Plato to Saint Augustine to promoters of fad ideologies of the 20th.
Century, there has been a concerted effort to destroy the creative
and subversive instincts of children and adolescents. The need for
the child to overthrow the parent and assert his/her own will is at
odds with the interests of the established society to maintain its
privilege and order.
The end result
is too often SUICIDE!
With psychologists, councillors, teachers and
parents blinded to the obvious, it is interesting to note
Of Romeo and Juliet
is a surprising and well textured study in youth suicide: its causes
and sociological dimensions.
may be a surprise to people used to assessing Shakespeare's works
through the eyes of well reserved academia. Too often the play is
studied as an isolated collection of characters. "Study"
videos and texts will discuss how a character might be played. The
Friar, for instance, might be a bungling old fool or a well-meaning
and wise man. Such analysis short changes Shakespeare. He has created
a cosmos with each part inter-related. The tendency to de-emphasize
the suicide is an example of this short coming.
deliberately created very young characters (Juliet is only 13; her
mother is only 28). He makes momentous events happen very quickly ...
like explosions. The Friar's future also might well be short lived,
considering the Prince's suggestion about who will be
"punished". Burning at the stake would not be out of the question.
radical ideologues of the 1960s, while keeping positions of relative
power and influence today, might well learn from the dilemmas offered
to us by the Friar. Though essentially well meaning, he is like the
Merlin and the alchemist: the social engineer playing a kind of god
... a clinical psychologist gone amiss and acting beyond the social
contract accorded to his role. He goes back to the old religions with
his interest in herbs and natural healing (does this make him
"new age"?). His spirituality transcends his functional and
religious role. Yet he is directly responsible for the horrendous
events that occur.
a teacher, I wouldn't like to contemplate life after an event like
that witnessed in Romeo and Juliet. If the church doesn't burn him,
then his conscience will. The Prince succinctly refers to the double
suicide as "murder". And he is right. It is a slow and
modern parents and others in authority any different from
Shakespeare's characters? Are Romeo and Juliet so different? Funny!
We often claim the youth of NOW are the same as the youth of THEN:
with the same issues confronting them. But when it comes to the adult
world, somehow we ignore the obvious and claim some exemption from guilt.
and Juliet are killed by smug adults doing everything in their power
to separate their children from their own humanity. Sex, desire,
idealism are easy targets for a fearful society consumed with
protecting its unstated values. Rules and social controls are
established for creating guilt, submission and fear ... and so the
necessary malleability for continued control.
question of balance between individual desire and fulfillment and
social order and constraint is the central focus of the play.
grotesque adult world and the need for some other beauty: some
ethereal dimension to existence as articulated by the young
adventurers leads to a picture of inevitable tragedy.
absurdist view of Shakespeare's play might suggest that the greater
tragedy is actually the very thought that survival might depend on
submission to, and compliance with, the very gross and trivial
balance of violence that separates the two families in the play. The
acceptance of tribal loyalties would be a safer option than the
allowance of individualism to buck the accepted stereotyped action
and path. Romeo and Juliet are not sociologists or social/political
radicals. They simply wish to follow a very human instinct. It is
their intelligence that causes them to conceal their humanity and
adopt a bizarre course of action in isolation.
culture is often defined in terms of its enemies, be they different
religious groups, other historical enemies or any group perceived as
the oppressor (eg. "men" by separatist feminists or
"blacks" by white supremists in America), the worst thing
any member of that culture could do is to cross over. Witness the
participants in "mixed marriages" in Australia of not so
long ago (if not still today). Witness the words of an old Catholic
woman near her moment of death lamenting the shame she had thrust
upon her for marrying a non-Catholic Mason in the 1930s. Hear her
recognition of betrayal by her family for their ostracism. Witness
her self derision for allowing others to make her feel guilt for the
actions of her youth. Listen and we might gain a better idea as to
how to view the actions of our youth today.
crabs of culture will tear to death any crab that tries to climb out
of the pot to freedom in a cultureless sea. Romeo and Juliet were
wise to remember this. However, they were too trusting of the
representatives of that culture (the Friar and the Nurse) and were
too untrained in the ways of survival to see a better path.
many young people turn to heroine or other drugs at age 13 or 14?
Not a lot. But enough to surprise the most far-sighted crab in the
cultural pot. How many seek the road of self destruction rather than
accept the cage of cultural control and surveillance?
many doyons of culture practice denial and assume no responsibility
for the destruction of their youth?
recognized the question. In his later years, he could not get away
with a play like Romeo and Juliet. The play was subversive
then. And it is subversive now. It challenges so much of our precepts
about order and social behaviour. The play is not a romance. It isn't
simply a fairy tale about "two star crossed lovers". It is
a tragedy in every sense of the word.
long before Freud and Jung, Shakespeare illustrates the model
through which respectable and well-to-do young people, who appear to
have everything, can extinguish their own lives. Perhaps people
shouldn't be offended by what they see. Rather, they might take notes
and see how WE are all a party to the destruction and alienation of
and Juliet presented
by Daramalan Theatre Company on the 10th. 11th. and 12th. of August
at The Belconnen Theatre at 8.00pm. and at 2.00pm. on Saturday 12th. August.
and designed by Joe Woodward and with an original music score by
Damien Foley, the production utilized live stage performance with a
movie version presented concurrently. With influences from Japanese
NO Theatre and Butoh, along with some middle eastern dance, the
production was universal and highly visual. The SHADOW
HOUSE PITS influence
will be immediately obvious.