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Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Writing Workbooks  >  High School
Cultural Adaptation of a Classic Play  -  Two Excerpts From the Tragic Story
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From The Tragic Story of Kenke & Atsaq: a Yup'ik Adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. (Written by Andrew Allen, Katie Baldwin, Jamie Hoffman, Emily Berliner, and Sarah Bowerman). Here is an adaptation of Mercutio's famous Queen Mab speech, where he mocks Romeo's trepidation about attending the festivities because of a bad dream. Notes: Mercutio is Tuyuun (Yup'ik for "Gift"), Romeo is Kenke ("Lover"), and Benvolio is Iluraq ("cousin").

TUYUUN: 0, then I see Raven has been with you. He is the dreamer's giver and he comes in shape; Of a shadow bird, as is black as night. Pulled a group of wolves, his sled ropes made of caribou's hair; he leaves behind the smallest eggshells. His musher a small gray-coated gnat, not half so big as a round little worm pricked from the lazy finger of a slave; his toboggan is an abandoned nest. And in that array he rides night by night; over sentry's eyes as they lie asleep, through lovers brains and they dream of love; o'er a healers hand; who straight dreams on soft furs; o'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream. Which... angered Raven plagues with sickness. Because their breaths with sweet berries stained are, sometimes he rides on seeker's eyes. And dreams he of seeing the spirit world. And sometimes he comes with a rabbit's foot. Tickling a slave and dreams he of life... anew. Sometimes lust of raids, conquering, spears, of immortalized mountains; and then at last war cries in his ear, at which he wakes, And being afraid, prays to the shaman, and sleeps again. This is that very Raven that makes dogs howl in the night. And stiffens caribou hair in foul clumps, which once untangled brings dark days. This is the Raven, when aunts lie on their backs, that presses them and learns them first to bear, making healthy mothers.

This is he...


KENKE: Stop! You are rambling on about nothing!

TUYUUN: True, I am talking about dreams, which are the spawn of a bored brain. They are based on nothing but fantasy and make no sense. They are as unpredictable as the cold wind that blows across the tundra.

ILURAQ: The wind you speak of cools our food - let's go or we will be late.

KENKE: Or early, I think this is a big mistake.


From The Tragic Story of Kenke & Atsaq: a Yup'ik Adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. (Written by Andrew Allen, Katie Baldwin, Jamie Hoffman, Emily Berliner, and Sarah Bowerman). Here is an adaptation of the balcony scene. Notes: Romeo is Kenke (Lover) and Juliet is Atsaq (Berry).

KENKE: He make fun of love he's never experienced. (Atsaq enters)
But wait. Can that be Atsaq? Oh, she is like the sun in summer, reigning over men's days and nights with her beauty. Her brilliant light could hold back dark winter it's self, or failing that, creates summer at some hunter's hearth. It seems like her very eyes are speaking to me. . . Shall I reply? (Starts out, stops.) No, I can't.

ATSAQ: Ay me. . .

KENKE: She spoke! Speak again, so I can hear your musical voice.

ATSAQ: Kenke, Kenke, why must you be Kenke? Denounce your father and abandon your village, or, if you won't, swear your love to me and I'll leave my family.

KENKE: I take you at your word. If you love me, I will forsake my village.

ATSAQ: Who are you that you've been listening to my secret thoughts?

KENKE: I do not know how to tell you who I am. I hate where I am from, because it makes me an enemy to you.

ATSAQ: I've heard you speak less than a hundred words, but I know your voice. Are you not Kenke, and of the north?

KENKE: Neither, Atsaq, if either you dislike.

ATSAQ: What are you doing here? Your village is far away, and the tundra treacherous to dog teams by night, and death if any of my village finds you here.

KENKE: What obstacles can love not overcome? The river in breakup could not wash away my feelings, so your people are no danger to me.

ATSAQ: If they see you, They will kill you.

KENKE: Your eyes are more dangerous by far, more than twenty of their ivory-tipped spears. Your sweet looks protect me against their hatred.

ATSAQ: I don't want them to find you here.

KENKE: Love directed me here, and love only. Love for you could have guided across to the cracking ice floes.

ATSAQ: I wish you had not heard what I said earlier, and I should deny it. But so much for that. . . I know you will say "yes" and I believe you. But if you swear love, you may break it, for they say the Spirits laugh at lover's promises. Kenke, if you love me, be faithful. Or if you think this is too easy, I'll pretend to be fickle, so you may court me, but I'd rather not. . . I love you too much. Perhaps I should be more shy, but you overheard me already, I will be true to you only.

KENKE: Atsaq, I swear by this very river that links our two villages.

ATSAQ: Do not swear by this very river, which is never the same, which in winter icy hard, constantly changes shape and form in the seasons. Do not swear by the river, or our love may prove the same.

KENKE: What shall I swear by?

ATSAQ: Do not swear at all, of if you must, swear by yourself and I'll believe you.

KENKE: Atsaq -

ATSAQ: Do not swear. I am glad to see you, but I'm not glad that this has happened. It's too soon, too sudden, like the winter sun that disappears in an instant. Goodnight. May my love keep you safe until we meet again.

KENKE: 0, will you leave me so unsatisfied?

ATSAQ: What satisfaction would you want tonight?

KENKE: Vow that you love me, and I'll vow the same.

ATSAQ: I did vow before you asked me to, but I wish I could take it back.

KENKE: Would you want it back? Why, my love?

ATSAQ: Only to give you my vow again and again, because with love. The more I give the more I have. Oh, I hear someone. Goodbye, my love.

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