This week, we finished our acting companies - in which groups of 3 or 4 students direct, produce, and act in a scene from Romeo and Juliet - to decidedly mixed results. Some kids understand it, can figure out that they're not just up there to read a scene, and are able to include gestures and blocking and can explain why they did what they did or why they read it the way they did. Others, though, just don't. I saw the most boring Mercutio/Tybalt death scene that I've ever seen in my life on Wednesday. It made me want to cry, and definitely not in a good way.
Anyhow, now we're onto the film study. I like to show the 1996 Baz Luhrmann William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli Romeo and Juliet, concentrating on scene study. I often wish I was more well-versed in film terminology, or at least remembered more, but my Film Studies minor (all of three classes) from Michigan State is pretty dusty (all taken with this guy, who smoked like a chimney and has appeared in most of Sam Raimi's movies).
Anyhow, I've now probably seen both of these films twenty times or so, and I feel the need to comment on them throughout. Finally, today, one of my favorite students had enough of me saying things like, "Oh, by the way, the woman singing is Des'ree, who had that big hit 'You Gotta Be' back in 1997 or so, and, that song she's singing now, well Beyonce stole it from her and sang it without permission, and now she's suing her" (by the way, one kid told me, "Uh, some of us were just three years old then"), told me she hadn't signed up for a director's commentary. And she laughed and laughed. I couldn't shut up, though. I mean, that fish tank scene is so cool.
So much of my goal throughout the course is for the students to realize that the effects they notice while reading something - or, in the case of film study, watching something - are the result of choices made by the writers or the directors, and it's our job as active readers to analyze those choices and the effects they create, then why it matters. They're getting it. Luhrmann's direction of Lady Capulet makes her a comic, floozy type of character, while Zeffirelli's makes her cold and disconnected. Despite the fact that Harrold Pirreaneau is dressed as a drag queen as Mercutio, his Queen Mab speech is delivered in a very similar way to that of John McEwen, complete with the anger, sexual frustration, and eventual catharsis. Much of the balcony scene from the 1996 version doesn't work (the characters are too close to each other, there is no give and take, Juliet doesn't have the upper hand like she should), while the 1968 version is nearly perfect.
I can't stand the Romeo in the 1968 version. Never could. I think Benvolio kind of sucks, too. In the 1996 version, the characters are played exactly as I like, except for a few moments (the aforementioned Lady Capulet is one). But overall it's great and, of course, the kids love it.
Great stuff over at the Inside Ed Blog:
The challenge of co-existence
In Canton, any school unwelcome
Basically, the school system wants to open a new school in Canton, and the Cantonese are buckling. Some really interesting discussions, and some good points on both sides, but, from what I see, it mostly boils down to this: the rich white folks don't want black kids to go to school in their neighborhood. There is a lot of barely hidden racism throughout the comments, but also a lot of healthy discussion. Go over there, I recommend it.
All The Fixings - Now that the “maker movement” of 3-D printers and laser cutters is in full swing, Clive Thompson wants to see a “fixer movement” catch up: In the 20th cent...
14 minutes ago