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Romeo and Juliet was originally a play written by William Shakespeare, who was a talented and popular playwright in the sixteenth and early seventeenth century. As there was no cinematography in his time, his plays were performed in theatres. As I am directing Act II – the balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet, I have many advantages. In this day and age, we have the latest equipment and techniques for filmmaking. As a director I have to consider many technical factors such as camera angle, lights, effects, props and costumes. I am not going to muddle with the story line, but will make some changes, which will differentiate my scene from the original. To present a good performance, I will have to take some imperative factors into account. Such as the place the scene has in the overall structure of the play, historical background, the setting, development of character, themes and the use of language.
Let me begin by describing the place the scene has in the overall play. Originally before Act II in Act I, we are introduced to the feuding families of the Montague and the Capulet’s. We learn that Romeo a youth, who is in despair with his unsuccessful love for a girl Rosanline, is the Montague’s son. Eventually Romeo is persuaded by his friend Benvolio and Mercutio to go uninvited to a Capulet ball. There he meets Juliet who is the Capulet’s daughter and falls in love with her at first sight. The events in Act II describe what follows with this new love story. This scene infact is the turning point of the play. The plot begins to thicken from this scene on. I have decided that I will stick to the basic story line and begin my film with similar events.
The next factor I have to consider is the “historical background”. Originally the story is based in Verona, Italy. Verona is a city-state, which is governed by a prince, such as present day boroughs and counties administered. In Verona there are two very powerful and wealthy families the Capulet’s and the Montague’s. They have an ancient family feud between them of blood loss and killing. They are like cats and dogs always quarrelling with each other. My film will be based in Delhi, India. This is a huge district and is under the control of the commissioner of police. In Delhi there are two very powerful and rich industrialists who have a long aged feud between them. They would try to cause harm to each other at any cost.
The “setting” is the factor, which will differentiate my scene from the original. As I have set my play in India. I will also set it in the modern era unlike the original, which was set in the seventeenth century. I will use modern day spoken English and not the original Shakespeare English. Modern day clothes will be worn, modern day props and environment will be used. I will have to keep factors such as camera angle, lights and effects in mind throughout the shoot of the scene. The set will be a massive mansion, which will be the Capulet’s house. This will just be a part of the house where Juliet’s balcony projects out.
There will also be projections out of the wall where flowerpots will be kept and there will be creepers on the wall. This will eventually help Romeo to climb up to Juliet’s balcony. The filming of the scene takes place in the same manner as it took place in the original play. The shoot will take place at dawn, so that the dialogues correspond. The scene takes place like this; Romeo jumps over a wall and finds himself in a compound, which has a garden. He finds no one as it is early morning but sees the lights in Juliet’s room switched on. He tries to climb up to the balcony when suddenly Juliet appears.
He remains quiet and listens to what Juliet is saying to herself. As Juliet is leaning on the balcony Romeo breaks his silence. Then both them become engaged in a romantic conversation. Then suddenly the nurse interrupts them. Juliet then becomes worried and excited tries to complete the conversation hastily. Eventually the they exchange vows and Romeo cautiously sneaks out of the Capulet’s mansion.
The next factor is the “development of character”. As a director this is a factor I will have to stress upon in order to make my performance an attractive and successful one. In Act II – The Balcony Scene there are many changes in the character of Romeo and Juliet. Basing my scene on the original, I will use the original lines to signify the change in character.
Romeo at the beginning of the scene is immature and foolish. After seeing Juliet at the ball and falling in love at first sight, he tries to encroach into the Capulet’s house to meet Juliet. This was foolish of him as he was walking into a pit. Then when he is spying on Juliet, he expresses his feeling for Juliet to himself. He is idealistic about Juliet, for example ” It is the east and Juliet is the sun!” Then eventually he becomes romantic and poetic, for example “It is my lady, O it is my love!” and “The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars, As daylight doth a lamp” and “Her eyes in heaven, Would through the airy region stream so bright, That birds would sing and think it were not night.” He is very elaborative in his views about Juliet, such as “O speak again bright angel, for thou art”.
When Romeo meets Juliet he carries on the conversation delivering his dialogues in his poetic, romantic and idealistic way. At a point in the scene Romeo even wishes for physical desire. For example “O wilt thou leave me so unsatisdfied?”Eventually at the end of the scene he becomes mature and plain in his expressions. For example “By the hour of nine”, he says this when Juliet asks him what time they should get married. Overall Romeo’s character is unbalanced and not focused. He is immature in his approach and gradually matures by the end of the scene. Most of the time he expresses his love for Juliet in an idealistic, poetic and romantic way. He likes to flirt and tries to touch the sentiments of Juliet.
On the other hand Juliet is a person who is mature in her views. From the beginning till the end of the balcony scene she remains sober and focused about her views and expression. Her character remains being practical and down to earth. She shows passion towards Romeo at all times but with control emotions and feelings. In the beginning of the play she sardonically refers to Romeo’s and her self’s parents acting as wall between their love. For example “Deny thy father and refuse thy name. Or if thou wilt not be but sworn my love; And I’ll no longer be a Capulet”. She also goes on describing the significance of their names in their love affair, for example ” ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy: Thou art thyself, though not a Montague”.
When Romeo breaks his silence and when they meet, Juliet becomes puzzled and curious about his presence, but she is also pleased within as for the effort he made to come. She refers by saying “How cam’st thou hither, tell me, and wherefore; The orchard walls are high and hard to climb, And the place death, considering who thou art”. As the scene progresses Juliet’s character remains as same, being practical and focused about her views. She replies to Romeos elaborated comments with control emotion and lucidness. For example “O swear not by the moon, th’inconstant moon, That monthly changes in her circled orb, Lest that thy love prove likewise variable”.