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Colin Young (film educator)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Colin Young CBE (5 April 1927 – 27 November 2021) was a British film educator, chairman of the School of Theater, Film and Television at UCLA, founder of the film program at Rice University, Houston, Texas, and the first director of the British National Film and Television School. He was awarded a BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award, the highest honor of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, in 1993.

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"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." When we made Shakespeare in Love, an entertaining and fictional look at William Shakespeare's life, myself and the entire cast learned a great deal about William Shakespeare and the magical passionate world in which he lived. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to bring this world into your classroom. We're going to take a look at the playwright's life and his works, and also attempt to unlock the emotional power in Shakespeare's words. By using examples from his classic play Romeo and Juliet, we'll try to show you just how forcefully they speak to us today. But the first question we need to ask before we embark on our journey is why Shakespeare? Why out of those thousands upon thousands of writers that have come and gone over the past 400 years does Shakespeare continue to be performed in every corner of the world? Why are we still so fascinated by these plays that were written so long ago? The most likely reason is probably that Shakespeare, better than any writer before or since, understood exactly what makes people tick. And he was able to transform that understanding into the most powerful portrayals of human relationships ever written. But what do we really know about Shakespeare, the man? Surely with all those great plays and over 4 centuries of scholarly research, there must be enough biographical material to fill a library, right? Wrong. Believe it or not, every fact we know for sure about the life of Shakespeare can fit on a tiny piece of paper. Fact 1. He was christened in Stratford-upon-Avon on April 26, 1564. Actually we're not even sure of the day of his birth. It's traditionally given as April 23rd, but that may be because he died on that date. Fact 2. On November 27, 1582, when he was 18, a license was issued for his marriage to Ann Hathaway. Fact number 3. May 26, 1583, their daughter Susanna was christened. Two years later on February 2, 1585, we have a record of the christening of two more children, twins named Judith and Hamnet. Fact number 4. 1592, Shakespeare's name first appeared in print in an attack by a fellow writer named Robert Greene, who called Will an upstart crow for presuming to write as well as a university educated man. And fact number 5, the final fact we know for sure about the life of William Shakespeare is that on April 23, 1616 he died in Stratford-upon-Avon, and was buried in the same church where he was born. That's it. Isn't that incredible that so little is known about the world's greatest playwright? But, of course, we know much more about Shakespeare than any biography could ever tell us because we have the wonderful plays and poems he left us. And through them we can enter his imagination. And what an imagination it is. "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks. It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, who is already sick and pale with grief, that thou, her maid, art far more fair than she." Never has there been an imagination so rich or so inclusive. It's easy to forget that Shakespeare, in his time, was a very popular playwright, who wrote for and about people at all levels of society. And in every period since then, his universal understanding of the human condition has made his work seem contemporary. And why not? When the subjects he wrote about are the stuff of today's headlines-- power, war, violence, and passion. In Hamlet you have the ultimate dysfunctional family. In Macbeth you have the very extreme of political ambition. And in Romeo and Juliet you have the world's greatest story of young love. That's why it's nothing short of a Shakespearian tragedy that this great playwright is so often thought of as boring, incomprehensible and inaccessible, a dusty icon on a museum shelf. In one sense, Shakespeare was just like the rest of us. And there must have been a time in his youth when nobody knew he was a genius. That concept was the inspiration for the film Shakespeare in Love. We imagined Will as a struggling young actor, and we tried to have some fun with what might have been the sources of his inspiration. Now it's comedy they want. Will, comedy, like Romeo and Ethel. Who wrote that? Nobody. You were writing it for me. I gave you £3 a month since. Half of what you owe me. I'm still due for One Gentlemen of Verona. Will, what is money to you and me? I, your patron, you, my wordwright. When the plague lifts, Burbage will have a new play by Christopher Marlowe for the Curtain. I will have nothing for the Rose. Mr. Henslowe, will you lend me £50? Fifty pounds? What for? Burbage offers me a partnership in the Chamberlain's Men for £50. My days as a hired player are over. Oh, cut out my heart. Throw my liver to the dogs. No then? ( indistinct shouting ) The London of 1593 was a world of dramatic contrasts, a town of great palaces and dark hidden alleyways, of stately manor houses and raucous taverns. It was a world where violence could flare at the slightest provocation, and where the Black Death could strike down anyone, rich or poor, at any moment. What have I done, Mr. Fennyman? The theaters have all been closed down by the plague. Oh, that. By order of the Master of the Revels. Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theater business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster. Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well. How? I don't know. It's a mystery. It was also a romantic world of poetry, passion and the theater. Playgoing was the great common denominator in this unruly society, a place where all were welcome and everyone became equal for a few hours. Well, not quite equal. The groundlings paid a penny to stand in the open air in front of the stage and the rest of the audience paid tuppence for a seat under the roof. And for another penny they could rent a cushion. When I began to research Elizabethan England, I saw that all the theaters of the time were all more or less circular amphitheaters with many sides. They were constructed mainly of wood and generally had a large open area, either paved or just bare earth in front of the stage, which usually projected out in the audience area. JOSEPH: Performances were held in the afternoon for the simple reason that most of the lighting had to be supplied by the sun. Now you may be asking yourselves, what happened to the groundlings when it rained? Well, they go wet, of course. You get what you pay for, I suppose. Plays generally lasted several hours, and there were no restrooms and no intermissions. I'll let you draw your own conclusions as to how this affected the general atmosphere. MARTIN: In 1593, two of the major theaters were the Rose and the Curtain. Most likely they were not very clean and neat. So we decided to make the Rose look properly rickety, grubby, smelly, and rain drenched, as if it were just getting by on a wing and a prayer financially, which it probably was much of the time. In fact, saving money was the main reason playhouses didn't use much in the way of sets. Instead, they relied on a more cheap and cheerful resource to set the scene, playwrights. Writers often found it necessary to paint pictures with words at the top of scenes just to keep the audience informed as to where they were. Costumes, on the other hand, were often quite elegant and flamboyant and provided the color and flash that was lacking in the minimal scenery. In Shakespeare's time, theaters didn't have the technical capabilities we have today, like lighting and sound effects. They only had actors and costumes performing in broad daylight. And since clothing in those days invariably reflected social status, there was a striking contrast between the appearance of the actors and the groundlings. The common folk generally dressed in plain earth-colored outfits of homespun wool or linen, whereas the upper-classes tended to wear richly colored outfits in exotic fabric such as silk, satin and velvet. Even the amount of clothing one wore indicated prosperity. So people would wear several layers of it to showcase their affluence. Men would actually pad their tummies to create an added illusion of wealth showing they could afford to eat well. This was called a peascod belly. The costumes used by Elizabethan theaters were generally gifts of wealthy benefactors. They would have been items of their own clothing that they have grown tired off. They were considered the greatest asset a theater company had because they provided a dazzling equivalent of today's special effects. Here were all these groundlings in their grubby, drab working clothes, and suddenly all these extraordinary colorful apparitions would appear on stage in front of them and lift them out of their everyday world into some magical dimension. In Shakespeare in Love, you can get a sense of the effect this must have had when you see the shimmering vision of Gwyneth Paltrow making her astonishing entrance as Juliet. Juliet! How now, who calls? Your mother. Your mother. JULIET: Madam, I am here. What is your will? This is the matter. Nurse, give leave awhile. We must talk in secret. Nurse, come back again. I have remembered me. Thou's hear our counsel. Although in real life in the Elizabethan times Gwyneth's stage costume as Juliet would have been contemporary, I decided to take artistic license and to make the costumes for our film's version of Romeo and Juliet from the Renaissance period. This was in order to differentiate between the characters' everyday clothes and their stage costumes. Of course, not all the color in Elizabethan playhouses was on the stage. There were plenty of fashionable blue-bloods up in the audience as well. And you could pretty much tell their rank by the colors they wore. It was actually illegal for anyone below the rank of count or countess to wear purple. And they probably couldn't afford it even if they wanted to. Purple dye was outrageously expensive because it could only be extracted by laboriously crushing thousands of tiny sea snails. Of course, the Queen could wear purple, crimson, gold, silver, whatever she liked. And so after researching all the portraits I could find, I decided to let my imagination run wild on Elizabeth's costumes, resulting in this peacock gown. After all, Elizabeth was like the theatrical character she loved, several times larger than life. Can a play show us the very truth and nature of love? I bear witness to the wager and will be the judge of it as occasion arises. This was an exciting time in the history of theater. The permanent playhouse as we know it was less than a generation old. And the theater people of Shakespeare's time were literally inventing modern entertainment. For the first time in history you had writers writing for real theaters. You had people like me who were actually making a living doing this kind of work. And