by Arts and Culture ,”Of all Shakespeare's plays, perhaps Romeo and Juliet best lends itself to modern adaptations. After all, the essence of the play is about eschewing conventions - youngsters in thrall to their passions rebelling against the customs of their parents and society.” . The play itself is easy to adapt in a modern era today since many young adults can sympathize and relate to the struggles of “love” at a young age.
You can clearly look at the movie Romeo + Juliet if you’re familiar with the play and notice how the modern adaptation of the play is so similar to the original text yet contains small differences. One small example of a difference in the movie and the play could be the way that the two lovers die in the finale. In the play the death of Juliet begins with her finding Romeo dead and cold beside her , where in the movie , Juliet wakes up with enough time to find romeo still partially breathing as he progresses to die in her arms. Also due to the modernization, Juliet uses a Gun to kill herself rather than a dagger.
Another notable difference could be the scene with mercutio before the Capulet party. In the movie the teens pop some pills resembling ecstasy where in the movie , they got drunk with liquor. Of course there are many changes to the way the acting is executed and changed to make it seem more like an actual parody or comedy movie, but the central idea and characters all stayed the same throughout the movie. Jersey Shore is the type of show that can contain almost every aspect that is found within the play , from everything like love to the very grudge that haunts the play. Majority of these characters were able to be adapted and fitted to make a good adaptation. In a article I read by Gretchen Turonek , she states that a good adaptation contains “Faithfulness to the source material, be it in terms of plot, theme, tone, etc” which is true in our parodies. We tried to keep the raw plot , theme and characters as original yet different as best as we possibly could.
There were times where we all sort of doubted how far we would actually go in terms of being able to actually create a good parody since we all worked or went to school for other classes throughout the week. There were times were we would have to wake up at 6:00am to be ready and at Gabby's house by 7:00 - 7:30 am to record up until 12 on a weekend when we would all have to work full shifts right after. At the beginning I was very unsure as to how far my group was actually capable of going with this project, Especially losing a team member and gaining 2 half way through . I firmly believe that each and every one of us built and created friendships through this on project through all our laughs and arguments as to how we should portray our parody . In the end, our teamwork and commitment was used to actually push ourselves through every work day in order to get things done .
This perseverance really helped us in order to accomplish this super irritating yet pleasing project. As I stated in the introduction, this form of learning Shakespeare was unlike any that I had previously experienced. Mrs. Coon truly went out of her way to ensure that each and everyone of us was getting the most of out of the class and truly understanding every aspect of Shakespeare’s amazing form of writing. Day in and day out , whether I was late or on time , I always found a sense of happiness in being in a class with a professor as dedicated as Mrs. C and having such a strong Verona Shore Cast. It’s been an amazing journey ,and I truly feel that we’ve been challenged every step of the way to step out of our comfort zone. From revamping and parodizing such a famous play into a now very popular tv show, it was truly one of the funnest things I could have possibly done and experienced. The Verona Shore is always something I’ll remember.
- Stoker , Gill. “Shakespeare: Our Contemporary?” OpenLearn, The Open University, 27 Oct.2005,www.open.edu
- Gonchar, Michael. “Is Shakespeare Too Hard?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 14 Oct. 2015, learning.blogs.nytimes.com
- Shakespeare, William, and Dympna Callaghan. Romeo and Juliet: Texts and Contexts. Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
- Entertainment, MTV. “Jersey Shore.” Jersey Shore, season 3, episode 1, 10 Feb. 2011.
- “Jersey Shore.” IMDb, IMDb.com, 2012, www.imdb.com
- Schremph, Kelly. “'Sons of Anarchy' Vs. 'Hamlet'.” Bustle, Bustle, 13 Nov. 2018, www.bustle.com
- BRUSTER, DOUGLAS, and NELL MCKEOWN. “Wordplay in Earliest Shakespeare.” Philological Quarterly, vol. 96, no. 3, Summer 2017, pp. 293–322. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com
- Romeo + Juliet. Dir. Baz Luhrmann. Perf. Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. DVD. Twentieth-Century Fox, 1996.
- Gretchen Turonek. “What Makes a Good Film Adaptation?” Gretchen Turonek, 16 Mar. 2016, gretchenturonek.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/what-makes-a-good-film-adaptation/.