Romeo & Juliet – Did you know?

RomeoJuliet

There have been so many stagings and re-stagings of this classic romantic tragedy that it would be impossible to count all of them. Suffice it to say that Romeo & Juliet is arguably Shakespeare’s most popular and most enduring play. Long before Leo courted Claire the basic story of the star-crossed lovers began to enthrall readers and audiences.

Did you know?

The earliest known telling of the story of two lovers without a hope dates back to between 200 and 300 AD! The story pulled from a Greek work titled The Ephesian Tale tells of two lovers who have been separated by hardships and even includes a potion that induces a deathlike sleep! About 500 years later the tale would be retold and retitled Pyramus and Thisbe.

Ironically . . .

The story of Pyramus and Thisbe made an appearance in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In that play, the tale is related by a  hapless troupe of bad actors and ends up being hilarious instead of tragic. Oh, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream was first performed about 8 years after Romeo & Juliet. Could it be that Shakespeare loved the material so much, he just couldn’t leave it alone?

Romeo in crypt

But when did Shakespeare write Romeo & Juliet?

It’s hard to say. You see, old Willie didn’t believe in publishing his work. So he didn’t. The fact that we have any of his plays at all is due to theft, piracy, and a couple of his actors looking to cash in after he died. In fact, a comprehensive collection of his works wouldn’t be compiled until seven years after his death.

But, based on records of performances and word of mouth it is believed that Shakespeare wrote the play in the early 1590’s and it was first produced around 1597.

Just think about it . . .

420 years ago people were laughing and crying with the two lovers from Verona. We can relate to their story so much that operas have been written, musical scores composed, ballets choreographed and more than 18 movie adaptations filmed! If you haven’t ever seen Romeo & Juliet performed (and you really should!) then we recommend you check out Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film version or Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 modern interpretation.

**Extra Credit**

Watch the Broadway Musical West Side Story – also an interpretation of Romeo & Juliet!

If you happen to be in San Diego March 12 & 13, you can also join California Ballet at the Balboa Theatre for the ballet adaptation of Shakespeare’s timeless romantic tragedy!

Learn More!

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