as in any startup business, you had a lot of people looking to get rich and fierce rivalries for the best writers, the best actors and of course, for the patronage of the ticket buyers. In other words, you had the beginnings of all the things we associate with modern show business. The character I play, Philip Henslowe, actually existed. He owned and ran the Rose theater. And we know from his diary that like most of the entrepreneurs of his time, he had his hand in many businesses. Like many business people today, he probably had to stay diversified to make a living. The London City officials hated and feared the theater, and would often close them for next to no reason at all. They thought the theater fell prey to what they called moral diseases, as it attracted pickpockets, prostitutes and con artists, and because it lured journeyman workers away from their jobs in the middle of the day. They also saw the theater as a place where the plague was spread. And considering how closely the groundlings were packed together, they might have had a point there. But when you compare theater to other popular entertainments of the time, like public executions and witch burnings, the city fathers seemed to have been over-reacting a bit. Nevertheless, there were all kinds of draconian regulations for theaters, such as the law against women appearing on the stage. And an official called the Master of the Revels was responsible for enforcing them. Mr. Tilney, what is this? Sedition and indecency. Master of the Revels, sir. She's over here. Where, boy? There. I saw her bubbies. So a woman on the stage. A woman! I say this theater is closed! Why, sir? For lewdness and unshamedfacedness! And for displaying a female on the public stage! ( screaming ) Not him, her. That's who I meant. He's a woman. This theater is closed. Notice will be posted! When a theater was closed down, the theater owner could run into money troubles very quickly. Aah! I can pay you. When? Two weeks. Three weeks at the most. Oh, for pity's sake! Take them out. Where will you find... Sixteen pounds, five shillings and nine pence. Including interest, in 3 weeks. I have a wonderful new play. Put them back in. It's a comedy. Cut off his nose. It's a new comedy by William Shakespeare. Yes, a good play, a popular play, a palpable hit as it were could change a theater's fortunes overnight. And playwrights like Shakespeare were encouraged to write plays containing all the ingredients to traditionally made for commercial success. A pirate king, a shipwreck, a smidgen of romance, and of course a bit with a dog. ( laughter ) Hey, if the queen laughs, everybody laughs, right? So comedy was good and love was important, but one mustn't forget a bit of bloodshed. It appears there were lots of discerning critics who wouldn't even go to a play unless it had at least one good stabbing. I was in a play. They cut my head off in Titus Andronicus. When I write plays, they'll be like Titus. You admire it. I liked it when they cut heads off, and the daughter mutilated with knives. What's your name? John Webster. ( cat meows ) Here, kitty, kitty. Ah, but the play is not the only thing, is it? I ask you, where would the playwrights be without great actors to bring their words to life? In Elizabethan England, the stars brought the audiences into the theaters even more than the plays. And my character in Shakespeare in Love, Ned Alleyn, was based on a real superstar, sort of the Tom Cruise of his day. The Admiral's Men are returned to the house! ( all cheering ) Ned! Henslowe! Good to see you. Who is this? Silence, you dog! I am Hieronimo. I am Tamburlaine. I am Faustus. I am Barabbas, the Jew of Malta. Oh, yes, Master Will, I am Henry VI. What is the play, and what is my part? Uh, one moment, sir. Who are you? I'm, um, I'm the money. Then you may remain, so long as you remain silent. Pay attention. You will see how genius creates a legend. Thank you, sir. We are in desperate want of a Mercutio, Ned. A young nobleman of Verona. Mm-hmm. And the title of this piece? Mercutio. Is it? I will play him. In 1593, Alleyn was certainly a bigger name than Shakespeare. At that time Christopher Marlowe was the most popular playwright. You see, Marlowe had practically invented the method of building a part for a star, which is what he did with the role of Tamburlaine the Great, the performance that really launched Ned Alleyn's career. Playwrights like Shakespeare knew they had to please stars like Ned Alleyn by offering them fat, juicy parts with a lot of flash and pizzazz. There. You have this duel. A skirmish of words and swords such as I never wrote, nor anyone. He dies with such passion and poetry as you ever heard. "A plague on both your houses!" He dies? Players like Ned Alleyn were not only important because they themselves were so crucial to the success of a production, but because they were the leaders of a whole company of actors. Alleyn, for example, was the lead actor of a troop called the Admiral's Men. These were the true professionals. Without their participation, a theater manager would have to round up whatever scurvy rogues he could scrape out of the bottom of the barrel to populate his productions. ( whistles ) Ned Alleyn and the Admiral's Men are out on tour. I need actors. ( all shouting ) Those of you who are unknown will have a chance to be known. What about the money, Mr. Henslowe? It won't cost you a penny. ( all laughing ) Auditions in half an hour. Rehearsal time was ridiculously short. Plays were often put up in less than a week. And a leading man might be expected to memorize hundreds of lines in a day. Even then the theaters could only afford to run the play for 3 or 4 days. And while it was running, the