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Ricardo: Bienvenidos, mi gente. Welcome to Afterglow. Después de la obra siéntate conmigo, con un vasito de té o un traguito de ron, y charlamos. Curl up by the fire o la calidez of your radiator, or bask in the warm from your window, depending on where and when you are. Me llamó Ricardo and I'll be your host as we talk with some of the cast and crew of Romeo y Julieta. Una nueva adaptación por Saheem Ali y yo, Ricardo Pérez González.
Charlamos sobre los temas de la obra, we'll discuss the social context it touches y la mezcla de español e inglés y su [unintelligible 00:01:12] Spanglish. Primero, however, Romeo y Julieta is, of course, una de las historias de amor más famosas, so to begin our journey together, I want to ask, what does love sound like to you? ¿A qué suena el amor?
Ayanna: My partner's voice in the middle of the night is what love sounds like.
Alfredo: My first cat.
Lupita: My mom's voice.
Ayanna: My teenage son, who's a knucklehead in all the way that teenagers are, but when he laughs full out, that also sounds like love to me.
Saheem: A soft, delicious, sexy, sensuous, salsa song.
Juan: Love sounds like passion, like you know when someone is passionate about a person or a thing, like you can hear it, you can hear it in their voice.
Alfredo: It sounds pure in the sense of-- To bringing it back to cats.
Ayanna: And when my daughter, who's ten, sings.
Keren: The sound of a good song, the sound of the ocean, the sound of el coquille.
Saheem: And also the sound of feet dancing, but there's got to be dancing.
Ayanna: The love I feel for my mother, the love I feel for my children, the love I feel for my partner. Aren't there like 15 different words for love in Ancient Greek?
Florencia: I think love sounds like an effortless duet, where the other person utters something and you pick it up right where they left off. I think that in this story, Romeo and Juliet do that. They are two characters who live in metaphor and very descriptive language.
Oskar: Just think of what Romeo says, "It is the east and Juliet is the Sun." At that moment of you don't just see a person, you see a natural phenomenon that lights the world.
Jim: Every conversation comes back to Juliet's three lines, "My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love is deep, the more I give to thee, the more I have for both are infinite."
Saheem: That's love.
Ricardo: Esto es el amor y en cuanto a esta historia de amor, Public Theater Shakespeare Scholar and Residence, Ayanna Thompson, and Romeo y Julieta's translator, Alfredo Michel Modenessi discuss whose story is it? ¿Quién es el héroe de la historia, Romeo o Julieta?
Ayanna: It's definitely Juliet. Romeo is such a good patriarchal lover, which is like he only loves in constructive forms. He's constantly speaking as if he were writing a sonnet, and Juliet is just so amazing because the moment, the famous balcony scene, when she realizes that he's overheard her real thoughts, she's like, "Okay, now I could pretend that I'm not that into you and I could use patriarchal conventions, but why don't we just put that aside so that we can actually talk for real."
If you think this is a 15 year old girl who's like, "All right, you caught me. Now let's actually be real with each other." That's amazing. She is the North Star of this play.
Alfredo: She's the sun. Shakespeare is not using that only as a metaphor. He uses the name and the birthday and the sign in the Zodiac, she's a lion and that's the Sun, she's fire, she's heart, she's everything that a lion is. She is tremendous energy.
Lupita: I don't think it would be fair to say one or the other because I think it takes both their energies to make that relationship what it is.
Ricardo: Lupita Nyong'o, who played Julieta, has a slightly different take.
Lupita: It takes Romeo to scale the wall and pursue Juliet, but Juliet in many ways sets the terms of their relationship. She's the one who cuts to the chase, she's the one who's like, "Okay, is cool. You think I'm the Sun, but can we get, how are we going to make this legit?"
Ayanna: Juliet is the only one who's being active in the play and making choices that matter. Romeo is acted upon, he's exiled, he's at the whim of these emotions.
Lupita: But I also think he's at the whim of the way that he thinks love is supposed to be and she's the one who's saying, "What happens if we throw out all of these conventions and, as you say, play an active role in our lives?", and that is unbelievably threatening to a patriarchy, unbelievably threatening to the world order, and I think that's probably why it has to end in this tragedy.
