Family ties through the ages

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 November, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 November, 2003, 12:00am

Our relationship with our parents is one of the most significant we will experience. Whether we like it or not, that first relationship - good or bad - is echoed throughout our lives.

Many writers have explored this key relationship. It was a favourite of William Shakespeare. One of the reasons his plays have stood the test of time is that love, fear and anger feel the same now as they did 400 years ago. Emotions don't change, but cultural attitudes do - as students involved in the Shakespearean segment of the Youth Arts Festival have discovered.

Director Andrea Miller had the idea of exploring parent-child relationships through several plays. The result is Way to go Will - which contains five scenes from five Shakespearean plays.

The first two - from Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet - both involve fathers being angry with their daughters for refusing to marry the men they have chosen for them. Next is a scene from King Lear, which raises the question of whether you should tell your parents what they want to hear or the truth. Then comes a scene from Macbeth, and the play concludes with a scene from A Winter's Tale.

Miller held auditions to hand-pick the cast of eight to 19-year-olds, chosen from local and international schools. She said the cast were surprised by the often aggressive attitude in Shakespeare's plays of parents towards their children.

West Island School's Richard Kennedy, 12, who plays Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, said he didn't think it was necessary for parents to shout at their children. Reasoning was a more effective way of getting your message across. And, referring to the fate of Romeo and Juliet, he said he thought people should be free to marry who they choose.

Heenu Nihalani, 15, who plays Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream, said she wasn't against arranged marriages if the couple were in love, citing her parents' relationship as an example.

Although attitudes have changed since Shakespeare's day, some things remain the same. Vanessa Lawson, a French International School student who plays King Lear's daughter Goneril, said although you should tell the truth, there are times when you are better off lying to your parents.

There will be a question and answer session after the play to allow the audience to quiz the cast on their take on child-parent relationships and how they have changed.

Way to Go Will is at the Fringe Theatre on Nov 12 and 14 at 7.30pm. Tickets cost $50 from HK Ticketing.