Juliet 1: Falling in Love

What do teenagers find so compelling about Romeo and Juliet? British actor Jade Anouka explains what British teenagers taught her about playing Juliet.

Transcript

Becoming a Shakespearean actor

I’m not sure when it originally began. I just have this feeling of always wanting to perform. When I was young I would put on little shows for my family, you know, in my home. And I just loved the idea of telling stories and that was the joy of it. And Shakespeare wasn’t someone that I necessarily knew about that much. I’d heard his name before but I didn’t know what his plays were about particularly. And then as I got to school I then was introduced to Shakespeare.

Playing Juliet

The first time I got to play and be in Romeo and Juliet, I played Juliet at the Bolton Octagon which is a theatre in the north of England. It was in the round, the audience were all around us and it was set in Italy. And we were rich youth of Italy and that was kind of the scene. And I enjoyed it so much, I loved playing Juliet, but unfortunately it was a really short run. We did about three weeks. And so a couple of years later I got the opportunity to play Juliet again. I jumped at the chance. I wasn’t ready to finish with her. I wanted to kind of have that again, and also the chance to play in London and to play Juliet on The Globe stage, which is where this play was originally written for. You know, there was already the balcony built in to the theatre for that scene. We were performing it mainly for teenagers. And so the teenagers are there seeing teenagers on stage which I found fantastic. We were up there representing them in a way. And we were dressed like them. There were scenes where I was in school uniform and a lot of the audience were in school uniform as well. And it just meant that they could really follow. I think Romeo and Juliet is so good for young people because they can really follow the story. These are situations that they can find themselves in as well. Especially the idea of falling in love for the first time or seeing people that you fancy. Or the situations with your parents. And what I love about performing Romeo and Juliet is, especially to young people, or to people who maybe have never been to the theatre before, is that when you ask a question as your character we often got an actual response from the audience. And they really invest in Romeo and Juliet, I think. And even though you may know what’s going to happen – most people who watch it do know the fate of Romeo and Juliet – they still kind of go on the ride with them. They still have the joy of them falling in love. And they feel that and they go through that. And then it’s so heartbreaking at the end.

What do you like about Shakespeare?

When I started actually speaking Shakespeare’s words out loud I did find a love for it. I love how Shakespeare made up words sometimes. When he couldn’t find the right word to make sense of what he was trying to say. And also of course sometimes he writes in rhyme and so he needed to make up a word that would fit the rhyme. And I really liked that about it. I like the poetry of it. And also the fact that his stories were quite vivid and exciting. And what people go through, especially like in Romeo and Juliet. These are two young people, 14, around that age. And they have such an amazing, tragic, but such an exciting kind of few days. And what a kind of joy to read that as a teenager yourself.

Discussion

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Submitted by meknini on Fri, 15/07/2022 - 03:12

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Romeo and Juliet is unknown to most around here except if they learned Shakespeare's poem Sonnet 18 when it was taught in the English syllabus about a decade ago where they might have heard teachers associating this poem with the famous play.

Like other cultures unrequited love is also a popular theme in local films and novels but it usually depicted much older personas not as young as Romeo and Juliet who are in their early teens. I reckon regardless of cultures and distant spaces we are still interconnected as individuals in our needs for romanticism.

Submitted by Mahmoud Haruna on Sun, 27/09/2020 - 15:36

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I really don't know about Shakespeare until I was in the university when I developed an interest in literature.Though until now I'm yet to read any of his work 'cause I don't understand the language

Submitted by serraemm on Wed, 20/05/2020 - 20:55

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Shakespeare is really popular in my region. Everyone at school has already played a Shakespeare's play. I remembered when I played Romeo when I was a 17 years old boy at high school. I was excited about playing this caracter because I - like most teenagers - was actually concerned about stories of love. I fact, 'falling in love' is in everyone lips when you are a teenager. First kiss, love and drama are plays where you are the main character if you are a teenager. But it is not only true for young people. 'The art of love' is a topic of interest to people of all ages. It may explain why love is the main topic in most films since ever. All of us heard about 'Titanic', 'Casablanca' and 'Bodyguard', three master pieces where our feelings emerge.

Submitted by Aya Hayati on Sat, 15/09/2018 - 04:31

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Romeo and Juliet is the most famous love-story in all the world. I studied it in my university while I took English Literature as my major. I'm not a big fan of Shakespeare and story of Romeo and Juliet, but I agree if young love is a great and everlasting topic for all people to discuss/play about.

Submitted by Néstor Serrano on Fri, 13/07/2018 - 19:10

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I believe that it is very important to motivate the young people like this girl that they can find your own vocation. She is very interesting in this kind of art and it will be the best that she can work in it, her feelings, emotions, and expressions makes me think that maybe in a future, another star will coming soon.

Submitted by Shikha Pandey on Mon, 16/04/2018 - 18:51

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I have not read it personally but I know the basic story and have seen many films based on this classic gem of a play. Not really a fan of Shakespear - other than a few plays and poems haven't read much of his work - but I have a huge respect for him and his unbound imagination.

Submitted by APARECIDA on Sun, 28/01/2018 - 11:25

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Romeo and Juliet are known in Brazil...all students have classroom about literature with brazilians authros and foreing authors and philosofers too, we searching understanding the enviroment and the context the history ....Its interesting because we reconecting past, present and future because to read and talk about the literature book or apresentation we studing with examples actual.