Keren: ¿De quién es la historia? ¿De quién es la obra? Yo diría que del amor de ellos dos, ¿eso es una respuesta válida o quieres que te diga un personaje?
Ricardo: Esa es Keren Lugo, who played Sor Juana.
Keren: El amor puro que estas dos personas de diferentes bandos, un amor puro e incondicional, así que yo diría que ese es el personaje principal, el amor que hay entre estas dos personas de familias que se odian, el amor que nace del propio odio se puede decir.
Ricardo: Florencia Lozano, who play Capulet, a role that combined Julieta's mother and father, shares with us the emotional afterglow of playing the matriarch of La Familia, Capuleto.
Florencia: Getting to play both the mother and the father in this family, I really understood that Juliet's parents, or in my case, Juliet's parent, wants to protect her. She wants the best for her daughter. She does love her daughter madly and can't understand that she's really hurting her daughter. It was so freeing to get to be angry, I feel like a lot of the times women in literature, we can't get that angry and if we do we're the madwomen in the attic or we're the bitch, and God, the truth is, there's so much power in that anger and there's so much energy in that anger, and it was very freeing to get to have access to it in the language.
Ayanna: That's brilliant. It's brilliant in the way that it is attuned to the cultural specificities or realities in a lot of LatinX families where you do have matriarchal households. It's so powerful to think about what happens when the matriarch kicks you out, when the matriarch says, "No, you've crossed the line, you're not abiding by the structures that I have set in place, you need to go. You're banished from my household."
I think in many ways your mother saying that to you would make a young girl go to the extremes that Juliet goes to, so I don't know. For me, it's incredibly compelling and great theater. I think it's brilliant.
Florencia: I feel like we're living through this incredibly exciting, incredibly challenging time where we have the potential to dismantle that patriarchy, reconfigure power in a new way. I really never thought me too would ever happen and that gives me such hope for the future in terms of the patriarchy. Every human being suffers under that kind of system and every person internalizes it, oftentimes I have found that women, people who identify as women are the worst purpotraders of patriarchal thinking. I know, speaking for myself, I have internalized the messages that tell me that my opinion is not as important, that tell me that I have to be thin, that tell me that I have to look young, that tell me I have to be attractive, and it's really been my whole life's journey and will continue to be. I think Capulet really has internalized the patriarchy and that's where a lot of her rage comes from. That is in some ways the tragedy of the play for her, is that she couldn't bare her daughter to live the life that she lived and suffered the things she suffered, so she ended up indirectly killing her.
Ricardo: Earlier Keren mentioned love, el amor, as Romeo y Julieta's personaje principal. Before we continue our discussion of the play I want you to cierra los ojos, close your eyes, y piensa en tu primer amor, tu primer crush, pasión, flechazo. Think of your first crush as the cast and creative team of Romeo y Julieta share theirs.
Ayanna: [risas] I can name names, but I won't. Fifth grade I sat next to Jason, last name starts with an A, and he was a delightful human being. You could tell he was going to grow up to be a gentleman and I loved him hard.
Ricardo: So Jason A, if you are out there listening, the moment is passed, but just know you were loved.
Ayanna: You were loved. [risas] I love it, I love it.
Juan: There was this girl, this is in Colombia, and, God, now that you're saying this, it makes me think of the Romeo in me. That's so funny, that I had not thought about this until just now, but there was this girl, her name was Marcela. I was so in love with her that I wrote her a poem. I wrote her this like really beautiful poem and I actually read it to her in front of a bunch of people. I was like nine years old. Yes. Érase hace una vez una bella mujer, sentada y arrullada en un mundo de papel, something, something. No sé porque me llamo la atención y poquito a poco me enamoré, something like that. I was like nine, how wild is that?
But you know, it was that thing, "This is so cool, this feeling", and then I moved to the United States. God, it's tragic. I professed my love and then I had to leave the country. It was all very adult, when I think about it.