actors might be rehearsing for the next play. That is quite remarkable when you compare it to today's theater, where most plays have rehearsal period of many weeks and are often performed for months and months and sometimes years. This might tell you something about why professionals like the Admiral's Men were sought-after commodities. Notice that it's the Admiral's Men, not women. As you just heard, the women's parts in those days were all played by men because it was forbidden by law for women to appear on the stage. A thousand times, goodnight. A thousand times the worse to want thy light. I cannot move in this dress. It makes me look like a pig. All in all, this was just another example of the abysmal status women had in those days. They couldn't vote. They had hardly any legal rights. And for the most part, the only education they got was in piety, chastity and domestic skills. Under no circumstances could they be lawyers or doctors or teachers. For women, the number one job was marriage, arranged marriage. Upper class marriages were used solely to gain property and forge family alliances. SIR ROBERT: She's a beauty, my lord, as would take a king to church for the dowry of a nutmeg. My plantations in Virginia are not mortgaged for a nutmeg. I have an ancient name which will bring you preferment when your grandson is a Wessex. Is she fertile? She will breed. If she do not, send her back. Is she obedient? As any mule in Christendom. But if you are the man to ride her, there are rubies in the saddlebag. I like her. And that was that. It made absolutely no difference whether or not love was involved. In 16th century England, sons and daughters, especially daughters, were expected to honor their parents by obeying them. Do you intend to marry, my lord? Your father should keep you better informed. He has bought me for you. He returns from his estates to see us married 2 weeks from Saturday. Why me? It was your eyes. No, your lips. Ugh! Will you defy your father and your Queen? The Queen has consented? She wants to inspect you at Greenwich, come Sunday. Be submissive, modest, grateful and brief. I will do my duty, my lord. Isn't it ironic that the most powerful individual in this male-dominated society was a woman? Queen Elizabeth, Elizabeth I. In the name of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth! Mr. Tilney! Have a care with my name. You will wear it out. In 1593, Elizabeth had been on the throne for 40 years. She was a wise and stern ruler who worked extremely hard and loved to shed the cares of her office by attending theatrical performances. Do you love stories of kings and queens? Of feats of arms? Or is it courtly love? I love theater. To have stories acted for me by a company of fellows is indeed-- They're not acted for you, they are acted for me. Thank goodness Elizabeth loved the theater. If she hadn't, the city fathers who were all straight-laced businessmen would almost certainly have permanently shut down the playhouse just to keep their workers from sneaking off to the theater in the middle of the day. So in a very real sense, it can be said we probably wouldn't have had the great works of Marlowe, Shakespeare or Ben Jonson today if the Queen hadn't liked plays. Elizabeth was a 16th century version of today's workaholic. She never married and was known as the Virgin Queen. She had no family obligations to speak of. So why shouldn't she have had a bit of entertainment in her life? But for Elizabeth, the theater was as much a learning experience as a diversion. To master the many roles she was called upon to play at court, she needed to be an actress of sorts. Still, one would think that being such a lover of the theater Elizabeth must have been something of a romantic. So why didn't she marry? Well, it wasn't because she had bad dental work. By the way, I'd like everyone to know that those teeth in the film were not mine. And it wasn't because she only bathed three or four times a year. In fact, that was three or four times more than most of her subjects. The fact is, that if Elizabeth had wanted to marry, she would have had the pick of any number of courtiers who were more than ready to be of service. Too late, too late. The reason Elizabeth didn't marry was because it served her so well to remain single, especially when it came to foreign policy. At a crucial stage in negotiations with a foreign power, she could bring out the possibility of matrimony and then take it away again as soon as she got what she wanted. Of course, Elizabeth had special privileges far beyond ordinary women of her time. But then, she was the queen for heaven's sake. She was an extraordinarily shrewd and well educated woman. She'd studied Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, Flemish, mathematics, astronomy, and history, all by the time she was 12 years old. And you think you've got homework. But just because she got all these privileges and all this power, don't think for a minute that Elizabeth's life was a bed of roses. I know something of a woman in a man's profession. Yes, by God, I do know about that. No wonder she enjoyed seeing the odd play now and again. She most certainly would have sympathized with those female characters in Shakespeare's plays who put on men's clothing and took on male identities to get what they wanted. She would understand better than anyone that cross-dressing was not only a useful, delightful and dramatic device, it was Shakespeare's way of commenting on the lowly status of women in society. Passing as a man was the only way these characters would gain the kind of rights, power and freedom they could never have as a woman. Oh, yes, Elizabeth would surely understand Portia in the Merchant of