It really doesn’t seem right to write about anything else, given the significance and events of these past few days. Today is the 400th anniversary since renowned English poet, playwright, and actor William Shakespeare passed away. Two days ago, Prince died.
I have my thoughts and feelings about both of these individuals. For Prince, the loss of him is definitely more hard hitting for me than when David Bowie died three months ago. Prince’s music is, what I call, “childhood sound.” I heard his music a lot when I was little, without really realizing at the time what an influential artist he was. Knowing that he’s gone now is something I still find hard to grasp, for it feels more like he disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle and no one has bothered to send out a search for him.
For Shakespeare, I like many others spent many times in high school, having sessions dedicated to reading and analyzing his works; in particular, “Romeo and Juliet” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” I acknowledge his impact as a writer, for who could claim that they’ve made up of a sleuth of words and written plays that are still commonly used and analyzed in the modern day? But what I can attest to from spending time on his work in the last theatre class I took while still in college is that after a while, he can become a bit tiring. Whether it be frustration over trying to understand his poetic language or the redundancy of particular themes, there’s a way of getting “Shakespeare-ed” out.
Similar to what I have done previously, there’s a bit of material that I want to recommend, but rather than it being something to read, it’s something to view. To be more specific, it’s a scene from a film. In Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet,” “Romeo + Juliet,” in the scene where Romeo is discussing with Friar (or in this case, Father) Lawrence his love for Juliet and his intention to marry her, a choir is singing in the background. Rather than old Latin hymns or praises to the big man upstairs, it’s a rendition of Prince’s song, “When Doves Cry,” with a young Quindon Tarver as the lead singer.
People have their opinions about this particular adaptation of this well-known Shakespeare work. While some just don’t like it, I do. I admire Luhrmann’s outrageously ambitious attempt to modernize the story, and that includes this little addition of having a choir cover Prince. Lyrically it’s fitting, for “When Doves Cry,” which was originally written by Prince for the 1984 film “Purple Rain,” is about parental troubles and a love affair… and given the two sides Romeo and Juliet hail from, it’s obvious where a connection is made.
But is there more to a lyrically fitting song by one of the most ingenious music icons ever that lends its use for a Shakespeare adaptation? For if you dig deep enough, Shakespeare and Prince do have a bit in common apart from dying at fairly young ages and in the same month. As much as Prince was an incredible music artist, remember that he was also a phenomenal songwriter. In fact, there are many songs that he had written for other people that were done under various pen names. The fact that these two men were very prolific as far as writing goes, despite being of different mediums, it’s a commonality that’s not made very often between two individuals of two very different times.
If you have access to “Romeo + Juliet,” give that particular scene a look. If you want, let me know what your thoughts are about the scene, why the director decided to make that creative decision to insert a Prince song into a Shakespeare adaptation, and also your thoughts about these two artists in their own rights.
A Moment’s Worth is now available through the following venues: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, iTunes. Please leave a review if you can, for my goal is to get a total of at least 20 reviews on all venues (so far, I’ve gotten 12 reviews so I’m already just past the halfway point to my goal). Check out its Goodreads page, which includes two trivia quizzes for all who’ve completed reading it already.