Monday, March 26, 2012

Staging A Scene From Romeo + Juliet

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For my essay I’ am going to take one scene from the play ‘Romeo + Juliet’ and discuss how I would stage it for a modern audience. The famous love story is one of the most successful of all time. It was written in 155 and has been translated into many different languages. The writer, William Shakespeare is the most well-known play writer of all time. He has written such plays as - The Tempest (Comedy), Richard III (History), Macbeth (Tragedy) and Hamlet (Tragedy) All of which are in theatres today. Romeo + Juliet has also been the inspiration and the basis of many famous plays and films, Such as - West Side Story (Play), Titanic (Film)

Both of which have been very successful

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is a story of two ‘star crossed lovers’ who play out their love affair against a background of feuding and poisoned family relationships. In this essay I will be directing Act 1 scene 5. This scene is very important, as it sets where Romeo and Juliet meet, fall in love and realise each other’s identities and also it is pivotal to the play. When directing this play, acting, costumes, set lighting, and sounds needs to be considered.

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The party begins

When the party begins the use of costumes is very vital as it signifies their importance in the play. As it is a fancy dress party I think Juliet should be dressed up like a ballerina because it will emphasise that she is pure, holy and loving. Romeo should be hidden in armour because his costume will convey that he is brave and wanting to do whatever he thinks. I have suggested him to be brave as he would do anything in life to suit him but he will always protect himself. Mercutio will dress up the president of the states, as it will make him powerful and imaginative. Tybalt will be dressed as a devil. I will dress Capulet as an Indian emperor as he is the host of the party. The nurse is dressed up as nun to represent her innocence and kindness. For the servants they would be dressed up as butlers. For my characters I’ve chosen modern costumes so more young people could appreciate Romeo and Juliet, as it is closer to their generation. I will now make use of diagram to show the costume design.

This small piece is from Act 1 Scene 4 lines -114 First of all I will have Romeo and his friends in a car. This will create the position of the characters. The lighting will be of the headlights of the car. As this scene starts I will have music playing in the background. The song that will be playing is Like I Love you from Justin Timberlake. Also I think that the next scene should start off with calm music and should be pitch black. This will prove to the audience that something dramatic or different is going to happen that has not happened before. The darkness will also create tension and danger. Act 1 Scene 5 is set in the Capulets opulent and luxurious home. At the start of the scene details about the masked ball are given to create atmosphere by using different effects on stage. Lord Capulet indicates the happy lighted mood early in this scene by saying,

More lights, you knaves! And turn the tables up, and

quench the fire, the room is going to hot

For the party atmosphere I would use Elizabethan props, which would be metonymic and portable, hence, the removal of the table and the quenching of the fire. Indicate an increase in activity and a change of mood. Lord Capulet will expect every one to dance and enjoy the party atmosphere. Also, of significance is the effect of lighting. Early in the scene the stage is dark indicating danger, but as shown here, Lord Capulet calls for more lights indicating nightfall as well as enlightening of the mood, therefore enhancing the gaiety of the party scene.

In lines 1 - 15 creates a slightly humours mood by using servants, dashing across the stage, looking busy, to enhance the mood. I will also use minor characters such as servants, cleaners and guards to divert the attention of the audience away from the main characters and create a sense of anticipation. The scene opens with a sense of drama being set, a picture is painted “Away with the joint-stools, remove the court-cupboard, look to the plate”. Here the servants are rushing around and showing how busy they are to prepare the party. Also the servant’s interchange is all very quick which will give the impression of bustle and excitement.

In lines 16 - 40 we are introduced to the Capulet household, who wearing glamorous, rich costumes to impress the audience walk on stage. Immediately this will make the audience attempt to pick out Juliet who will stand out as the young beauty in the crowd, but their attention will be diverted to Lord Capulet and his conversation. When the Capulet arrives there will be sudden silence of everything. This will show Capulet is in good humor “Welcome, gentlemen, ladies that have their toes Unplaged with corns will have a bout with you” His use of good humor shows he is making the people dance and get the party going. He then welcomes his guests and chats amiably with his relatives creating the festive atmosphere. From then the music will be louder and joyful to create excitement. The song that will be playing is Rock your body. The lighting will be spotlights, strobe lighting and disco ball to create party like atmosphere.

