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For our second week we challenge you to interpret and share:
We’ve invited actors Chukwudi Iwuji, Pedro Pascal, John McGinty, and Karoline Xu to share their interpretations of this famous sonnet, in English, Spanish, and ASL.
ROMEO AND JULIET
Act Two, Scene Two
WATCH: Check out the videos from our Public Theater family for inspiration on this page.
CREATE: Get inspired! Act, sing, rewrite, translate, paint, dance – whatever moves you!
CAPTURE: Record a video or snap a photo of your work.
SHARE: Post your interpretation and share it with us and challenge your friends! Tag @PublicTheaterNY on Twitter and Instagram or @publictheater on Facebook, and be sure to use the hashtag #BraveNewShakespeare.
BONUS POINTS: Tag a friend who you think is up for the challenge.
From James Shapiro, Shakespeare Scholar in Residence at the Public Theater
Theatergoers and readers have long experienced the intense love of Romeo and Juliet vicariously, and no passage captures that intensity as memorably as the opening lines of the ‘balcony’ scene of Shakespeare’s first great love tragedy, written around 1595. This was the poet’s so-called ‘lyric period,' one in which Shakespeare was also writing many of his sonnets. The passage is richly metaphorical, as a poetic Romeo first compares Juliet to the brilliant sun (envied by a moon whose paler light is reflected from it), then likens her eyes to glittering stars, so bright they could replace those that shine in heavenly constellations. His choice of images serves to remind us that their brief time together, given their families’ “enmity,” only takes place at night.
Rereading these words today, I’m struck by another way in which our experience of it is vicarious, for as Juliet says, “the orchard walls” that Romeo has scaled “are high and hard to climb,” intended to maintain social distancing, keeping her in, and him out. At this time of near universal quarantine, when so many of us have been physically separated from those we love, it is a special pleasure to revisit lines in which Shakespeare captures both the inspiring power of love and the challenges of separation.
Try speaking the speech out loud, either alone or with others in your home.
When reading the passage, note all of the images Romeo describes (light breaking through the window, the rising of the sun, etc).
ROMEO AND JULIET
Act Two, Scene Two
By William Shakespeare
(He sees Juliet in her window up above,
unaware of Romeo’s presence below)
But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the East, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.
Be not her maid since she is envious.
Her vestal livery is but sick and green,
And none but fools do wear it. Cast it off.
It is my lady. O, it is my love!
O, that she knew she were!
She speaks, yet she says nothing. What of that?
Her eye discourses; I will answer it.
I am too bold. ’Tis not to me she speaks.
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
What if her eyes were there, they in her head?
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars
As daylight doth a lamp; her eye in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.
See how she leans her cheek upon her hand.
O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!
ROMEO Y JULIETA
Acto Segundo, Escena Segunda
Traducción de Pablo Neruda
(Julieta aparece en una ventana, arriba, sin darse
cuenta de la presencia de Romeo).
¡Silencio! ¿Qué ilumina
desde aquella ventana las tinieblas?
¡Es Julieta, es el sol en el oriente!
Surge, espléndido sol, y con tus rayos
mata a la luna enferma y envidiosa,
porque tú, su doncella, eres más clara.
No sirvas a la luna que te envidia.
¡Su manto de vestal es verde y triste,
ninguna virgen ya lo lleva, arrójalo!
¡Es ella en la ventana! ¡Es la que amo!
¡Oh, cuánto diera porque lo supiese!
Habla, aunque nada dice, no me importa,
me hablan sus ojos, les respondo a ellos.
¡Qué idea loca! ¡No es a mí a quien hablan!
Dos estrellas magníficas del cielo
ocupadas en algo allá en la altura
le piden a sus ojos que relumbren.
¿No estarán en su rostro las estrellas
y sus ojos girando por el cielo?
El fulgor de su rostro empañaría
la luz de las estrellas, como el sol
apaga las antorchas. Si sus ojos
viajaran por el cielo brillarían
haciendo que los pájaros cantaran
como si fuera el día y no la noche.
¡Ved como su mejilla está en su mano!
¡Ay, si yo fuera el guante de esa mano
y pudiera tocar esa mejilla!