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Teens Weigh In: Why Romeo and Juliet Endure

2013 October 11
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Well, readers and movie buffs, today marks the release of a new Romeo and Juliet movie adaptation, this time with Julian Fellowes (of Downton Abbey fame) putting the Bard’s words to screen. Take a gander at the trailer if you haven’t already:

Here at The Hub, we’ve covered remakes and star-crossed love, and today we bring you teens’ and young adults’ own thoughts on this ever-enduring story.

Which movie actors would you cast as Romeo and Juliet?

“I think Rose Byrne would be a good movie actress to play Juliet, because she landed her first role at 15 years old, and they were about the same age, and I think Romeo should be played by Leonardo DiCaprio.” –Genoa Juliet

“Orlando Bloom on Broadway” –Helen

“If we’re going more age-appropriate, I agree with the casting of the new movie: Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth. If you’re looking for actors a little bit older, I think I’d cast Eddie Redmayne as Romeo. He has that suave, leading-man quality about him from what I saw in Les Mis. For Juliet, I’d go with Condola Rashad. I just saw her on Broadway as Juliet (opposite Orlando Bloom) and she was fantastic!” –Luke

romeo and juliet folger shakespeare library coverThis play is over 400 years old! Why do you think it has stayed popular for so long?

“I think that it’s stayed popular because I feel like some people idealized/want their relationships to be like that. even though r and j only knew each other for a day, there was that sense of unconditional love and love at first sight and the person you love will do anything for you is so romantic. and they have been immortalized as the most romantic and loving couple. I also think it’s so popular because of how it is written and who it is written by. the words and the poetry are so beautiful. Somehow Shakespeare had manipulated the words to have such beautiful meanings.” –Helen”I think it has stayed popular because people of every age love the unblessed relationship between the two Romeo & Juliet and love playing parts in plays.” –Genoa Juliet

“I think because forbidden love will be as relevant as ever for as long as humans exist. So many people have experienced that feeling of caring about someone but not being allowed to be with them for reasons neither person can control. Love is so universal that it speaks to everyone in a way. And Shakespeare’s deft writing is also part of it. The way he uses the form to help enhance the piece without the reader even being aware of it is just brilliant.” –Luke

What do YOU like about the play? What do you dislike about it?

“I liked it because my favorite thing about any story is the narrative behind it. If it has a good story, I will certainly read it. If it doesn’t, I will not.” –Jake S.

“What I like about it is that you get the chance to speak, dress, act, and understand the story better. I don’t like that we have to memorize the way they speak.” –Genoa Juliet

“There is nothing I don’t like about the play, I mean some scenes are frustrating but there are some scenes like the Tybalt and Mercutio fight scene or any of the Romeo and Juliet scenes. So it’s all balanced out, but it’s all written so beautiful I love it all. Ugh I am a Shakespeare fan girl and you can quote me on that. He was just so eloquent with his words and his immortal poetry. Changing his words or cutting out lines it’s like butchering immortal poetry. (I say that because I saw the new movie trailer and they seemed to have changed the words and added scenes.)” –Helen

“I like the themes within the play: love should conquer all, but it doesn’t always happen that way. It doesn’t just take the easy way out and say, “And their parents got over their issues and they lived happily ever after!” It’s realistic in that I’m pretty sure the only way the Capulets and the Montagues would stop fighting is if their children die. I love a story that isn’t afraid to be at least a little tragic to help make their point. As far as what I don’t like…I really am not a fan of the characters of Romeo and Juliet. Their stupidity at their own feelings are just ridiculous. I could rant forever on how stupid they are. I understand how lustful they feel, and their desire to be together at that moment, but really? *facepalm*” –Luke

What is your favorite Shakespearean insult?

“You kiss by the book.” –Genoa Juliet

“Thou art as loathsome as a toad.”  –Helen

“Hang thee, young baggage!” –Helen

“Thou saucy clapper-clawed hugger-mugger!” –Luke

Which two groups could be seen as the Capulets and Montagues of today?

“Prince William and Kate’s family, because it’s royalty, just not enemies.” –Genoa Juliet

“Two words: government shutdown. I’m pretty sure Congress and their stubbornness could easily qualify as the Capulets and Montagues of today. I feel like the Democrats and Republicans don’t like each other at this point solely because they’re the “dark side”, not because of their actual opinions. The Montagues and Capulets had reason to hate each other at one point, but Romeo and Juliet have no reason to continue the feud. After all, as Juliet says, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”” –Luke

Another way to ask this question: what kind of couple today would not be allowed by their parents to date each other?

“I could see this happening in quite a few different instances, probably in a similar situation as Romeo and Juliet: the children of rivals whose parents won’t let them see each other for various reasons. Maybe they’re business rivals. Maybe one’s a jock and one’s a geek. Sadly, I think many teenagers will still have to deal with this.” –Luke

Thanks to Carly Young and the drama club at Genoa Middle School, Helen from Columbus School for Girls, and Luke from NYU for their help with this post! :)

–Becky O’Neil, currently reading Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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