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Website & blog of Tuan Hoang, Pepperdine University

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Shakespeare

Viola the refugee

GB II Twelfth Night
APRIL 2015. Neal Kelley assists students staging Act 4 Scene 1 to a Coachella Music Festival setting.

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Please, more Romeo and Juliet in college!

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Spring 2015, finals week ~ My class read “Twelfth Night,” not “Romeo and Juliet.” But it didn’t keep two students from reaching back to ninth grade to create an amusing version of the balcony scene.

There is a contradiction about Romeo and Juliet in America: it is widely performed but little studied in college. The main reason is its elevated position in junior high and high school curriculum, one that rivals To Kill A Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye. When I asked my Great Books students about their high school exposure to Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet took the cake as the most commonly assigned play of all genres. Students cited the youth of the star-crossed lovers and the conflict of their families as primary reasons for the popularity.  It is hardly a surprise that theatrical companies and universities target young students and their teachers when offering workshops and seminars on the play. Far less common is its appearance in college courses.
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