How have modern text creators made Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ relevant and accessible to contemporary audiences?
William Shakespeare is one of the world’s most influential poets and play writers - How have modern text creators made Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ relevant and accessible to contemporary audiences? introduction. His works are continuously reappearing due to his time-less themes such as family, suffering, love and hate. These themes are also featured in one of his famous play, Romeo and Juliet, which was a story about two teenagers in love who were doomed from the start, their families were sworn enemies and in the end they died to be together. Intertextuality is the interrelationship between texts, especially works of literature.
The 1968 film, Romeo and Juliet, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, was an interpretation of the play in a more modernised way, meaning that no prior knowledge of the story would be needed. He based his film solemnly on the play so that he could re-tell the story and educate people further more in a more visual way. This text and the original are fairly similar though there are minor things that differ between the two. What Zeffirelli excluded were important scenes such as Romeo killing Paris in the vault. He also altered Tybalt’s reaction when he stabbed Mercutio in the town square, changing his facial expression and emotion from angry to sad and regretful (in the film). Everything else such as the dialogue, character names and personalities, costuming, setting and main themes: young love, murder, hate, violence, struggle, difference, determination, faith, teenage angst, suicide and revenge were all kept the same. Because Zeffirelli’s version portrayed violent and romantic scenes, the intended audience would most likely be aimed at teenagers and adults. This source is a very good representation of the original play that can be used by others today but also in the future. It transforms the play into a motion picture that clarifies and makes the story easier for a wider range of people to understand.
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Another example of intertextuality of Romeo and Juliet is a cartoon designed by Sangria.net: Nicorette and Juliet. This texted took the balcony scene from the play and modified it into a representation of today’s society. The message it conveys is that over the years the number of smokers has risen dramatically and now more than ever people are aware of the effects that smoking can cause and are trying to quite, hence the rejection of Romeo and the need for Nicorette gum. The themes foregrounded are: Rejection, love, desperation, hate, jealousy and addiction. This cartoon/advertisement is aimed at smokers and could also be aimed at kids and teenagers so that they know that smoking is a bad thing and should be stop. It’s similar in a sense that, the language used is … and like in the script – Romeo is below calling out to Juliet and Juliet is out on the balcony although in this version rather than Juliet needing Romeo she rejects him and calls out for Nicorette Gum which is the difference between the two texts. Not much prior knowledge would be required to know that this is from Romeo and Juliet, but general background knowledge would help. This cartoon is (literary value of text)
For the past 400 years directors, artists, singers ect have used Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as inspiration or a starting point for their creations, adding a twist or something relevant to the 21st century along the way. His works have had the most impact on our culture and language and his timeless themes have helped him carry on the legacy making them relevant and accessible to contemporary audiences. Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet and Sangria.net’s Nicorette and Juliet are only two examples of the thousands that have been enthused by the play. Examples such as these which can then be used/analysed in the near future as good modern illustrations of the play.