Review – Shakespeare Tavern’s Romeo and Juliet

I don’t know if I was any different than anyone else in class the first time we were “forced” to read Romeo and Juliet. The language was strange. The story felt too familiar – like I’d seen it a hundred times if I’d seen it once. And the idea that they needed to come up with some elaborate plan of faking death in order for the two lovers (who’d known each other about an hour before Romeo proposed to Juliet). It was just… too much.

But I didn’t hate it. I’m not sure I can fully remember how I felt about it. Just one of those things that you have to do in school. You read it, take a test or two on the material, and move on to the next classic. Occasionally they will lead you to someone becoming a favourite author (thank you Jack London for “To Build a Fire”). Sometimes you realize how much of a non-fan you are (Mr. Dickens, I’m looking at you).

 

 

Weirdly, it was the 1996 version of the play starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Claire Danes where I think I started to understand the story. Whether it was the modern setting, the delivery of the lines… maybe just hearing the words rather than reading them. Or maybe I was just in a different mindset 4 years after I’d initially read the tale. Maybe I had more knowledge about the idea for the reason I thought I’d seen the story over and over… it was because everyone was using it as a basis to tell a certain kind of story.

And with watching, the nuances of the actors’ performances lend themselves to seeing how even if I didn’t catch every word, I knew what the characters were trying to convey. Those little pieces that are completely missing from a read through.

I probably haven’t seen that version of Romeo and Juliet in over a decade, at least. But the Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta puts on the play for the month of February. Courtney and I had been threatening to go and see a play there (lived here how many years and never went, what’s wrong with us). So we finally made it this past weekend.

Have you ever had one of your favourite songs come on and for some reason, it has a slightly different context than it ever had before? Maybe you hear a group of lyrics for the first time or just are in a different moment in your life… and suddenly the song is different for you. That was this performance this weekend. It was the same play and yet little moments caught me by surprise.

  • The dialogue of Juliet’s Nurse. Multiple times she stole the scene she was in just with the energy she had at the beginning of the play. Later when she has news about Romeo, Juliet calls her old, so she has fun at her expense. Previously I’d thought of the character as someone who toys with the two main characters, but in this, I truly felt the affection she had for Juliet to the point that she put aside her own grief for Tybalt’s death because Romeo was now Juliet’s husband.
  • Mercutio is my favourite character in the play. The movie version is ever in my mind with every line of his dialogue, but in this performance, the role was further defined as someone who loves life, someone who loves Romeo, and someone who would defend his friends until the end. “A plague on both your houses.” resonates with me. The futility of the war between the families.
  • I was struck by seeing the split of the Acts of the play. Romeo is the star of the first part with Juliet not appearing for a few scenes. It was enough where at the intermission my brain was thinking “wow, I thought Juliet was in more of this play.” Of course, the second half is Juliet’s time to shine. The split makes for an interesting compare/contrast that I hadn’t expected to see going into the play.
  • Lastly, Paris and his death in the crypt. I’m not entirely sure I even knew that scene happened prior to Saturday night. So when he appeared, in grief, it adds a bit of weird context to the story. Here was a man who appeared to be fond of this girl he sought to marry. So much so that he asks that Romeo lay him beside her… perhaps he’s not the villain or idiot I’d often taken him for?

Overall it was a great night with the words of the Bard ringing in our ears. I look forward to visiting another of his timeless tales there in the future.

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By the way, did you know that I was participating in a Kickstarter for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons focused on Love, Knights, and Enchanters? It is called Love’s Labour’s Liberated. The Kickstarter runs through the end of the month. If you are a fan of roleplaying games, give it a look!

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE – POWERED by the DREAMR (PbtA) and Love’s Labour’s Liberated (5e) at Kickstarter’s Zine Quest

Love’s Labour’s Liberated introduces the theme of February, love, into your 5e campaign. Part of Kickstarter’s RPG Zine Quest, this publication focuses on a romanticized view of Cavaliers, Enchanters, Magic Items, and more for the world’s most popular roleplaying game. Each component is designed to be a hook that draws the player into the game utilizing character motivations. This zine will enhance the roleplaying flavor of the classes while offering chances for characters to buy-in to the setting and its challenges.