Ricardo: You were exiled to Mantua.
Juan: Yes, exactly. [risas]
Modesto: Pero, aparte, es un poco convencional. It's very conventional, because it was a teacher.
Ricardo: That's the first time we've heard that, so no es tan conventional como piensas.
Modesto: ¿De verás? ¿Cómo que la primera vez? It can't be, teachers are always, in my opinion, they're the first crushes for so many people. Mrs. Kirsley, a Spanish teacher, a woman that remains extremely important in my life because through her I learned so much.
Ricardo: Bueno, maestra, si estás escuchando, know that you were loved.
Modesto: Yes, she was.
Ricardo: And you are still loved through the impact that you have created in this world.
Modesto: Absolutely. I mean, then I lived for good.
Karen: Esto es tan aburrido, pero mi primer flechazo probablemente fue Leonardo DiCaprio. [risas] Que charra. It was Leonardo DiCaprio. My first date, I must have been like Juliet's age. I went on a date with a guy to watch Titanic and I fell in love with Leonardo DiCaprio. Recuerdo cuando en la película, yo era una nena chiquita cuando yo vi esa película. Recuerdo que en la película hay una escena que él le dice a una nena chiquita, cuando va a bailar con Kate Winslet, él le dice, "You're still my favorite girl." Yo siempre pensaba que esa era yo, he's saying that to me.
Como que, "You're still my favorite girl, Keren, but I'm going to dance with Kate Winslet now and maybe die for her at the end of this movie." At the end of the movie, I wept for his death, I keened and keened, and this poor guy was sitting next to me, the theater was clearing out and I was just crying inconsolably until the point that we were kicked out because they were like sweeping up the cinema. I was inconsolable about Leonardo DiCaprio's passing in Titanic, just mourning the death of my first love. I completely forgot about the guy who I was on a date with.
Juan: My first it was in seventh grade. I studied in a private school in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Colegio Bautista de Carolina and I had a crush on a girl. She's a really good friend now, but I was like, "Oh, my God", I was like Romeo, it was like, "[unintelligible 00:15:55] site for a near soul true beauty to this night. What the fuck?” but yes, it was my first primer desamor, I was like the first heartbreak. Her name is Glenda Liz.
Oskar: At the risk of being controversial, Chase said, "All revolutionaries are motivated by feelings of deep love," and that's true of all theater lovers as well. We fall in love with actors when we're younger and actually even when we're older, we develop crushes on people we see in plays or movies or television. Those crushes are actually just the infantile expression of the fact we feel a sense of intimacy with the people on stage. We feel connected to them, we have in the best theater that awe inspiring sense of actually knowing somebody's soul because you're sharing an incredibly intimate moment with that person.
When Romeo and Juliet do that balcony scene and they're at the Delacorte Theater and there are 2,000 people watching them, 2,000 people are with them in the most private and intimate and vulnerable moments of their lives, because we all remember and are taught what it was like to fall in love for the first time, we all remember that sense of, "Oh my gosh, nothing else mattered but her or him." The whole world took on her light, the world became beautiful because he was in it, we remember that, and one of the terrible things about being an adult is we tend to forget that, it tends to incrust us, and what the theater can do is break open that crust and remind us of the intimate reality of experience.
That's what makes life worth living. Love is the stuff of theater, whether it's a love story or not, but when it's a love story, wow.
Ricardo: Love stories take all sorts of forms, amor pa' un amante, amor pa' la familia, amor pa' nuestras raíces. Keren, Florencia, Lupita, Juan Castaño, Modesto Larssen shared their relationship to their roots.
Keren: I went to a bilingual school in Puerto Rico and ahí me enseñaron, casi todas las clases eran en inglés y los textbooks eran en inglés pero en el día a día con mi familia, amigos, maestros, yo hablaba español nada más. It's just a whole mess, un mejunje, como decimos, un mejunje de palabra but it's beautiful and I do believe that it'll become its own little thing, that really defines us.
