Romeo + Juliet: The Voice-over Poems, with photography by Strawberry Singh

Me, as Romeo, in our Second Life Dance Production of Romeo + Juliet. Photography by Strawberry Singh
Me, as Romeo, in our Second Life Dance Production of Romeo + Juliet. Photography by Strawberry Singh

We made an early choice to integrate voice-overs as a way of helping to tell the story of our star cross’d lovers in Romeo + Juliet. Drawing from Shakespeare’s own words, Purdie Silkamour, Harvey Crabsticks and I penned these little poems to precede every scene, borrowing liberally from the play itself, embedding appropriate quotations in the lines. I then performed the voice-overs using my standard audio-set up that I’ve written about before and they can be heard before every scene of our Second Life Dance Production. You can hear all voice-overs here, or see us in world on Friday at 5pm at the Basilique Playhouse:

Prologue

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,
And the continuance of their parents’ rage,
Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

(William Shakespeare)

Scene 1: Straighten Up and Fly Right

Introducing the first scene where Mercutio invites Romeo to the Capulet ball

Romeo sits with melancholy mood,
His mind on love and a family feud,
Dear Rosaline – he cannot win her heart,
Forever, it seems , they’ll be apart,
And so he mopes…distracted and forlorn
When Mercutio, his mate, appears in fine form
A Capulet Ball is held tonight!
They should go and prepare to fight!
Get up Dear Friend! Put on a smile!
Don a sword and dress in style
Plenty more fish for you there’ll be
So come to the ball and you will see!

(Purdie Silkamour)

Scene 2: Come What May

Introducing the scene where Romeo and Juliet meet at the Capulet house

The Capulet House is in full swing
For Romeo – the night – his fate will bring
Though hurt and wounded by love’s scars
Some consequence hangs in the stars
Across the Hall – a maid he spies
Her Beauty takes him by surprise
Enchanting, fair and full of grace
He is transfixed by form and face
Juliet dances in the arms of another
He is the son of the city’s guv’nor
As Romeo watches – his mind a-thrown
Vows love like this – he has never known
To woo and win and gain her trust
Dance and hold her now he must
One touch of hand – erase all sins
One kiss or two and the dance begins.

(Purdie Silkamour)

Scene 3: Fever

Introducing the Balcony Scene

Romeo, having left the feast
Is restless like a love-sick beast!
Juliet has both heart and soul
No longer lust can he control
Thus daring on to enemy ground
He tiptoes softy, makes no sound
Beneath her window drives love’s force
He speaks, unheard his soft discourse:
“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. . . .
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.”

(Purdie Silkamour)

Scene 4: Let’s Get It On

Introducing the bedroom scene

Knowing not who stands below
Juliet ponders love’s cruel blow
Why did she find a love so true
In one who is a Montague?
“O Romeo, Romeo,
wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name,
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.”
Romeo, responding to her plea
Climbs up on her balcony
Love they confess and passions rise
What happens next is no surprise.

(Purdie Silkamour)

Scene 5: Kung Fu Fighting

Introducing the scene where Mercutio is slain by Tybalt, and Romeo slays Tybalt

The lovers vow never to part
Each now holds each other’s heart
Romeo and Juliet happily wed
Agree this secret shan’t be said
So when next day in boiling sun
The Capulet men they happen upon
Romeo refuses to fight new kin
Mercutio decides to jump right in
A terrible brawl then goes ahead
Tybalt renders Mercutio dead
Then Romeo draws his gun in rage
Another death upon our stage…

(Purdie Silkamour)

Scene 6: Never Gonna Happen

Introducing the proposal of Paris to Juliet

Romeo is banished
As Juliet weeps
Her heart is famished
This price was steep
To the Friar, she resorts
Whilst Paris aims only to court
“Happily met, my lady, my wife!”
“Marry you? Not on your life!”

(Becks and Crabsticks)

Scene 7: Sleep Alone

Introducing the Scene when Juliet takes the potion

Juliet fears she shall never see
A love as true, as dear, as free
To the Friar she does run
Like the moon chasing the sun
Fear not, the friar has a plan
With patience, again she’ll see her man
A powerful potion she is to take
A peaceful death she will fake
“A sleeping beauty you shall be
Until Romeo returns to thee.
Four and twenty hours you shall sleep
But Romeo’s love, you shall keep
To the chapel, now, make haste
And his lips you soon shall taste”

(Becks and Crabsticks)

Scene 8: Wild Boys

Introducing the Scene where Romeo and Paris do battle

A forlorn Paris leaves the church,
Short and futile his romantic search.
Of Juliet’s feigned death, Romeo learns
To fair Verona, he returns
His heart pounds, his breath comes faster
the strings of love lost, his puppet master
To end his life his only plan
Lurching to the church as fast as he can
To die for love is a noble death
But it is Paris who takes one last breath.
A battle took place, a bloody fight,
Alas we know, the winner is lost this night.

(Becks and Crabsticks)

Scene 9: Romeo and Juliet

Introducing the Scene when Romeo takes his life

Desolate, distraught and full of woe
To the tomb, heads our poor Romeo
On fun’ral pyre lies his Capulet heir
Her heart still beats, yet he is not aware
Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs
Alas this sweet cloak can often disguise.
A love like this, one can not comprehend
These vi-olent delights have vi-lent ends.
And so now the time has finally come
For Juliet and Romeo to come undone.

(Becks and Crabsticks)

The epilogue

A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head:
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished:
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

(William Shakespeare)

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