A Soundtrack for Shakespeare

A trend in Hollywood has been to take classic movies, plays, or comic books and modernize them to appeal to a new generation. That trend has made its way to an eighth grade English class at Beaver.

Shakespeare Soundtracks

After reading Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, students in Kathleen Kosberg’s class were asked to think about a movie version of the play. Would it be set in the past or present? Where would it be set? If not called Romeo and Juliet what would it be called? Which actors would play the lead roles? What is the main conflict or tension in the movie?

All of these questions needed to be answered in an introductory paragraph. Students were then asked to write one scene of their movie based on the criteria they set.

Finally, since all good movies require a soundtrack, students were to choose seven to eight songs they felt fit with their movie and write a paragraph rational for each song. Just like for a Hollywood movie, a CD was created complete with a case, cover art, and liner notes.

Continue reading for samples of the students’ work.

From All You Need is Love:

My movie will take place, in the 1980s, just outside London, England. Jameela will be played by the lovely Freida Pinto and Romeo by Rupert Grint. Lady Chishti is played by Necar Zadegan and Lord Chishti by Navid Negahban. Lord and Lady Montague are played by Craig T. Nelson and Meryl Streep. Param is acted by Tusshar Kapoor. The reason that Romeo and Jameela cannot be together is because the Chishtis are very religious. This means that they promised Jameela to a man named Param at a party she attended when she met Romeo. Jameela’s parents infuriated her because she wanted to be with her true love, Romeo. The other problem?  Even if you are not promised to someone, you have to marry an Indian man if you are an Indian girl. So even if Jameela can talk to Param and try to call of the wedding, she would still not be allowed to marry Romeo.  These rules just fuel the romance between these two young lovers...

Romeo: I walk in through the service entrance of the building, carrying a tray of cuisine for the Indian celebration I am working tonight. I proceed up the lift and into the main entrance area. Webster’s Dictionary defines work as activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result, but for me it is defined as watching people around me celebrate, mourn, eat, or do whatever else they do at large gatherings. Typically theses parties are very dull and I end up sleeping in the back and making my parents distraught, my folks forced me to work in “the family business” when I was just 10. Tonight, however, seems quite different. All around me there are bright colors, the clothes, the decorations, and even the food. There is some extreme dancing going on in the middle of the banquet hall right now. Bloody hell. Who is that gorgeous, magnificent, spectacular girl sitting at the back table? Her features and her body is so perfect it’s as if she was sculpted from clay. Please look at me. Yes! Oh those eyes, I feel myself melt into a pool of love. I must meet her.

Jameela: I am sitting at the table towards the back of the room. I have absolutely no desire to dance or have a good time right now. I have seen the men my parents have talked to, all of them seem polar opposites from me and quite frankly are very ugly. Seeing my uncles, cousins, friends, and practically everyone else I know having such a good time makes me feel even more out of place and anxious for the decision about to be made. There are two reasons everyone is here tonight. One: It is my grandmother’s eighty-fifth birthday. Two: Tonight, my parents announce who I am betrothed to, lucky me. Looking around I can see most of the waiters and busboys just staring at the middle of the hall almost as if we are aliens. They look envious, jealous, creeped-out, and about everything else. But who is that boy? The one with the angelic face and award-winning smile. His strawberry red hair makes me weak at the knees. Oh, if I only I could meet him. He is looking at me! I am now overjoyed that I decided to wear my favorite pink sari. Thank you babaji! He’s walking over!

Romeo: Hi, I’m Romeo

Jameela: Jameela Chishti.

Romeo: I’m just going to say this out straight. I think you are the most beautiful girl I have ever met and your eyes are like those of a goddess. Haha now I’m blushing.

Jameela: Why Romeo, you are ever so kind. I think you look like an angel that got lost in heaven and decided to descend upon earth.

Romeo (smiling, obviously pleased): Much obliged Ms. Jameela. Nice party you got here. Now why aren’t you dancing?

Jameela: Not really in the mood, a big decision is about to be made about my future and I want no part of it. Don’t even ask me.

Romeo: Don’t worry. Whatever it is I’m sure it will be okay. Would you dance with me? We can go somewhere else if you really want.

Jameela: I’d like that. Maybe we can go walk down by the river?

Romeo: Of course my lady.

Jameela: Oh my god he is the man of my dreams. Why can’t my parents pick him?…

From Rosa and Jonathan:

“The Very Thought of You” by  Nat “King” Cole
Theme: Love

Instead of in Romeo and Juliet when there is a balcony scene, Rosa and Jonathan will see each other again at a Jazz club. This song will be playing when Jonathan spots Rosa across the room and later follows her outside for some fresh air. This was the first song I definitely wanted in my script. When I hear this song I think of someone looking at someone from across a room that they have been thinking about all day. I thought this would be a good song to show how Rosa and Jonathan love each other from just one look. This song falls under the first love category of my script because I thought that this song would show the love that Jonathan and Rosa feel for each other already. “The mere idea of you, the longing here for you, You’ll never know how slow the moments go till I’m near to you, I see your face in every flower, Your eyes in stars above, It’s just the thought of you, The very thought of you, my love.”

From Reina and Julianne:

“Green Eyes” by Coldplay

This song would be the slow song during which Reina and Julianne meet. Although in Romeo and Juliet, the main characters meet by dancing, Reina and Julianne cannot dance at Julianne’s Sweet Sixteen because it would be obvious that they are both girls. Instead they talk in a corner and kiss quickly while everyone else is dancing. “Green Eyes” is about love, and it shares Reina’s perspective on Julianne exactly. For instance, the chorus is:

I came here with a load,
And it feels so much lighter since I met you,
And, honey, you should know,
That I could never go on without you.

Reina came to the party with the load of loving someone who does not love her, but that load is gone now that she has met Julianne. Now Reina is madly in love with Julianne and proves later that she feels she could not go on without Julianne.

One Response to A Soundtrack for Shakespeare

  1. Gabe Snyder April 20, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

    So glad that you chose to write this. I’m honored that you chose my CD cover. Ms. Kosberg, if you’re reading this, I really enjoyed this project. Lot of fun!

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