Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare’

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“O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.” –Juliet’s famous lines in the play Romeo and Juliet

One of the benefits of travelling apart from widening your horizon is to make you aware and separate fact from fiction like this 2nd city we visited on Day 2 of our Euro Tour – Verona, synonymous to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Juliet’s Balcony

Verona is very real and is located in the Venetian region of Northern Italy that gave birth to the legend of Romeo and Juliet, despite the fact that there is little evidence that the couple ever existed a house claiming to be the Capulets’ has been turned into a tourist attraction. Casa di Giulietta  features the balcony, and in the small courtyard, a bronze statue of Juliet. Beneath the balcony was where Juliet is supposed to have been wooed by Romeo.  Historians say there is almost nothing to connect the house to Shakespeare’s tragic love story and that the celebrated balcony was constructed out of pieces of a medieval sarcophagus in the 17th century. The only shred of a connection is the fact that the house was probably once the abode of the Cappello family — who may have been the model for the Capulets of Romeo and Juliet.

Letters addressed to Juliet keep arriving in Verona, more than 5,000 letters are received each year, most are from American teenagers. These letters are read and replied by local volunteers known as Club DI Giulietta (Juliet’s Club). Our tour manager mentioned this 2010 movie to refer how this club works. ‘Letters to Juliet’, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Amanda Seyfried. I have seen this film it’s a tale of a young American tourist who stumbles on one such missive shoved behind a loose brick in the courtyard below Juliet’s balcony. She reveals that it was written by Redgrave’s character more than 50 years earlier, expressing sorrow that she left behind a handsome young Italian, Lorenzo, to return home to England.

As per our local guide it’s customary to do the following while in the court.

  1. Stroke the right metal breast of Juliet’s statue, and you will have good luck. Seriously, I pity Juiliet’s statue, I’m guessing she wants to shout from the countless hands that fondled her now discolored  right breast. Anyways, this hasn’t stopped me from striking a pose while caressing her worn-out chest.
  2.  Write your name and the name of your beloved on the ramparts of the entrance.  Many think that writing on Juliet’s wall will make their love everlasting. But  the local tourist guide made this disclaimer  “that everlasting love is only applicable in Verona,  outside Verona I don’t care!.”
  3. Put small love letters on the walls, lock it  and throw away the key but our ‘mood killer’ tour manager warned us that there’s a master key that opened up all those locks to clean the wall for next day tourists

Arena di Verona

Not far from Juliet’s balcony we walked and reached The Verona Arena (Arena DI Verona) is a Roman amphitheatre in Piazza Bra. There’s not much I can say about this auditorium because it was closed and under renovation. Our tourist guide mentioned that the place was  internationally famous for the large-scale opera performances and it is one of the best preserved ancient structures of its kind.

The city of Verona has been awarded World Heritage Site status by UNESCO because of its urban structure and architecture.A United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site is a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, island, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance.While each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located, UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.There are 981 World Heritage Sites, Italy has the most number totalling 49.


Othellocover “But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve / For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.” –  Act 1, Scene 1

Othello is a tragedy by William Shakespeare written in the 16th century. The story revolves around four central characters: Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army; his wife, Desdemona; his lieutenant, Cassio; and so called friend Iago. Racism, love, jealousy, and betrayal were the theme of the plot.

I remember seeing this movie ‘O’ back in 2001, a loose modern adaptation of this play. I steered from anything Shakespeare, having this mindset that the Elizabethan English will bore me and that I might not be able to follow the dialogue as the writing style are heavy. But I know I have to give it a try, Shakespeare plays remain highly popular today and are constantly studied, performed, and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.

There’s 2 of his works that I have seen (1) The Merchant of Venice, where I was sitting in the private balcony and spent a great deal of money but was in constant blur throughout the play for it was in Nihongo. The lead actor was Tatsuya Fujiwara (stars as Light Yagami, the lead role in Death Note). I was on holiday in Japan that time and up to now I questioned myself as to how the hell my friend talked me into watching it. (2) Romeo + Juliet 1996 film directed by Baz Luhrmann. Stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, we all know the story but wait till you see this movie, though the dialogues are Elizabethan I was still blown away by the modern adaptation of it especially the last part where seconds after Romeo took the poison, he saw Juliet opened her eyes – that scene was a breath taking .

Othello is a picnic in the park, literally. The play was meant to be viewed while you are lying in the grass, drinking wine with your picnic basket on your picnic blanket. This experience of hearing Shakespeare while munching your sandwich or eating my favorite chips made me attracted to purchase the tickets and watch. Surprisingly, I was able to follow the conversation though the language was an Elizabethan and more so, it captured my attention and interest and I never slipped into ennui at all – so this is ageing! I guess my comprehension was ready for it and I’m so glad I never get to tackle Shakespeare in high school as some of the teens from the audience cursed the dialogues during the intermission and murmured ‘ I will never do Shakespeare ever!’.

All the actors were very impressive memorizing their lines and speaking their part. They’re just so awesome, especially the characters of Iago and Othello. English was their native tongue but to speak Shakespeare was a challenge and yet they pronounced it clearly and eloquently. I think they tweaked some of the words to make it comprehensible that’s what the comment by an English lady sitting at the back of me because she was also surprised that she was able to understood lucidly. Tweak or no tweak because of this play I vow never to fear Shakespeare.

What an awful, awful misfortune for the characters of this tale. Curse that devious Iago and  damn that handkerchief!!!  The lesson I learned from the story is to borrow a quote from George Macdonald ‘ To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved’