Does the tone of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet lack in spiritual discretion?

I stumbled on to an outdoor Romeo & Juliet play rehearsal in the Centennial Park, downtown Nashville TN, last Saturday 2011-08-06 after a picnic lunch. My camera and tripod were in the car. They were paid actors so I asked if I could shoot some, they said “sure”, then captured rehearsal pictures until sunset. They were two weeks into practice and had two weeks more before it opened. They said they always begin the rehearsals with the play’s fights, I think they called it “the gunfights”. So before sunset I saw several practiced sword, gun, knife fights as well as general-implements-off-destruction fights, all using props of course. Some props were not ready and they pretended to hold something. And then I saw a Juliet monologue and her faked suicide. No one had proper costume but I thought some looked hilarious in half costume. Anyway, now I have these photos. Briefly, regarding my photo use, I share my photos on the social and sharing website flickr, putting up enhanced high resolution originals for anyone to download for free, trying to post only shots that God would not be offended by. Some uploads are explicitly religious, most are more ordinary but I try to be artistically attractive. My dilemma is that I wonder if I should post any of these Shakespeare play images given the darkness of it all even though I enjoyed my time visiting with the young actors. Seems like I would be sanctioning the violence and death that we see pouring out of Hollywood. This kind of thing has always been a photography issue for myself. For moral reasons I also avoid shooting at big money pro & collegiate sports events and also avoiding midway carnivals, and avoid most modern fashion shooting too. The lines are fuzzy. I’m trying to decide if these acted fights and suicides take our eyes off the Lord too much. It’s a question to the virtue of Prudence. Does the tone of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet lack in spiritual discretion? :shrug:

Seems like I would be sanctioning the violence and death that we see pouring out of Hollywood

The Bard of Avon and his years in Hollywood are relatively unknown, you would be doing us a favour by detailing this period of his life. His drinking binges with Bogart are for example little known and then there’s the rumoured affair with a certain MM.

Shakespeare:‘Madam of your mercy I prithee wear the white robe again this night. For it is windy and I am consumed by a fever I must assuage.’

MM:-Okay honey…

It all depends on how you view the work. Personally, I think it paints a beautiful example of why suicide and violence is wrong, wrong, wrong. It was for all the violence and fighting between the Montagues and Capulets that cause the tension that led Romeo and Juliet into the situation they were in. Then, the play illustrates why suicide is never an answer. In his grief and haste to end his own pain when he is mistakenly told that his Juliet is dead, he kills himself. To his great mistake, she wasn’t dead and upon finding his dead body she kills herself.

The ending speech tells all that they are punished at the price of their children’s lives for their fighting and that peace is far better than their petty and sinful violence. Your crimes will always come home to roost, and the price is more than anyone wants to bear.

Ha! Funny~ I’m OK with Photoshop but not quite that good. There was no drinking on the set. Besides I’m a recovered alcoholic and would not entertain company like that without very high purpose. “doing us a favour by detailing this period” would not be high enough or should I say it would be too “high”.

I don’t have fourteen thousand posts yet but I do have four and am a fan of the Brit sitcom “Keeping Up Appearances”. Not too shabby.

Some good ideas. I wonder if posting one photo of a fight would catch all that. I can describe it. Have church clergy ever made formal remarks about Shakespeare?

I suspect they have made personal opinions known at points yes… but ‘forma’ remarks, well it all depends what you mean by ‘formal’.

There is a lot of ribaldry in Shakespeare. The English of his time were an earthy people, not excluding St.Thomas More (a near contemporary). It has been too long since I read Romeo & Juliet, so I won’t opine about that. But I have more recently read other plays and in ways other than that earthy ribaldry, I have come to believe Shakespeare was quite on the "straight and narrow’ when it comes to spiritual concepts. It is largely for that reason that many think he was Catholic. Some of his concepts are very consistent with Catholic theology and morality and not really so with Elizabethan Anglican beliefs and ways.

I could go on about this in other plays, but it wouldn’t be topical.

But you know, in order to see it, you kind of have to know something about Catholic teachings themselves.

Some folks don’t like Friar Laurence, though. They feel his actions and advice precipitated the tragedy and are “unbecoming” for a Catholic priest. :frowning:

If they think that, they should look up Arthur Brooke’s poem of the same name, which is basically the main source for the tragedy.
Brooke openly disapproves of the Lovers in the Preface and (good sixteenth-century Protestant that he was) warns us in the aforementioned preface against heeding the advice of friars and monks. (The poem itself is sympathetic to R & J, though).

Personally, I think Shakespeare was WAY more sympathetic to good old Friar Laurence than previous sources. OTOH, he WAS working in sixteenth-century Elizabethan England, where making Friars TOO sympathetic could get you hauled up before the local magistrate----so basically he made the good Friar somewhat comical-----but still retained the sympathy there.
And I also agree that Shakespeare was probably a secret Catholic.

My opinion, as always.

Take of it what you will.

Just something from clergy said with holy assertiveness so it has weight rather than words like light breakfast conversation which are never binding.

That sheds light. And the phonetics of “earthy ribaldry” has a fun ring to it.


Along the line of commenter Whitacre_Girl. It does seem like the Romeo & Juliet is a story about what not to do, how not to live. Maybe that kind of story is OK for a good Christian to circulate? Would you rate a movie that was authentic to the play as PG-13 or R or something else?

If the violence in Romeo and Juliet concerns you, it’s lucky you didn’t stumble onto Titus Andronicus!

Maybe spiritual direction for viewing or not viewing those plays is too personal to get an answer about on a general forum. It’s like taking a poll to discover how much should I drink or smoke or if I should do either at all.

Thanks for all the replies on this thread.

This… is just awesome. Thanks for making my day.

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