Marking the end of the second semester of grade 10, our final PLP project was regarding Romeo and Juliet, and as a high schooler, one of the most dreaded assignments is reading Romeo and Juliet. But, as a high schooler, it’s seen as almost a rite of passage into becoming a true learner that one must go through the pain and suffering in reading the Middle English present in the play.

Art UK

Following our previous project, the Ology of Apology, I wasn’t super excited to hear that our next project would be centred around Romeo and Juliet. This feeling only got worse as I saw the first few pages of the book, and discussed with my non PLP learner peers who had already read this play in their English class. I knew I would be in for a long project when I saw the first few lines of act 1, scene 1. It was Middle English! Full of thous, ayes, nays, thees, and lots of apostrophes. All of these not used commonly in the average 2022 conversation.

Glasgow University Library

Explained shortly, in this project we had to read the playbook for Romeo and Juliet, all while connecting it to more recent adaptations of the story, creating an overall idea for each act, and finishing off the project with our own adaptation in the form of a play. The driving question for this project was “why does Shakespeare continue to be relevant to a contemporary audience”. Now I won’t waste any of your precious internet exploring time and I’ll answer it right now.

Well, considering it dropped 424 years ago, it was hard to find an answer to this, but from my understanding, schools are still making their students read this because what Shakespeare is writing about, could 100% be written today. That 424 years ago, the overall storyline is extremely similar to the array of romance novels you’d find at your local library. I think Shakespeare continues to be relevant to a contemporary audience as he serves as a reminder that not much has changed since 1597 and that many events in history can repeat itself, regardless of the timeframe.

So how did I come to that conclusion?

Throughout our readings of the Romeo and Juliet playbook, we had to keep a theme book. In this theme book, housed our thoughts, connections, and our idea of the prevailing concept Shakespeare was attempting to get across regarding the specific act or passage. In this theme book, we also had to connect the playbook to an adaptation that we watched each class. This helped us connect a play from 1597 to something a bit more modern, which would help us understand the concepts easier. The adaptations also gave me a much greater understanding of what happened through each act as I felt it was quite hard to understand the old English, especially during the beginning. The adaptations that we watched were: Romeo & Juliet (1968), Romeo & Juliet (1996), West Side Story (1961), Gnomeo & Juliet (2011), and Warm Bodies (2013). In my theme book, I focused on the language Shakespeare used, and how he used it to convey emotions and understanding. I wanted to fully grasp each word, why he used it, and what he meant by it. I feel through the theme book and adaptations, it helped grow my understanding of the overall plot of Romeo and Juliet, but also the smaller things that Shakespeare indirectly wanted us to understand and emotions he wanted us to feel.

After the theme book, we had to create our own adaptation. Nate, Keenan, Sofia and I worked together to complete this. The act we would be adapting would be act 5, where Romeo finds Juliet dead, and kills himself. The way we would adapt this into our own ideas is that we would transform it into gang edition. The Montagues and Capulets would be rival gangs. If you would like an in depth look into our adaptation, you can see it below. Through creating this adaptation, I obtained a greater appreciation for Shakespeare and how he used his words to create an engaging story that reflects on human behaviour and how his views still impact us today.

So what did I get from this project?

Through the learning of his project, each keystone, act, adaptation and assignment it pushed me further to the realization of what we were really learning about in this project. Going back to my answer to the driving question, I think this project served as a hint at how history hasn’t changed that much, in fact repeats itself, and Romeo & Juliet was merely an example of this.