Lord Capulet will join and welcome his guests, which eases the peace of the scene, he will also make many light hearted comments to the ladies recalling his youth and reminiscing about his past. Lord Capulet is nostalgic, comfortable and very gossipy. Lord Capulet is the caring host, determined to ensure that all his guests are happy. With music and lights this generosity and warmth pulls the audience into a warm and friendly mood.

Romeo First sees Juliet

Romeo is on the left-hand side of the stage, joking around with his friends music is normal and lighting is as well. When he sees her Romeo says “what lady’s that which doth enrich the hand of younger knight”. Romeo refers to Juliet in terms of light “she doth teach the torches to burn bright!” The image of light will always accompany the lovers. He also uses imagery to describe Juliet “It seems she hangs upon the check of night as a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear”. Romeo’s language suddenly burns with intensity; he has now taken on a richness and beauty. In lines 41 - 5 the mood changes, in this part of the play Romeo falls in love at first sight with the beautiful Juliet expressing his inner feelings in a soliloquy. This is in direct comparison with the earlier jovial and light-hearted conversation with Lord Capulet.

Romeos soliloquy is dominated by his devotion and admiration for Juliet,

O she doth teach the torches to burn bright?

Lines 50-51 show his sense of passion “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight. For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night”. In a lightning flash Romeo’s love for Juliet is complete and unchangeable. The music coincides with his movement, synchronizes his steps to meet Juliet, kind of extravagant. Lighting focuses onto them while background guests and other lighting is still the same. Spotlights are used on Romeo. When Romeo sees Juliet Romeo is awe in her beauty thinking how can someone be so beautiful. Tybalt is talking to Capulet while Romeo is starring at Juliet.

Romeo and Juliet meet

For this part I would make Romeo follow Juliet to the garden where she is taking fresh air. The garden is romantic, pretty with candles. At this moment Juliet is smelling a rose. Then the music should suddenly change to romantic music.

Romeo then reveals his face behind his mask and Juliet does not stop gazing at him. Romeo then grabs Juliet’s hands and holds them tight so he can’t lose her or let go of her. Romeo is in control whilst Juliet is still gazing at him whilst Romeo is saying his lines. Romeo looks deeply into Juliet’s eyes and finishes his words and kisses Juliet on the hand. Juliet then removes her hands away from Romeo, this demonstrates that Juliet is still too young to be going around and falling in love with people at first sight. Then Juliet speaks her lines gently and slowly which proves she is innocent and that she is still a young girl.

When Juliet is saying her lines she is walking away to the side of the garden, Romeo is dragged behind. This also suggests that Juliet is in control. She is in control as she is leading Romeo and making him what she wants him to do. After reaching to the side of the garden, where the other people at the party cannot grab attention of them. They both stand and both join hands. They both start to giggle, as both of them know there wish is coming true. Both now know that each of them loves each other as a couple in love would. They then both fall back onto a couch.

Romeo pronounces his lines and invites Juliet to join hands once again. They then both stare at each other’s hands. Then in a gentle voice Juliet claims. Then all of a sudden Juliet stands up which suggests her innocence again and it also conveys that she is still very young to fall in love. Juliet, not that ignorant to break someone’s heart so therefore she offers Romeo a drink and has one her self. Romeo then follows her and observes what she is doing very closely. Romeo has this cheeky smile upon his face and exclaims his words very romantically. He says these words romantically because Juliet is coy. If Romeo does not make Juliet love every part of him, then he might lose her. As the audience and we already know that if Romeo’s heart is broken again then his life is very incomplete as time will not pass by for him. Then Juliet stands still as a statue and stutter her lines, this illustrates that relationships do not work if they are rushed through. Romeo then pulls Juliet upon him onto the couch (face to face) and Romeo states his words with a very innocent voice.

