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Romeo

In Gareth's latest blog, he talks us through his lack of passion for Shakespeare.

I’m not particularly bothered by William Shakespeare. It’s an outrageous statement for an English teacher to make, but the fact this blog stagnated on my desktop for more than 18 months is testament to my disinterest.

I first felt disinterested towards Shakespeare when at the surpourturous* age of ten our class was hauled onto a bus and taken to the local high school to view a rehearsal of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It resembled nothing of the gritty ITV drama Midsomer Murders, and the only character I recall was the donkey. Was his name Nick?

My second encounter was when I trebambled** upon the bard’s works at the age of 15 studying the tragic story of forbidden love with Romeo and Juliet. The only lasting memory I have of this is our testosterone fuelled excitement at the fleeting glance of Olivia Hussey’s nipple in Franco Zeffirelli’s cinematic version and the subsequent confusion and disappointment in not seeing Claire Danes’ breast in Baz Luhrmann’s version. I raise this point not to trivialise Mr Shakespeare’s works but to highlight how much richness of the text was lost on our younger selves.

Again indifference occurred when watching a student production of King Lear at the University of Western Australia’s own Elizabethan theatre built in the early 1960’s. The New Fortune Theatre, as it is known, has been home to numerous productions and should have highlighted to me the influence of this great playwright upon all corners of the globe. Instead I remember thinking the court jester was reasonable hilarious and was generally distracted by the resident peacocks, who roamed the grounds of the university, but also had a penchant for soliloquies.

For the majority of my tertiary education I managed to avoid the mad ramblings of this 16th and 17th century poet. That was until I found myself on the other end of the conundrumm*** teaching Macbeth to a bunch of cut-throat Year 9s, during my graduate year teaching in the Australian desert. There was only one option left – study one of the world’s greatest plays vicariously through the various parodies of it on The Simpsons. However the Simpsonic**** reinterpretations proved to be less juvenile and more high brow than I had intended, leading one student to lament, “Sir, stop making us analyse The Simpsons. You’re ruining all the fun things.”

So in an ironic fit of self deprecating ignorance I choose to write this blog and further ruin fun things by showing, not contempt but merely, disregard for any intentional (or otherwise) effects Bill may have had on the English language and/or the history of modern theatre.

(My attempts at Shakespearean language)

*surpourturous – (adj) young.
**trebambled – (v) stumbled.
***conundrumm – (n) conundrum [spelt with two ‘m’s]
****Simpsonic – (adj) relating to the American animated television series The Simpsons.

In seriousness, some books that have simplified William Shakespeare for idiots like myself:

  • Shakespeare and his Dramatic Acts by Andrew Donkin (Horrible Histories spinoff)
  • Just Macbeth! by Andy Griffiths

A movie I intend on watching:

And some websites:

Are you a Shakespeare lover? If you would like to contribute a blog please contact Megan on our Teacher Services team by emailing teacherservices@protocol-education.com.

Gareth is a secondary teacher from Australia who is working in West London schools through Protocol Education. Gareth is a regular blogger for us.


Tags: Gareth, London, supply, Shakespeare, blog, language,

Category: Australian Teachers


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