Shakespeare and YA

Last month, as it is now November (arghh! Nanowrimo!) we decided to dedicate our reading time to the many plays of Shakespeare. This was mostly because we’d have to study a lot of Shakespeare at University, and it would be great to at least know what we were reading before hand, however, own decision to read Good Old Will’s masterpieces also stems from our love of….’Ten Things I Hate About You’.

10 Things‘Ten Things I Hate About You’ is a 1999 cinematic treasure, starring Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles. Not only is it brilliant film on its own – it is also an adaptation of ‘Taming of The Shrew’ by Shakespeare. The plot consisted of a guy trying to woo a girl so that other guys can date her younger  sister, who can’t date until her older sister does. I think Shakespeare might have invented the phrase ‘cruel to be kind’, which is a very prominent theme throughout this tale. If you haven’t read the play – read it. If you haven’t seen the movie – watch it, because there’s nothing better than Shakespeare in a modern setting.

This was attempted by the 1996 adaptation of ‘Romeo + Juliet’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. However, unlike ‘Ten Things..’ this movie still uses the iambic pentameter of the original play. Romeo and Juliet is not my favourite of Shakespeare’s plays. In fact, it’s probably my least favourite, because it’s a very early example of instant-romance and there’s nothing worse than that. Much Ado

However, if we’re discussing 1990s Shakespeare movies, let’s not leave out the beautiful 1993 version of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, my favourite Shakespeare play. Yes, Keanu Reeves is about 18 years old in this movie (and looks hella fine) but otherwise, it just consists of Hogwarts teachers, mucking about in an Italian villa. Excellent.

We also read the lesser known ‘As You Like It’, as introduced to us in ‘Just One Day’ by Gayle Forman. It was alright. Yeah. But, after watching about ten minutes of the 2006 movie ‘She’s the Man’, based on ‘Twelfth Night’, and then reading the play, I was getting bored of the old ‘I’ll-dress-up-as-a-man’ plot line. (Classic Wills.) And, apparently, Olivia from my beloved ‘Lemonade Mouth’ was named after Olivia from Twelfth Night, so I suddenly understand all the references! 

Finally, let’s end with ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. My knowledge of this play, prior to reading it, was given to me by the blessed Sprouse twins in ‘The Suite Life of Zack and Cody’ (probably the best show to come out of Disney.) After reading the play, I was pleasantly surprised by how accurate the episode was in depicting the plot, with addition of a 13 year old Selena Gomez.

All in all, Shakespeare had managed to trickle into our books, our films and our everyday lives. We’ve both loved getting to read some of his most well known plays and hope to continue exploiting our school library’s endless supply of his work. My last word on the topic is: if you think you don’t like Shakespeare, just because you read it at school, read it for pleasure and then make your judgement, because I know I will be falling back on ‘Much Ado..’ when I’m feeling sad to cheer me up again.



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