Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Good Parts Version


Do you remember The Princess Bride by William Goldman, or the excellent film version of that same story? I read it decades back, as a young woman with plenty of summer and a library card. The frame for it stated that it was “the good parts version” and I had never read anything like it. By that, I mean I hadn’t read a story within a framework. Of course, I hadn’t quite read anything so funny and yet so filled with adventure. Doing a “good parts” version did work for that piece.

That said, I found out on Monday that my son’s teacher skipped the end of Romeo and Juliet. Yep, you read that right. He said they were reading it aloud and their reading became laborious, so the teacher summarized the rest of the play and showed them the movie version. I asked when they stopped and he said just after Friar Lawrence gives Juliet the vial. That means he didn't get to hear the fourth act, with the magnificent soliloquy by Juliet as she debates whether or not she should take the potion. That scene is also omitted in the film version most popular with teachers.

As a former high school English teacher, I was appalled. Oh, I usually relied on a tape of professional Shakespearian actors rather than ninth graders for the reading, but by gosh, we read the whole play. Indeed, I’ve struggled with Julius Caesar and Macbeth from time to time, but anyone ought to be able to teach ninth graders (kids who are 14 and 15) a play about a pair of rebellious teenaged lovers. If you can’t, I do believe it is time to find a new line of work.

The Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta does Romeo and Juliet each year, in February , of course, so I must get tickets to that. My son deserves more than the good parts version, and so do most young people. Great stories deserve to be told, and R & J qualifies as great in my mind.

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2 Comments:

At Oct 12, 2007, 3:56:00 PM, Blogger Sun Singer said...

My two cents: the good parts versions belong in the same dump as the Readers Digest Condensed books.

Unlike the soup, adding water doesn't provide the rest of the story.

Malcolm

 
At Oct 12, 2007, 8:33:00 PM, Blogger Pamela J. Dodd said...

Yes, I was not happy with that teacher's choice.

Hubby and I took both our teens to the Shakespeare Tavern last weekend to see Macbeth, which was a really good performance. That is the usual play for October, with the witches having such a pivotal role. The entire experience is quite fun, actually. Since it is more dinner theatre than tavern, we dined on Cornish pasty and shepherd's pie.

Also, this company of actors pretty much restricts the performances to the way plays were done way back when— they use a stage which is a replica of the Globe; the sound effects are minimal; and the costumes look authentic.

Anyway, I do hope we make it back to see Romeo and Juliet in February. I really want my children to experience these plays the right way, and nowadays, schools just don't do justice to the Bard.

 

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