Florencia: I feel like I'm a different person in Spanish, me siento mucho más conectada con mis emociones, con mi alma, con una persona que soy pero no soy en este país porque no hablo mucho español cuando estoy aquí. My parents are from Argentina and, "Oh my God, Argentines", we're able to laugh at ourselves, which is a real saving grace because if we weren't we'd be screwed. Part of it is too, Argentina and a lot of Latin America, God, Colombia, it kind of breaks my heart because our countries are so rich in resources.
My God. I mean, they should have the most booming economies, the people should have the best infrastructure, transportation systems, and they don't, they really don't. The corruption in those countries and frankly, what the U.S. has done all over Central and South America has robbed the country of their own riches.
Juan: Yo tengo, en mi opinión, una experiencia muy diferente, una relación muy diferente con mi país, because of the way that I had to leave. I know it's a bit of an unpopular opinion, but the truth is I would have no desire to go back to Colombia. For me that's hard to admit because Latin people are so proud of where they're from, and rightly so. Basically, the story is I grew up in Cali, Colombia, and it was extremely violent when I was living there. It was during the Cali Cartel years, so there were just murder and kidnapping.
My dad's job got really dangerous and he had to flee the country and we fled with him. Even then, when we had to leave, when we were leaving, I remember going through the airport crying because I didn't want to leave. I didn't want to leave my country.
Lupita: Romeo and Juliet was the first professional play that I did when I was 14 years old, back in Nairobi, Kenya. I was cast as Juliet and as part of that cast was a very young Saheem Ali. He was 18 at the time and he was Mercucio. Then, fast forward 12 years later, we met again in New York and he was studying to become a director and we became fast friends then. Then last year he called me up and proposed this insane idea of doing this bilingual Romeo and Juliet. Mind you, when we met, when I was 14, I didn't speak a lick of Spanish. Lo aprendí cuando tenía 16 años. Tuve un novio con quién solo hablaba en español y eso me ayudó mucho, por un par de años.
So, yes, I recommend love to learn a language, for sure. So there is that. It took all sort of life experience to get to the point where I could do this with him. Sometimes I would just, when we were rehearsing, I would look over at him and just marvel at how this two Kenyans are doing this in America and in such different capacities. To have one of your best friends direct you is really an invaluable experience. I felt really grateful to be going on this journey with him.
Keren: So many layers. I feel like, as a people, Puerto Ricans love the deepest and the fullest and that may very well be because we are in a limbo in terms of our identity. We are a Commonwealth and that, essentially, is a transitory status.
Modesto: I think the important thing is not to victimize ourselves because of that, that's it. We are a colony, is a very ambiguous status.
Keren: Right? So we're essentially either wanting to be independent or a state, but we haven't decided that yet and we've been in this limbo for a century in change. What does that do to a person's identity? I feel it affects the way that you see yourself in the world. It's constantly going between two cultures, between two languages. This is exactly what this play is. This adaptation is a play that is not in English, is not an adaptation in English, it's not an adaptation in Spanish, it's in both. So we're constantly moving from one. We're living in that space, that Puerto Ricans know very well. I feel like more and more bilingual is a reality in our world, not only as Americans, as citizens of the world.
I know very few people that are not adept at more than one language. I'm surprised that we're not doing this more.
Ricardo: Indeed. Why aren't doing this more? Saheem shows a story that demonstrates the very real world prejudices that bilingual folk and Spanish speakers face to this day.
Saheem: A couple weeks ago, two woman at the border, the US, Canadian border, were arrested because they were speaking Spanish. They are US citizens and what the Border Patrol Agent said was like, "Well, we don't have that language around here." So clearly they mistook them for being undocumented immigrants and they were US citizens. It's like 2020, how? It's just baffling.
Ricardo: What do we say to those Shakespeare purist out there who believe adapting the Bard in this way is sacrilege?
Oskar: People who talk that way about Shakespeare are not actually talking that way about Shakespeare, they're talking about their own sense of cultural property. What they are saying is that they own a certain version of the greatest poet in the English language, the greatest writer in the English language, that he is their property and that's important to make sure that he not becomes other people's property. That is a stance that I reject utterly. Shakespeare belongs to everybody, he belongs to every citizen of the world, he belongs to every historical moment.