Focusing on a new version of the fighter archetype, the Cavalier of Love, a 5e-realized Enchanter, and Magic Items with lovely story hooks, these rules expansions ramp up the quiet moments between combat. Each chapter will lead with a stanza of poetry by Leland Beauchamp. These pieces can standalone or be combined as an adventure hook. Through this zine, you’ll experience the creator’s love of roleplaying and 5e, and be able to share it with your table.

Developed by longtime friends, novelist, John McGuire of The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, and the graphic novel, The Gilded Age, poet and gamer, Leland Beauchamp, and RPG journalist, Egg Embry of EN World, Knights of the Dinner Table, Open Gaming Network, and the Tessera Guild, this book is the culmination of years of their experiences with ROLE-playing over ROLL-playing. Available to backers as a $5 PDF or $12 print zine including the PDF, the campaign offers bonuses like the option to declare your love in the zine, create love-based magic items, or even handwritten poems. The romanticized virtues of chivalry, the mystical nature of enchantment, magic love potions, and the passion of poetry all await you in Love’s Labour’s Liberated:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/737521052/loves-labours-liberated-a-5e-rpg-zine

Love’s Labour’s Liberated for 5e by John McGuire, Leland Beauchamp, and Egg Embry. An RPG zine focusing on romance and love in fantasy is available during Kickstarter’s Zine Quest.

Read John McGuire’s thoughts on  here – http://tesseraguild.com/kickstart-the-game-loves-labours-liberated/

#LoveAtTheGamingTable #D&D #5e #ZineQuest #Kickstarter

 

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POWERED by the DREAMR is a full Powered by the Apocalypse tabletop roleplaying game in a zine, and it’s live on Kickstarter. In POWERED by the DREAMR, you are a Dreamr who possesses limitless powers within other’s dreams. Until you wake, you travel between the subconscious of sleepers, living out their dreams, searching out their secrets, or battling nightmares. Set in a dream state you and your friends collaborate on, this game maximizes the narrative rules to give each dream a surreal quality. As you navigate an ever-evolving universe of dream logic, your Moves will lead to success, reveal hidden truths, result in laughter, or unleash your character’s nightmares.

Using a variant of the Powered by the Apocalypse phenomenon (originally seen in Apocalypse World as well as Monsterhearts 2, Dungeon World, and more), this game keeps dreams vibrant and varied via random questions that alter the fantasy or reveal a characters personal demons. You decide the dream objectives you must complete before the sleeper wakes. Will you combat a supernatural killer? Steal secrets? Defend the sleeper from dream thieves? Inspire a life altering dream epiphany? Live out your fantasy life? Or something wholly original?

As part of Kickstarter’s February initiative, Zine Quest, this project is the solo debut tabletop roleplaying game by RPG journalist, Egg Embry (Knights of the Dinner Table, EN World, Open Gaming Network, Tessera Guild). Available to backers as a PDF for just $5 or $12 for the print zine and PDF. Making an RPG via Kickstarter is his dream manifest and you can share in that fantasy by checking out the POWERED by the DREAMR Kickstarter at:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/eggembry/powered-by-the-dreamr-a-pbta-rpg-zinequest

POWERED by the DREAMR by Egg Embry uses a variant of the Powered by the Apocalypse system. A full RPG in a zine that lets you live out other’s dreams or combat nightmares, it’s available through Kickstarter’s Zine Quest.

#WhatsYourDream #PoweredByTheDreamr #PbtA #ZineQuest #Kickstarter

 

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Kickstarter’s Zine Quest is live in February. This initiative recalls the nostalgia of the early days of RPGs and their zine culture. Focusing on tabletop roleplaying zines, single-color publications printed 5.5” x 8.5” (folded sheets of 8.5” x 11”). These DIY projects focus on everything RPG-related from adventures, maps, monsters to articles, RPG comics, and interviews. So far, the response has been overwhelming with over twenty projects launched and many more to come. They touch on gaming engines like 5e, Powered by the Apocalypse, The Fantasy Trip, original systems, and more. Zine Quest projects are coming from first time creators to established publishers like Steve Jackson Games, and Adventure-A-Week Games. These high-energy, passion projects await you on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/zine-quest?ref=section-homepage-promo-zine-quest