Write Again … So “Wherefore art thou?”

Published 5:32 pm Monday, June 13, 2016

“I must be gone, Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day Stands tiptoe on the misty mountaintops . . .”

That, of course, is from “Romeo and Juliet,” which we all know was written by the Bard of Avon.

Now, at this point in this week’s scribbling, probably some (many?) of my readers are considering moving on to other parts of the paper. This I understand, and quite likely you’ve already read the obituaries and “Sound Off.” I do the same thing.

But “Why Shakespeare?” you may ask. Well, it’s to set up, sort of, my little story about my approach to teaching a unit on “Romeo and Juliet” which was in the ninth grade curriculum when I was an English teacher at Manteo High School.

Now, can’t you just imagine the reaction of the youngsters when I would tell them that we were going to do a unit on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet?” Wholehearted approval and unfettered enthusiasm didn’t exactly follow my pronouncement.

Then I would tell them that, “You are actually really going to enjoy ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ You find that hard to believe, but just wait,” or something to that effect.

Before each class would begin we would go over the words — vocabulary — that they would encounter in that day’s reading. I’d have this already on the board.

I would begin by reading the parts, but after a day or so I would call on certain students to be one of the characters, and read the appropriate lines. Then, as I knew would happen, other students would want to be a part of delivering lines. They almost always really got “into it.” They, and I, had fun, learned at least a little, and certainly came to see Shakespeare in a completely different light.

When each class would complete its time with “Romeo and Juliet” I would then play the recording Andy Griffith did (which was on the flip side of “What it Was Was Football.”) The students were then able to more fully appreciate Andy’s humorous “take” on the iconic play. I told Andy once about how we did this.

And so. Enough of this for now. Yet, “…  parting is such sweet sorrow …”

Alas, I must be gone.