Because he was a man of the theater, we would understand and applaud the idea that we take Shakespeare and we work with him. We don't serve him, we work in dialogue with Shakespeare. There are people who are determined to use Shakespeare to try and reinforce their own position at the top of the class hierarchy. Those people, we have nothing to say to.
James: I'm sure they are going to put on my tombstone, "He butchered Shakespeare".
Ricardo: That's Public Theatre Shakespeare Scholar and Residence, James Shapiro.
James: Somebody has to cut not just long plays into plays that we can comfortably watch in a couple of hours, but trim the fat. Scholars like to talk about the moment in which he's writing Romeo and Juliet and [unintelligible 00:26:55]. It's this great lyric period in his work. What they don't say is because they are not responsible for bringing these plays to live on stage or radio. What they don't say is, "God, there are scenes that go on forever".
There are two breeds of Shakespeareans, those who care about Shakespeare on the page, and those who care about Shakespeare on the stage. I went to High School in Brooklyn and had my first exposure to Romeo and Juliet as a 14 year old, in the annex in Midwood High School in Brooklyn. It's a tough school with not a comfortable environment. I didn't get to play it all, I didn't even get the dirty bits that everybody else in class seemed to get. I swore I'd never ever studied Shakespeare again, formally, unless I was forced to and I was never forced to.
I never took a formal course in Shakespeare in college or graduate school, but in my late teens I started bumming around Europe with my big brother, we ended up in London and I found myself at the theater. Was inexpensive, it was a way to spend an evening and I was hooked. I went back by myself the next summer for a month and see 30 plays in 30 days, all Shakespeare. So my experience is completely theatrical. I love reading Shakespeare, but I'd rather see a terrible production than sit in a room near a fireplace with a drink in hand and read through the play.
Ayanna: I do love Shakespeare and a lot of times I'm like, "But come on, it's not all good, it's not all great, and it doesn't always work theatrically." It might be fun to study on the page in a classroom but not all of it works on the stage 400 years later, and there are moments that I think are offensive now. I mean, there are racist elements, sexist element, certainly antisemitic elements that we might want to pause over and have collective conversations about if we want to leave them in, take them out, how we want to change them, if at all. So it's fine to love Shakespeare and to wrestle with him.
I think that's the best kind of art, is the art that you get to wrestle with, grapple with, struggle with, fight with. I don't know that there's any art that I just want to put up on a pedestal and worship. That's not how I interact with art. If you allow all the complexities to flourish in your production, you can wrestle individually, but you also get to wrestle collectively with your fellow audience members. I've had many conversations in bathrooms, at intermissions, with strangers about like, "What? That didn't make sense." [risas] You might not ever see that person again, but it's like we have to talk about it together.
Ricardo: Together, juntos. Romeo y Julieta, may be a tragedy pero también es una historia de amor, a story of coming together in a world that wants to keep us divided, and like all love stories, it's messy, complicated, terrible and beautiful. As we round out this afterglow, Saheem, Ayanna and Modesto, talk about the idea of reclaiming love. We asked Saheem, known among many things for his work with playwrights who sent her queer black love, such as Daniel Love and Harrison Rivers about the power of queer love today.
Saheem: It goes back to the notion of empathy and how to have stories that allow others to see us as worthy of the things that they are automatically assigned, relationships like long term relationships and like deep fulfilling love. I feel like coming to this country, a lot of the queerness that I saw on stage was almost always connected to trauma. We've seen those stories, we've told them, we don't need to be beaten over the head with those same stories, it's time to be expansive about the kinds of love that we see on stage.
So Harrison's work, Daniel's work, Jeff Augustine's work, his play in New England is just showing like a same sex biracial couple raising a biracial child in the suburbs of America. That's love, that is love too, that is a family, an American family that is trying to have a life with a troubled teen. It's important to be able to see queer love in all its forms, not just the traumatize forms. When it is, as in Daniel's play [unintelligible 00:31:48], let's see queer love in our history, let's see queer love existing with our ancestors, let's see it existing through time because we did not just appear 10 or 20 or 50, even 100 years ago, we've been around.
