My last semester of college, I took and upper level Shakespeare lit/film class. One of the projects was to take the prologue of Romeo and Juliet, and take photographs of another feud (and then write a paper about it, what else is new). Being the sugar addict that I am (with thanks to my boyfriend for reminding me of this daily), I choose Pepsi and Coke for my subjects. And I wanted to see if I could get away with doing a Shakespeare project about soda (totally got an A).
So the following is my photography project, followed by long-winded and pretentious photography explanations for each shot that were in my actual paper (which somehow passed for college-acceptable).
Since they are “both alike in dignity,” the two subjects are given the same amount of emphasis. Neither is before the other, nor does either of them take up the majority of the frame. Also, a low angle shot is used to signify they both are in a place of power, at least in their minds. They are meant to look imposing to stress the power they hold over this long-time feud.
Line two describes the location, “fair Verona,” and this photo is meant to convey just that, a feeling of beauty. The close-up of the flowers, an iconic image of beauty, emphasizes that idea, and is in complete contrast to the outcome the Prologue describes.
The important moment of line three of the Prologue is the word “ancient;” This feud has been going on for a number of years. A sepia tone is used to date the photograph, giving it an ancient feel. The subjects of the image describe the rest of the line, “break to new mutiny,” or outbursts of violence, which is exactly what has happened.
Not only is this feud ancient, but it is still taking place today. Also, a group of Coke bottles are used, rather than one as in the previous shot. This is because the line speaks of multiple “hands” being unclean, or multiple people being guilty of this violence. The low angle of the shot is used here so the Coke bottles tower over the mangled Pepsi, which is seen straight on. It is the point-of-view of the victim, and his aggressors hold all the power.
Photograph five conveys lines five and six of the Prologue, which describe the birth of the “pair of star-crossed lovers,” the two who will defy the feud. Though capturing an image of a Coke bottle being born proved to be challenging, it was made possible with the help of lead room. The smaller coke bottle, tucked inside its “mother,” is pointing to the right, with a considerable amount of space, or lead room, to the right of it. This is to convey the idea that this “child” has somewhere to go; she has all the potential in the world at this point, and only time will tell how she will use it.
This shot explicitly shows the death of our star-crossed lovers, clearly expressing line eight’s “doth with their death.” A close-up is used here to show the closeness of the two, and how the life has literally all but drained out of them.
In this shot, it is the lighting that conveys the idea of their love. Diffused three-point lighting was used to suggest the soft and gentle nature of the situation. A close-up is used here as well, and like the previous image, it communicates the closeness of this private moment.
Photograph eight was driven by the last word in line 10, “rage.” The two bottles have been filled with red to show that they are literally filled with rage. Unlike photograph one, they are not equal in the frame, and are even a bit askew. This is to express the effects of anger and how it can alter perception and reality.
Photograph nine is the long shot of photograph six. Lines eleven and twelve convey the idea that the death of their children is the only way for the parents’ rage to end. Here, looking on at their dead offspring, they have been completely drained, not only of their rage, but of everything.
Photograph ten in a sense breaks the fourth wall and shows the audience of this tragedy. Line thirteen of the Prologue does this with the use of the word “you.” This audience is made of up of both Coke and Pepsi to really drive home the idea of the futile nature of this feud. A slight low angle is used to show who truly has the power.
So there it is. This work is part of what got me a degree, part of what my tuition money was spent on. But I’m not complaining. It was fun, I learned a little something, and I was on a sugar high for literally days. All in all, not a bad class.