Venice, Julia in Two Gentlemen of Verona, Rosalind in As You Like It, and Viola in Twelfth Night. And she would understand our Viola, created by writers Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard for Shakespeare in Love, who must disguise herself as Sir Thomas Kent in order to have the freedom to pursue her dream of becoming an actor. May I begin, sir? Your name? Thomas Kent. I would like to do a speech by a writer who commands the heart of every player. What light is light if Silvia be not seen? What joy is joy if Silvia be not by? Unless it be to think that she is by and feed upon the shadow of perfection. Except I be by Silvia in the night, there is no music in the nightingale. Unless I look on Silvia in the day, there is no day for me to look upon. She is my essence, and I leave to be if I be not-- Take off your hat. My hat? Where'd you learn how to do that? Let me see you. Take off your hat. Are you Master Shakespeare? Wait there. Wait there! Did you hear a kind of echo of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet in those lines about Silvia? What light is light if Silvia is not seen? What joy is joy if Silvia be not by? Well, if you did, there's a good reason for it. Those lines are from the Two Gentlemen of Verona, an earlier play by Shakespeare. In that play he was already investigating the very truth and nature of love. And in Romeo and Juliet, he found just the right characters and situation to achieve the seemingly impossible task of expressing it. And the way he does it is through language, extraordinary and beautiful language. The interesting thing about Shakespeare, not just Shakespeare, but it's particularly pertinent to Shakespeare, is that the way that each play is interpreted and re-interpreted each time it's performed is what in a way keeps him alive on the stage rather than just on the page. He's always going to be a good read if you know how to read him. Romeo and Juliet is really what set Shakespeare apart from the other writers of his time, you know. You can argue before Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare is not Shakespeare, he's just a man writing plays. He's promising. He's not doing much more than anybody else is doing. With Romeo and Juliet, he breaks the mold. Other playwrights of his time believed that comedies were comedies and tragedies were tragedies, and you didn't mix them. Comedies were about young lovers, they ended with marriage. Tragedies were about important people, it ended with death. He starts out Romeo and Juliet as a comedy. Romeo is walking around the stage saying, "Rosalind doesn't love me." Kind of silly. It ends with... the two young lovers committing suicide. I think in terms of feeling what the impact was for Shakespeare's audience, you have to think about the book or movie that's most impacted your life and multiply it by 10. It was just something nobody had ever seen before. It's the greatest love story ever told, it still is. Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene. From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life whose misadventured piteous overthrows doth with their death bury their parents' strife. You see? Shakespeare tells us everything really. He tells us we're in Verona in Italy, where an ancient feud between two old families, the Montagues and the Capulets, has escalated into bloody violence. And he tells us that a pair of star-crossed lovers from these two warring clans will take their lives, and with their death bury their parents' strife. In other words, their deaths will serve to put an end to the feud. Now, you'd think by telling us how the story ends right at the beginning he'd ruin it for us, but just the opposite happens. When we meet Romeo and Juliet, we instantly fall in love with them as they fall in love with each other. As they yearn for each other across this chasm of hate and violence, as they surmount every obstacle to be in each other's arms, this brilliant playwright makes us root for them to beat the odds with all our hearts. Knowing that they will die in the end just makes it all that much more intense and heartbreaking. Now that's wonderful playwriting. This story and the emotions it conjures are incredibly compelling in and of themselves. But the more you understand the language and unlock the power of the poetry, the deeper the experience gets. As an example, let's take that famous balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. We begin with Juliet speaking into the night as Romeo hides unseen under her balcony. Oh, Romeo, Romeo. Wherefore art thou, Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name. Juliet's not saying, "Where are you, Romeo?" She's asking, "Why of all things do you have to be a Montague? Please say you're not one of my family's enemies." Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I'll no longer be a Capulet. Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this? 'Tis but thy name that is my enemy. Thou art thyself, though not a Montague. What's Montague? It is not hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man. Oh, be some other name. What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title. Romeo, doff thy name, and for that name, which is no part of thee take all myself. I think what Gwen's trying to say there is, it's only your name that's a problem, it's not you. What's in a name? If a rose were called by some other name, wouldn't it still smell as sweet? It's the same with you. Give up your name and I'm yours. Romeo, unable to contain himself a moment longer, finally breaks his silence. I take thee at thy word. Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized. Henceforth I never will be Romeo. Just tell me you love me, and I'll take on a new name. Lovers can see to do their amorous rites by their own beauties, or if love be blind, it best agrees with night. Come, civil night, thou sober-suited matron, all in black, and learn me how to lose a winning match played for a pair of stainless maidenhoods. Hood my unmanned blood bating in my cheeks, with thy black mantle till strange love grow bold, think true love acted simple modesty. Come, night. Come, Romeo. Come, thou day in night, for thou wilt lie upon the wings of night whiter than new snow on a raven's back. Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-browed night, give me my Romeo. And when he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun. That was a monologue from Juliet, a role that Judi once played at the Old Vic for a Franco Zeffirelli production. In the speech, Juliet is anxiously awaiting the arrival of Romeo and lamenting the fact that her love has been confessed but not consummated. She's saying that if Romeo were a star, he would put the sun to shame and everyone would surely be in love with night. You see, you didn't need much help at all to understand those scenes. It's the color Shakespeare puts into the words that raises them above ordinary conversations. Now let's end our fun here with a look at the final scene of Romeo and Juliet in two different forms. We'll begin with the scene from Shakespeare in Love, which dramatizes how Will might have told the cast in sort of plain English how the story of Romeo and Juliet will play out. Then we'll show you what the same sequence looks like on opening night, when all the elements come together, language, character, plot, sets, costumes and that all-important ingredient, the audience. Now, before this point in the story, several critical incidents have occurred that have led to an extremely tense situation. A sympathetic friar has secretly joined Romeo and Juliet in marriage. Then, one of Juliet's cousins, Tybalt, engages Romeo's good friend Mercutio in a duel and kills him. This sends Romeo into a violent rage and he in turn kills Tybalt. Then-- Well, I'll let Will tell you. For killing Juliet's kinsman Tybalt, the one who killed Romeo's friend Mercutio, Romeo is banished. But the friar who married Romeo and Juliet-- Is that me, Will? You, Edward, the friar who married them gives Juliet a potion to drink. It is a secret potion. It makes her seeming dead. She is placed in the tomb of the Capulets. She will awake to life and love when Romeo comes to her side again. I've not said all. By maligned fate, the message goes astray which would tell Romeo of the friar's plan. He hears only that Juliet is dead. And thus he goes to the apothecary. That's me. And buys a deadly poison. He enters the tomb to say farewell to Juliet who lies there cold as death. He drinks the poison. He dies by her side, and then she wakes and sees him dead. And so Juliet takes his dagger... and kills herself. Well, that will have them rolling in the aisles. Sad and wonderful. Now let's dress the story up in poetry as we journey with our star-crossed lovers to their heartbreaking destiny. Just be aware as you're watching that this sequence is much more compressed than it is in the play. Nevertheless, it will give you a wonderful taste of the story and the effect it has on the audience. And hopefully, it will spark your enthusiasm to see how Shakespeare plays out his tale in the full version of the text. Art thou gone so? Love, lord, aye, husband, friend? I must hear from thee every day in the hour, for in a minute there are many days. Oh, by this count I shall be much in years there again I behold my Romeo. Farewell. Oh, think'st thou we shall ever meet again? Methinks I see thee, now thou art so low, as one dead at the bottom of a tomb. Either my eyesight fails or thou look'st pale. Then trust me, love, in my eyes, so do you. Dry sorrow drinks our blood. Adieu. Adieu. Take thou this vial, being then in bed, and this distilling liquor drink thou off. No warmth, no breath shall testify thou livest. And in this borrowed likeness of shrunk death thou shalt continue two and forty hours, and then awake as from a pleasant sleep. What ho! Apothecary! Come hither, man. I see that thou art poor. Hold, there is 40 ducats. Let me have a dram of poison. Such mortal drugs I have, but Mantua's law is death to any he that utters them. Art thou so-- My poverty, but not my will, consents. I pay thy poverty and not thy will. Arms, take your last embrace. And, lips, oh, you, the doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss... a dateless bargain to engrossing death. Come, bitter conduct. Come, unsavory guide. Thou, desperate pilot, now at once run on the dashing rocks, thy seasick weary bark. Here's to my love! ( gasps ) Oh, true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss... I die. ( sobbing ) ( gasping ) ( exhales deeply ) Where is my lord? I do remember well where I should be, and there I am. Where is my Romeo? Dead! ( whimpering ) What's this? A cup, closed in my true love's hand? Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end. ( audience gasps ) Oh, happy dagger, this is thy sheath. ( audience gasps ) There rest and let me die. A glooming peace this morning with it brings. The sun for sorrow will not show his head. Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things. Some shall be pardoned, and some punished, for never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo. ( applause ) Bravo! On behalf of all of us, I would like to thank you for inviting us into your classroom. Over the years, if you continue to read and watch Shakespeare's works, I promise that your interest will grow into a passion that will reward you the rest of your lives.

