West Side Story…


… is as relevant today as it was when it first burst onto Broadway.

This Leonard Bernstein musical based on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet hits the right social and cultural issues, and makes you think. That’s why I believe every teenager should watch it.

Primarily, the rivalry is transferred from between 2 families to between 2 gangs. And as we all know gang warfare is rife on streets in cities today, just as much, if not more than it was in the 1950s. Barely a week goes by without some teenager being killed, by whatever means, by someone from a rival gang.

Over the years nothing has been learned, it seems.

As a mum to a small boy, I’m already fretting over his teenage years, which at the moment seem a lifetime away, but in reality will be upon me sooner than I can blink an eye.

What is ever gained by fighting, physically?

Why do people physically fight over the most trivial of things?

Where does it end?

SC has just started school and not a week has gone by where some charming child hasn’t physically attacked him. I don’t believe violence solves anything. So I tell him to walk away. No matter what, just walk away.

Mr Wrong No. 1 had the other approach with regard to tackling this issue with his son – he told him to fight back!

Now, my stance is if they fight back, where will it end?

I hit you, you hit me.

I hit you harder, you hit me harder.

I hit you with a stick, you hit me with a bigger stick.

I get a knife.

You get a gun.

Violence grows and no one wins!

That in essence is the crux of the whole musical. Maria (aka Juliet) says at the end of the show that she can kill now because she now hates.

Is that what all this gang warfare is about?

How can you hate someone just because they ‘hang with a different crowd’ or wear a different type trainer? You can’t really hate someone you don’t personally know, can you?

West Side Story shows that, at the end of the day, no one wins with violence or hatred, and that we need to learn tolerance and effectively ‘love thy neighbour’.

I don’t hate. For sure there have been people I have met in my life that I don’t like, but hate? No.

We’re all born different, be it hair colour, eye colour, taste in clothes, hobbies, etc. We all have good points and bad points. These should be embraced, not used as a reason for attack.

Can society change?

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