425 Years Later, is Shakespeare Still Relevant?

One of our shorter projects we just completed was called, Romeo, Romeo, why are we still talking about Romeo and Juliet. Throughout the project we read different parts of Romeo and Juliet, and watched video adaptations on the story. The driving question for the project was, Why does Shakespeare continue to be relevant to a contemporary audience? To help us answer this we were to create a contemporary version of a scene in Romeo and Juliet. 

What I learned was, Shakespeare is still relevant to today because the main messages and themes in his text, can be put into perspective in todays time. The way he talks about the power of love and hate, naivety of youth, violence and death and many more, can all be converted into a contemporary message while keeping Shakespeare’s original theme. He talks about very big topics that relate to human behaviour in any point in time. This is why it is relevant to today, we are able too look at themes from past times and see the equivalent themes in todays time. 

I could not have come to this conclusion at the beginning of the project, it was only through the work we did, and actually reflecting back on it that I really put everything together. 

There were two main steps to the project, the first one we did was reading and understanding Romeo and Juliet. This was something I found I struggled with. First of all, reading in old english was already difficult, there wold be words where I had to guess the meaning of based on context. However I mainly I struggled with actually remembering all of the characters, their roles, and what side they belonged to. This may not seem like a huge thing to struggle with, but as we were reading more and more of the story, I wouldn’t be able to fully understand what’s happening as I didn’t know what character belonged to what family. This is something that I think I could have improved if we had more time to complete the project, unfortunately our project was cut short a week because of Covid restrictions.  

A tool we were using while reading, was our Theme book. Each class we read a new act and wrote about what we thought was the theme of the scene we read. This helped keep all my thoughts organized, and I think was something that really helped contribute to my understanding of the driving question. As well as just reading we watched part of a new variation each class and wrote about how the adaptation has changed and stayed connected to the original. This allowed me to get an understanding of how Shakespeare’s themes are present going forward in time and in different scenarios. 

For the next step in the project, we were to work in group and create a short adaption on a scene and bring it into modern day. Unfortunately I missed this part of the project because I had Covid that week. My group managed to pull something together even though I was away, the three of them, Logan, Indira, and Quinn, all worked together to recreate and modernize act 3 scene 1 and 4.

I am disappointed this project got cut so short for me. I wish I had more time to process and understand everything, as well as help create the final product. From what I was here for, I think I was able to get a good base understanding of Shakespeare and his writing, and I hope to get to learn more in upcoming years.