As Romeo is in control he also starts the kissing. Juliet again stands up and walks away very slowly because she does not know if she is in the right or wrong as she is still very young. Romeo again follows her and holds her hands because he does not want to lose her, as she is coy. Romeo has to try everything to keep her. Then in a sweet and gentle voice Juliet declares her lines. Romeo has this cheeky smile upon his face again and cry’s his words whilst kneeling on the floor as if he is begging (he is).

They both start kissing and both are in control of each other as both of them think they have got each other now. They both give the same amount of love and passion to each other. Juliet then alleges her lines very gently and confusingly. She then runs away with a smile on her face. This portrays again her innocence and emphasises that she is still too young to know anything about love. The lights dim and the audience should only be able to see Romeo under a spotlight to highlight he is lonely without Juliet (someone to love and be returned that love).

There is a much slower pace in this section as there is the sonnet form with rhyming couplets to emphasise the love and romantic nature of the scene. Within the sonnet many contrasts to highlight Romeos obsession with Juliet

So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows as yonder

lady oer her fellow shows

Romeo is in a total world of his own, enraptured by the stunning beauty of Juliet. This creates a romantic but also dangerous mood in the scene as the audience watch with anticipation and ask will they be caught?

Between the two characters there is sonnet played which conveys their love like a religion meaning its so strong as if nothing can break them apart. “And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss”. The use of religious imagery leads us to believe that they are a strong and tight couple with deep feelings to each other. The conversation is in direct flow showing us that are made for each other however they haven’t known each other for very long. This shows us that they have a lot in common and have made excellent instant connection.

When Romeo and Juliet both meet, they will both act overwhelmed with romantic expressions “My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss. Both lovers are attracted to each other at first sight

The language used in this sonnet is of a very high quality and the fact that the acting shared between them strengthens the idea of them being inseparable. They use the word ‘pilgrim’ several times; this could be because a pilgrim is someone who goes on a spiritual journey. This shows that Romeo and Juliet’s love is spiritual as well as physical. “For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch, and palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.” There is also a play on words here as they are talking of holding hands and kissing, but a palmer can also mean a pilgrim. This could be emphasized on stage by them holding their hands up to each other and touching. When this sonnet takes place for the couple they should stop and they are completely separate and ignorant to their surroundings. But then the moment they kiss they are interrupted by the ‘real world’, the world outside of their little life. At this stage quite, chilling music is played for example girlfriend.

I will draw my picture of the garden.

Tybalt sees Romeo

In lines 5 - 1 there is a dramatic change in mood compared to the peaceful mood we saw previously. Tybalt has spotted Romeo and goes strait to Lord Capulet to inform him of the insult, Tybalt talks about Romeo calling him a villain, a slave this creates tension and the audience become fearful for Romeo and his party with Tybalts aggressive language, Fetch me my rapier highlighting the tension even further. Tybalt uses derogatory terms like slave and villain this shows Tybalts anger and rage towards Romeo and the presence of Montague’s in the ball. Tybalt sees the worst and assumes that Romeo is there to start trouble.

To fleer and scorn at out solemnity. This shows that Tybalt is determined to inflict harm upon Romeo and his party. Lord Capulet attempts to calm Tybalt down using placid language Content thee, gentle coz. Lord Capulet speaks generously of Romeo and raises Romeo in the eyes of the audience. Capulet then uses more influential language that shows his determination to keep the peace and does not want to blemish the ball. Tension, the audience is riveted to see if Tybalt will obey Ill not endure him Capulet balances his role of a genial host whilst reprimanding Tybalt.

