Oh, Romeo & Juliet, What If…?
Don’t we all love to celebrate our mothers on Mother’s Day? Whether with a phone call or flowers, brunch or a gift, it doesn’t matter except the opportunity to acknowledge the great gift they have given and are in our lives. My family are the same. This year two decided months ago to take me to a ballet production by the Royal New Zealand Ballet of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ that coincided perfectly with Mother’s Day weekend here in NZ. And so from there it snowballed into a Mother’s Day roadtrip where I visited all of them and had special time with each in their environments. What a wonderful gift!
Being welcomed into their worlds is a special honour and I wanted to enjoy every minute of it, thus the idea was conceived to draw my time with them in 5-minute sketches. There are 5 of them after all…well, there used to be before adding a son-in-law and grandbaby to the mix. This was also a way to leave the studio without actually leaving, focusing on speed drawing. Five minutes allows for no fussing over details. Of course, you need to have a tight rein on your inner talk because you can do some real doozies when moving so quickly. So, armed and eager, I kissed Hubby goodbye and set off on my journey.
I got to spend time with new Mama and cuddle that gorgeous grandbaby. It was my first time as a ‘Mummy-in-Law’ and we had a few laughs along the way. Then on to Auckland where youngest son took me for a sedate mother’s walk (not one of his normal ‘ascend the mountain’ jobs) through the bush. It had just rained heavily and the waterfalls were flowing large while the wet bush smell was intoxicating. Such a treat! There was food a-plenty all weekend both home-cooked treats and eating out, all served with lots of laughing and friendly banter. Variety was the name of the game. I kept pulling my pencils out keeping my visual diary flowing. They, used to me, waited patiently enabling my objectives.
Then came the ballet, and obviously, with the theatre in darkness there’s not a lot of opportunity to draw, but I did get a quick sketch in while we waited for it to start. A good exercise in perspective to get the feeling of depth. And then, amidst all the sumptuous period costumes, scintillating music from the live orchestra, and spectacular story-telling as the characters danced their way across the stage, I had a really random thought. “What if either Romeo or Juliet had had a different mindset?” How would the story have ended then? Perhaps even the parents/families mindset? Could any one of them have changed the whole storyline?
Shakespeare didn’t come up with the plot all by himself. According to Britannica his principal source was ‘The Tragicall Historue of Romeus and Juliet (1562), a long narrative poem by the English poet Arthur Brooke, who had based his poem on a French translation of a tale by the Italian Matteo Bandello.’ We love the tragedy of it all. We write plays, poems, theatre, musicals, ballets, you name it and we have a rendition of it, as we wallow in the sorrow and feelings. I know, I know… it’s all about unrequited love, something that we have all experienced at some time or other, but we grew through the experience, right?
As I played out differing mindsets for them all in my head, I realised it was like one of those neat books where, by turning to different pages, you get to choose the story, the journey, and ultimately the ending. And most of us, like Shakespeare, Brooke or Mandello and the thousands of other authors like them, just go along with the storyline we’ve been given. And if perchance, someone does change something in the story that creates a different ending, the audience is up in arms and causing mayhem till it’s returned to the tragedy they know and love. But what if?
What if in our own lives we took a different mindset? Sometimes I like to do just that… take a situation I am presently in and roll it round in my head, looking at it from differing perspectives. Obviously, I need to keep checking in with myself while doing this as my head can create some pretty lifelike scenarios and my body is then flooded with the adrenalin, etc, that I do not need or want. But what if? Does the situation have to be such a tragedy? Could I write a totally different storyline with an alteration in my thinking? Where would I like it to end up? What if I started by writing down the things I am grateful for to get a better handle on where things are really at? What if? What if? What if?
After three hours of magic, the performance ended with clapping and loads of applause. It was a brilliant production. The audience was happy. No throwing rotten tomatoes and demanding a re-write here. And like-wise I get to look back on my sketches and give loud praise to my family for such an enjoyable time with them all. They are all high on my grateful list. Now, to get home and do ‘show and tell’ with Hubby.