Ayanna: Yes, there's so much good work on the fact that for a long time there were not positive depictions of black love, that it was always kind of dehumanized or made to look monstrous or violent or fractured or whatever. I think a lot of black artists have been very thoughtful and intentional about creating pieces where there are representations of black love. When the nuclear family is reunited at the end of Pericles, every time I see that, I weep and I've seen several productions that have staged that as a black family reunion and it's almost unbearable how emotional I feel when you get to see a black husband, a black wife and a black child be reunited.
I'm even thinking about the recent movie, the 40 year, I'm going to get it wrong, not the 40 year version.
Ricardo: 40 year old version, yes.
Ayanna: Yes, it just has wonderful representations of black love and how complicated our lives are, and love is always complicated, I don't know that anyone has an uncomplicated love story, so I think it is incredible.
Modesto: Another thing that I want to talk about, black joy. I think for me, one of the many ways of resistance is joy, is being successful at your work. For me, I was raised in Louisa, Louisa is a small town in Puerto Rico, which is a majority of black people and where the African culture and history is ingrained in our food, in our culture, in our music, and to think that somebody from Louisa is in the same project as Lupita, which is from an African country and is now has been in a beautiful moment in her career, Academy Award winner, it's beautiful.
The art connects us. So for me, being part of this production is success and that's joy, and because of that, I'm resisting because society is not made for a black person to be happy or to be successful. James Baldwin, I'm paraphrasing one of his many brilliant quotes, he says that to be conscious and aware in America and to be a Negro is to be angry all the time, and that's the truth. If you're aware, you'll be angry and we have to flip the coin because that's resistance, to be happy, to be successful, to be healthy. It's a revolution. My grandparents, one of them was a fisherman and the other one worked in the sugar cane alleys in Puerto Rico. I don't know if one of them dreamt that one of their grandsons could be an actor and speak four languages and doing the things that I'm doing, because in their lifetime that wasn't accessible. We have come a long way, we have to keep pushing and getting to good trouble. That's what black love means to me, respecting and loving all our black brothers and sisters and all of their descendants, loving all the colors and all the shapes, that comes from being from this beautiful root, la raíz de África.
Ricardo: As the light of the actor [unintelligible 00:36:12] we have one final offering for you, querido público. Now is the time in our show where we play a little game, Maldito Amor, where we test the Romeo y Julieta's cast and creative team's knowledge of love, life, Shakespeare and internal organs. There are several categories of questions and you can play along with us at home. Our first category is word association, and our first question goes out to Saheem and Jim.
Jim: It's so thrilling.
Saheem: Yes. [ríe]
Ricardo: The Heroine of Much Ado About Nothing, [unintelligible 00:36:59], fictional character and champion speller Akila and honey, all have this in common.
Saheem: Wow. They come from a sting?
Ricardo: Well done, Jim, well done. That's 10 points. For you, Saheem, the judges have awarded you 5 points for your sting response.
Ricardo: All right. Moving on. Same category, word association, and we have Modesto and Ayanna.
Modesto: I'm ready.
Ricardo: The question is, the Bard of Avon, roman legionaries and [unintelligible 00:37:44], all have this in common.
Modesto: Shakespeare y Roma, shaved head. ¿Coliseo? Oh, come on.
Ayanna: Spears? [ríe]
Ricardo: 10 points to Ayanna and a bonus of 10 points for the quickest correct answer, we've had yet.
Ayanna: Take that, Jim Shapiro. [ríe]
Saheem: I love this healthy rivalry.
Ayanna: I'm coming for you, Jim. [ríe]
Ricardo: All right. Moving on. Our next category is traducción, or translation. Oskar, Alfredo and Saheem are up to bet. Contestants, I'm going to ask you to translate the famous line, "But, soft. What light through yonder window breaks?” into the language of your choice.
Saheem: I'm ready.