There is a lot of anger and tension between tybalt and Romeo when Tybalt finds out that Romeo is at the party. At this point there will be subtle background music but there will be angry music on top to create and visualise the suspense and tension between tybalt and Romeo. There should be red lighting on both of them therefore the audience can see the drama between the two characters and also showing Tybalt having a feeling of hatred. When Tybalt says, ‘I will withdraw but this intrusion shall/ Now seeming sweet convert to bitter gall, we feel nervous, because we know this is foreshadowing a future violent event. The actor playing Tybalt wants the audience to feel tense; he will use his facial expression and have a very rigid body to show his rage at Capulets favouring of Romeo. His exit should be very dramatic and he should glare at Romeo. Tybalt action should be very pugnacious when he first hears about Romeo’s presence “A villain that is hither come in spite”. He isn’t very happy to see Romeo at the party, as Romeo is a Montague; in result he should use sharp and precise language to show his aggression.

This bit of the play is very important because this is the scene where both themes of love and hate are contrasted by the meeting of Romeo and Juliet for the first time and where Tybalt sees Romeo and wants revenge.

In lines - 100 Romeo and Juliet meet again. They speak in sonnet form, which emphasises and articulates their devotion for each other. At this stage of the scene Romeo puts Juliet an a pedestal by using religious imagery. He describes his lips as two blushing pilgrims. This began a series of references to the pilgrims, and perhaps used because Romeo if Italian means Roamer, wonderer or palmer. All of this is connected to the religious image of the pilgrim.

Both Romeo and Juliet respond, to each others suggestions tenderly and compassionately. The pair forms an island of peace and tranquillity amidst the bustling atmosphere of the party. They are completely oblivious to others intent upon one thing only,

To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss

The tension is built towards the kiss by the repetition of palms and hands,

O then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do

The atmosphere is harmonious showing their mutual love for each other. The kisses are romantic,

This from my lips, by thine, my sin is purged

and the audience is delighted by their blossoming relationship as well as being filled with tension because if they are discovered they are in grave trouble.

Romeo and Juliet realizes that each other is an ‘enemy’ of the other

In lines 111 - 116 the nurse breaks the romantic bond between Romeo and Juliet, the nurse calls Juliet away by doing this anxiety is created on the relationship between Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo finds out Juliet is Capulet in lines 115.

Romeo is shattered when he realizes that Juliet is a Capulet, from the family that he has been warring with for generations, O dear account! My life is my foes debt Romeo is devastated by this and leaves the ball; the audience is left with anticipation as to what he will do next.

Again this part is played in the romantic garden. In the garden there will be the nurse, Romeo, Juliet and a few people drinking and talking. The main characters should be in the middle.

The entrance of the Nurse is very strategic, as she interrupts their kiss, and the actors playing Romeo and Juliet should show their embarrassment and worry at being caught. The moment that the Nurse reveals that Juliet is a Capulet is crucial � Romeo must show his shock and horror very visually � he has fallen in love with his enemy! Equally, Juliet coyly discovers Romeos identity, come hither, nurse` the moment when Juliet finds out that Romeo is a Montague is devastating, as is revealed when Juliet says, ‘My only love sprung from my only hate! The actress must physically show (through the wringing of hands, for example) how awful this is. The way she uses her voice here is also important. Immediately before that she said, ‘If he be married, my grave is like to be my wedding bed. This line must be said with great emphasis, because it is prophetic. The audience already knows from the prologue that Romeo and Juliet are headed for disaster, and this line shows how her intense love for Romeo will lead to her death.

The scene ends with the recognition by both Romeo and Juliet that they come from the feuding families. Watch Juliets words My only Love sprung from my only Hate. Already at this stage there is a hint that love may conquer the hatred of the feuding factions.


Overall I found this essay quite easy but I found most difficult is putting the characters on the stage because I have to take in account not to put the main charters behind.

I found the easiest is choosing the characters costume design and giving it a modern look.

I think after the points I have concluded above it will make it easier for people to interpret Juliet’s innocence and Romeo’s braveness and passion for Juliet.

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