Early life

Young was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 5 April 1927. He graduated from the University of St Andrews with a degree in Philosophy and Morals.[1] He worked in Scotland as a film journalist before going to California to study film at UCLA, where he earned a MFA degree.[2]


At UCLA, Young moved from student to teacher, becoming chairman of the School of Theater, Film and Television in 1965. Graduates during his tenure included Francis Ford Coppola, Paul Schrader, John Milius, Haskell Wexler, Barry Levinson and Lawrence Kasdan.[1] He had a policy of employing filmmakers who were in between jobs to teach: although as David MacDougall said some of them "couldn't teach", despite that "they were infected with the virus of cinema and we caught it from them".[3]

He was particularly involved in the creation of UCLA's Ethnographic Film Program, launched in 1966 inspired by the ideas of Harold Garfinkel, intending to bring film and anthropology together.[3]

While in California, he also wrote for the University of California Press's journal Film Quarterly, becoming its LA editor.[2]

National Film and Television School

In 1970 when the decision was made to establish a national film school in the UK in order to revitalise the British film industry, Young was invited to apply to become the founding director, a post which he took up in 1971. He worked there for more than two decades, at a time when the school produced alumni including Bill Forsyth, Terence Davies, Julien Temple, Beeban Kidron, and Nick Park.[2]

Young believed the difference between film school graduates and those who learned on the job was that the former "will have their time directed by themselves in a school environment which is keyed to their development and will leave within them a spirit of an inner-directed development as opposed to the industry’s outer-directed one."[1]

He placed a particular emphasis on documentary, particularly what he called "observational cinema", which sought to avoid both melodrama and didacticism. The School produced documentarists including Nick Broomfield and Molly Dineen. He also favoured a loosely structured "active curriculum" in which students learned by working on projects rather than being taught in more formal situations.[1]

Later life

Young left the school in 1992 and founded Ateliers du Cinema Europeen in Paris, to train European film producers.[2]

Grave of Colin Young in Highgate Cemetery

He died on 27 November 2021, at the age of 94 and was buried on the eastern side of Highgate Cemetery.[4][5]


As well as the BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award he received in 1993, he received an OBE and CBE from the British government and the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from the French government.


  1. ^ a b c d Petrie, Duncan, "British Film Education and the Career of Colin Young", Journal of British Cinema and Television. Volume 1, Page 78-92 DOI 10.3366/JBCTV.2004.1.1.78, ISSN 1743-4521.
  2. ^ a b c d Petrie, Duncan, "Colin Young". Journal of British Cinema and Television. Volume 7, Page 311-323 DOI 10.3366/jbctv.2010.0008, ISSN 1743-4521
  3. ^ a b MacDougall, David, "Colin Young, Ethnographic Film and the Film Culture of the 1960s." Visual Anthropology Review. Volume 17, Issue 2, pages 81–88, September 2001
  4. ^ "NFTS Announces Passing of Founding Director Colin Young". National Film and Television School. 29 November 2021. Retrieved 29 November 2021.
  5. ^ "Colin Young Obituary: 1927–2021 (David Putttnam & Roger Crittenden)". National Film and Television School. 29 November 2021. Retrieved 29 November 2021.
This page was last edited on 29 August 2023, at 19:17
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