Oskar: My German is really terrible. [ríe] I learned it as a teenager in Switzerland, but here it goes.
Ricardo: Well, Oskar that said, you're going first. So, you speak German?
Oskar: I speak English and German and to my deep shame I don't speak Spanish. This may sound ignorant, but to me, when I hear those lovers talking in Spanish to one another, it feels like the language of love. In a way, for example, German never does. German feels like the language of politics and war.
Oskar: [German language]
Ricardo: [German language] 10 points and 10 bonus points for making the language of war and politics sound beautifully romantic. All right, Alfredo, you should have a leg upon this, being our resident translator.
Alfredo: Come on, that's so awful, because, "Soft, what light through yonder window breaks?” I can translate it to English as, "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?” It's not even the same line. I always tell them, "You want a copy? Okay, Xerox it". But you're still not getting the same line.
Ricardo: I'm going to give you 60 million points for reading the question for filth Alfredo. [laughter]
Ricardo: Well done. All right, Saheem, take us home. The language of your choice and you have five to choose from.
Saheem: [laughs] Okay. [Swahili language]
Ricardo: So beautiful, and I imagine that that was Swahili, is this true?
Saheem: Ding ding ding, you are correct. [laughs]
Ricardo: Yes, that's 10 points for me and 10 points for each of our contestants. All right, our next category is word origin. What modern quote-unquote slang word was used by Shakespeare in several of his plays? A, hella. B, dude. C, swagger. D, Kiki.
Jeremy: Wow. I'm going to draw a blank. This brings me back to when I was also 17 and I'd taken my PSAT exam and scored at a miserable level. My parents in desperation to see me go to college sent me to Kings Highway in Brooklyn where an old man with a toupee and bad clothing drilled into a dozen of us, answers like this. His name was Stanley H Kaplan. This was before the industry of Stanley H. Kaplan was born and I guarantee you that I'd be working at a counter in Brooklyn and not a Shakespeare scholar in Residence at the Public Theater, but this underscores just how bad a quiz and test taker I am.
Ricardo: Jeremy, you are doing just fine. Ayanna, care to way in, give your fellow Shakespeare scholar a hand?
Florencia: He used swag?
Ricardo: He did indeed, Florencia, he did indeed. That's 170 million points for Ayanna. Shakespeare used Swagger, Swagger ring in Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry for and King Lear so he beat Jay-Z to his swag bag by about a couple hundred years.
Ayanna: You know that Jay-Z talks about Shakespeare quite a lot?
Ayanna: He's like, "Why am I not considered the modern Shakespeare?" In fact, why not? [laughs]
Ricardo: I actually don't doubt that's why Jay shakes. Let's just call him that. JK used "swag" and "swagger" because he was conversant with that reference. I fully believe it's all Shakespearean reference. I've never heard him say that.
Ayanna: He might.
Florencia: I love it.
Ricardo: Alright, our next category is quotations. I'm going to give our contestants a series of quotations and they have to guess who said them. I have these quotations in both English and Spanish and the language I speak them in is not an indication of where they come from. Contestants can always choose to hear each quote in the opposite language. Contestants, are you ready?
Ayanna: This is where Jim will win.
Ricardo: First up in this category is once again Saheem. Who said it, Shakespeare, Calderón de la Barca, or The Situation from the Jersey Shore? "When love is not madness it is not love."
Saheem: Can you say it in Spanish?
Ricardo: Cuando el amor no es locura, no es amor.
Saheem: It's not The Situation. I'm going to go with Calderón.
Ricardo: Well done, Saheem, well done. All right, next up we have Oskar and Lupita. Who said it, Shakespeare, Calderón de la Barca, or Tiffany Pollard of I Love, New York Fame? "I am torn between what my heart wants and what my heart needs."
Lupita: I feel like that might be I love New York.
Ricardo: Lupita, you are 100% correct.
