The Ages of …. Well, Anyone … Game

Shakespeare clearly states that Juliet is 13 years old (while leaving us to guess about the age of Romeo). He less clearly states that Hamlet is 30, although he could also be 16. I’m sure there are other examples, but those are the ones that come readily to mind.
So, here’s the game. Pick a character, ideally one whose age is not spelled out in the text :), and then pick *2* different ages for that character, and tell how the story might play out differently.
This idea came up over in the Othello’s Ancient thread regarding Iago’s age. On the one hand Iago could be a seasoned old soldier, roughly the same age/experience as Othello, who would make a fairly obvious case for Iago being a jealous rival of Othello’s success. *OR* Iago could be a much younger, minor officer – someone who Othello barely gives the time of day to. That is, until Iago has the chance to say “Welll, I didn’t want to say anything, buttttt…..” and Othello suddenly cozies up to Iago as his new best friend, the new best friend that is that will spy on Desdemona for him. This would explain why Iago so easily blindsides Othello, since he’s hardly on Othello’s radar until it all goes down on stage.
Got the idea? Ok, who’s got one? We do NOT have to dig in and say “Well, yeah, no, according to historical fact that would never have happened….” It’s just supposed to be fun. Pretend you’re the director and for a given actor you’ve got to decide between casting someone of age X or age Y. Which do you pick, and how does that alter the vision?

4 thoughts on “The Ages of …. Well, Anyone … Game

  1. I'm game.

    Prince Escalus in Romeo and Juliet.

    Play him at, say, 21. He's a young man, the feud is problem he's inherited from the previous administration, and he's decided to crack down on it. He's impulsive, passionate, and contending with a problem created by his elders. In short, not that different from the title characters.

    Now, say the Prince is in his mid-forties to mid-fifties. Now he's part of the establishment, someone who's been dealing with the feud all his life, and is ratcheting up the penalty out of exasperation. Now he seems more culpable at the end of the play, because he's a member of the older generation who knows how wrong the feud is but has failed to quench it.

  2. Well, the first one that springs to mind isn't strictly my idea: Beatrice.

    Do you play her equal in age to Hero, just with a lot of feistiness? In which case, you can really explore the parallels, and maybe some resentment over the fact that Hero is higher in status through being the daughter of the household. Or do you play her as a significantly older cousin? If you do, you can play in that Beatrice and Benedick have a LOOOOONG history together, maybe sneak in some frustration and concern that this could be the aging Beatrice's last chance at love.

    I'll come back if I think of anyone myself! 🙂

  3. I like it, Alexi. I think I've seen the latter played most often. Trying to remember if I've seen a young prince. Although it clearly makes sense – he's supposed to be in charge, he tries to be in charge, he just fails at it.

  4. It's actually great you started off with Prince Escalus, because that was the problem I encountered a bit ago playing him. I'm used to playing charaters older than myself, so when the director cast an age appropriate R&J, I was a bit surprised (a 14 year old Juliet, 16 year old Romeo, I think the oldest member of the cast was Montague, at 50) I was suddenly faced with the problem of playing the Prince at 22. In short, to really get the character, I revisited Henry IV, both 1 and 2, and then read through Machiavelli's The Prince. This led to me making a character that had some interest in maintaining strife, so the houses could not unite against him, but having some difficulty controlling the situation, which led to the ratcheting up of penalties through frustration. It was also fun because that allowed the Prince to let everyone "have it" in the final scene, not quite losing his top, but close. It allowed me to show both the control as head of state, and as a young man still trying to control his temper.

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