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 Post subject: Romeo & Juliet: Ballet vs Play
PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2002 5:08 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 1638
Location: London UK
In the letters page of today’s Evening Standard there is a letter from a fellow of St Edmund Hall, Oxford University, praising the RB's Romeo and Juliet and comparing it favourably with the current acting standards of the play.<P>I think he has a point. I've never been to an acted production of Romeo and Juliet that I have enjoyed as much as some versions of the ballet. This has much to do with the bad verse speaking that seems to afflict so many contemporary actors.<P>Does anyone else agree?<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Romeo & Juliet: Ballet vs Play
PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2002 8:12 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Yes, I do agree Cassandra. I always enjoy the ballet.<P>I have seen it performed on the dramatic stage and it was well done - once. But most of the time I find that actors shout the lines and speak so quickly I don't seem to have a chance to enjoy the beautiful words and rhyme. And, yes, I am speaking here of some rather well known productions of the play.


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 Post subject: Re: Romeo & Juliet: Ballet vs Play
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2002 3:50 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 218
That is a very interesting question. It actually came into my mind while on my way home from watching my last RB performance of Romeo and Juliet. I simply adore the score and always enjoy the ballet performance very much and I wondered how I would feel about a performance of the play.<P>To my emberassment I have to admit that I have never seen the play so far although I have been living in London for a few years now. That is something I will try to 'fix' as soon as possible.


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 Post subject: Re: Romeo & Juliet: Ballet vs Play
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2002 4:32 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2001 11:01 pm
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Location: London UK
Romeo & Juliet is from the group of works known as "Shakespeare's Early Plays" which are distinguished by a higher poetic quality than his middle and late works. R&J is actually a wonderful read and I would recommend reading it before watching an acted production.<P>Years ago there was a theatrical rule that said an actress needed to be 40 to play Juliet. As a teenager I thought that was nonsense, but now I'm not so sure. Every Juliet I've seen has been very young and therefore inexperienced in stage craft in what is after all a very major role and I don't believe any of the half dozen or so Juliets I've seen went on to become leading actresses.<P>Sadly the “rushed and shouted “ verse that Basheva refers to seems to be the norm everywhere now.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Romeo & Juliet: Ballet vs Play
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2002 4:56 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
I recently turned on the television and quite by accident caught only the final segment (unfortunately) of the play done by two actors (unfortunately I don't know who) and they were not shouting or rushing the lines. I thoroughly enjoyed the small bit I was lucky enough to see. I wish I knew what movie production this was, I would like to buy it and watch the whole thing.<P>I believe that Fonteyn also said that one needed to be 40 to dance a successful Juliet. She certainly proved the point.<P>For those of you in the UK you might be interested to know that in our park here we have an Old Globe Theater which was built to most closely to resemble the original as it is thought possible to be. The theater complex includes both indoor and outdoor stages. Every summer there is a Shakespearean Festival, which is very popular and quite famous.<P>On the grounds surrounding the theater there are little stalls for various mild beverages, tea, cider, etc., and various "English" cakes and treats. Strolling dancers and troubadours in period costumes entertain the theater patrons during intermission. It is quite a nice thing. Anyone strolling around the park can also join in the fun and watch the dancing on the green in front of the theater.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Romeo & Juliet: Ballet vs Play
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2002 8:46 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 145
Location: Oshawa, ON Canada
Each season I see quite a few plays at Stratord, ON with a group of friends most of whom are not "Ballet" people. I've seen several productions of Romeo and Juliet, and while I love the play, I've always missed the music and the dance - especially the balcony scene. Once I offered that opinion following a performance and got blasted by my friends (mostly English teachers and amateur theatre buffs who have either acted in, produced or directed every play we see!) and told I was hopelessly prejudiced by all that dance stuff! Now I just keep my opinions to myself. Once I took one of my teacher friends to the see Giselle (his first Ballet) and after explaining the story of Giselle he still didn't understand why the Willis dance men to death - my explaination was that if were an opera they'd sing them to death and if it was in a Shakespeare play they'd talk them to death.


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 Post subject: Re: Romeo & Juliet: Ballet vs Play
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2002 12:19 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2001 11:01 pm
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Noreen, if you can somehow manage you just have to drag your sceptical friends to a Romeo and Juliet ballet performance. I just cannot imagine anyone not being touched by that beautiful score that makes the drama unfold so beautifully.<P>It is interesting that they claimed that you were predjudiced because of all that dancing stuff when by making that very argument they showed they were predudiced themselves.


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 Post subject: Re: Romeo & Juliet: Ballet vs Play
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2002 12:28 pm 
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Thanks Cassandra for putting R&J into context for me. At some pointe I will make an effort to sit down and read the play but I have to confess that in general I find 'reading' Shakespeare rather hard work.<BR>English is not my first language and so the 'old' English and strange spelling (by today's standard) make reading and enjoying at the same time rather difficult.<P>Funnily enough I find it easier to listen to the words spoken. I have a tape of a full cast audio production of A Midsummer Nigth's Dream and by listening to it it turned out to be a lot easier for me to enjoy the play while I had found reading rather a chore.


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 Post subject: Re: Romeo & Juliet: Ballet vs Play
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2002 10:08 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 22, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 130
Location: UK
I took my son and girlfriend, a Cambridge graduate in English, to the RB Romeo and Juliet - she had (amazingly) never been to a ballet before. I asked her afterwards if she had missed the words, and she said no, as far as she was concerned it was all there, just in a different medium. She thought it was perfect ballet material.<P>It is, along with Midsummer Night's Dream, a play that I can read for pleasure any time. If you know the play, it helps with the ballet, but I think the ballet stands on its own as a work of art as well. After all, Shakespeare didn't invent the story, he just embellished it.


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