Ricardo: Tiffany Pollard of I Love New York Fame. Sorry, Oskar. All right, Keren, you're up. Who said it, Shakespeare, Calderón de la Barca or cantante famoso Ricky Martin? "Te extraño porque vive en mí--
Keren: Porque vive en mí tu recuerdo, te olvido. En cada minuto lo pienso, te extraño. Ricky Martin.
¿Cómo es? Te extraño, te olvido-- I don't remember the words, but I know that song so well.
Ricardo: 50 million points and plus 10 million points.
Keren: Oh, my God. I'm a billionaire at this point, I think.
Ricardo: You're a billionaire. You have billions of points of not only extra credit for the speed of your answer but the extra credit for that beautiful rendition.
Keren: Oh, my God. I wish I'd been ready so that I could give you an actual rendition.
Ricardo: That was divine. Next up in quotations. The library is still open for our translator Alfredo Michel Modenessi. Alfredo, who said it? Shakespeare, Calderón de la Barca or Paquita La Del Barrio.
Alfredo: That I know. Paquita I know, she's mexican.
Ricardo: The quote is, "Rata inmunda, animal rastrero". [ríe]
Alfredo: Come on, is Paquita. That's Paquita La Del Barrio. Come on, that's mostly in the song honestly.
Ricardo: Eso es, eso es. Moving on. Modesto [unintelligible 00:45:28] Who said it? Shakespeare, Calderón de la Barca o la Reina Celia Cruz? "To the ends of the earth I'll go, to find you my love". I can also read it in Spanish if you like.
Modesto: Yes, can you read it in Spanish?
Ricardo: "Al fin del mundo me iré para encontrarte mi cariñito".
Ricardo: Muy bien. Aunque me cueste la vida.
Modesto: Celia, mi esposita querida.
Ricardo: Exacto, from your role on the mini series, Celia. Now Lupita, this next one's for you. Who said it? Shakespeare, Calderón de la Barca or Nobel prize winning activist, Wangari Maathai? "When you know who you are you are free".
Lupita: Wangari Maathai.
Ricardo: A 100%. Well done Lupita. Alright. Last, but not least, Oskar, a chance to redeem yourself. Who said it? Shakespeare, Calderón de la Barca or existencial filosofer Rupaul? "The truth is we are all basically the Universe pretending to be humans for a brief moment of time".
Ricardo: A 100% Oskar. Shante you stay, well done. Well done.
Oskar: Thank you.
Ricardo: Bueno mi gente, we are nearing the end of our game. Antes de terminar we have our final category as promised. Category is, internal organs. We're going to ask, Jim, Florencia, Juan, Ariana and Lupita to weigh in. Team, our final question is, the heart, a long time symbol of love, is of course the organ that keeps our blood pumping through our bodies. However using the model of the Four Humours, popular during Shakespeare times, what organ was associated with blood? A, the gall bladder, B, the spleen, C, the liver, D, the lungs. We'll start with Jim.
Jim: I will say, and it's wrong, the liver.
Florencia: I think it's the liver.
Juan: The lungs.
Ayanna: A liver?
Ricardo: Sticking with Jim there I see. Lupita.
Ricardo: Yes Lupita. If you said liver you are correct.
Lupita: [ríe] Yes.
Ricardo: Using the model of the Four Humours, blood was associated with the liver.
Jim: We can laugh at Humoural theory, [unintelligible 00:47:58] that. People are driving by humours. One of the things I love to ask people to do when they confront Romeo and Juliet for the first time, is draw a picture of love. What they draw is a heart, or what we imagine from Hallmark cards is a heart with and arrow through it. I said, "I didn't ask you to draw a human heart being injured." Most people think of love as a heart with an arrow through it. We too have our problems with our theories about love, tell us more about ourselves than we probably want to know.
Ricardo: Bueno mi gente, mi familia, with those words of wisdom it's time to [unintelligible 00:48:49] and Adiós. Compartimos una historia de amor, tragedia, loses y games. Together we bask in the afterglow of a timeless tale que respira de nuevo contada por otras bocas. Romeo and Juliet, or rather, Romeo y Julieta. Thank you for join us, for playing along with us and for dreaming with us. Muy buenos días, take care and cuídense.
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