Giving Advice on How “Actors Should Play Their Role in Act 3 Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet Essay
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You are going to write in role as Gregory Doran, the new artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. You are going to give a lecture to the actors you have chosen to plsy Romeo, Benvolio and Mercutio. What advice would you give them about how and why they should act in Act 3 Scene 1?
In Act 3 Scene 1 of Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare raises the excitement and the tension throughout the scene by using dramatic tension between the characters, provocative and threatening dialogue, strong language effects, and sharp vital violence.
The sudden, fatal violence in the first scene of Act 3, as well as the buildup to the fighting, serves as a reminder that, for all its emphasis on love, beauty, and romance, Romeo and Juliet still takes place in a masculine world in which notions of honor, pride, and status are prone to erupt in a fury of conflict. The viciousness and dangers of the play’s social environment are dramatic tools that Shakespeare employs to make the lovers’ romance seem even more precious and fragile—their relationship is the audience’s only respite from the brutal world pressing against their love.
The scene begins with Mercutio continuously brushing off Benvolio’s advice as a peacekeeper to keep calm and he instead accuses Benvolio of being a hypocrite. This implies that Mercutio is very obstinate and is quick to cast suspicions and false accusations on others without much thinking.
Mercutio accuses that Benvolio is just as violent and hot headed as him, “Come, come, thou art as hot a Jack in thy mood as any in Italy”, without any proof. This implies that Mercutio is the type of character to jump in head first and rarely listens to others’ advice. Later on in the scene, Benvolio exclaims ‘By my head here come the Capulets’ upon Tybalt’s arrival, and to this Mercutio replies “By my heel I care not”. The phrase ‘I care not’ notions that Mercutio does not see any problem in Tybalt’s arrival, which in turn means that he is intending on provoking a fight which accentuates that Clearly Mercutio is in an aggressive mood. Tybalt addresses Mercutio and Benvolio. “ ‘Gentlemen, good den, a word with one of you’ ” Up to this point, Tybalt is courteous – his quarrel is with Romeo, not with Benvolio or Mercutio. However Mercutio is extremely provocatice and he responds to Tybalt, asking a word with one of them with, “Make it a word and a blow.”
The audience feels there is a fight in prospect. Which achieves Shakespeare’s purpose and intended effect. Mercutio is clearly being very confrontational in this scene, therefore, the actor should deliver his lines imposingly, loud and clear in a tone of anger. When Tybalt appears, he should spit his words and when provoking Tybalt, the actor should increase their volume and have a very irritated and aggressive facial expression by grinding his teeth. However, when imitating Tybalt and making a mockery out of him, his actions should be over the top. His movements at the beginning of the scene should reflect his provocative behaviour and therefore he should walk with big strides and a fast pace. As he is ignoring Benvolio’s advice, eye contact should be avoided up until the point that Mercutio accuses him. When this happens, the actor playing Mercution should suddenly stop to build up tension then turn around and point at Benvolio. Mercutio’s costume should be a red sleeveless shirt as red reflects aggression , with tattered and ripped pants if possible to emphasis his wild nature. Another option for the top is a leather jacket and piercings and metal studs as accessories to clearly showcase his obstinate and hot-headed personality.
Romeo, by contrast, is as passionate about love as Tybalt and Mercutio are about hostility. Romeo appears, cheerful and contented with having wed Juliet only hours before, and unaware that he’s even been challenged to a duel. Until Mercutio dies, Romeo remains emotionally distinct from the other characters in the scene. Romeo walks atop his euphoric cloud buoyed by blissful thoughts of marriage to Juliet, peace, unity, and harmony. In response to Tybalt’s attempts to initiate a fight, Romeo tells Tybalt that he loves “thee better than thou canst devise.” Ironically, Romeo’s refusal to duel with Tybalt brings about the very acceleration of violence he sought to prevent. When Romeo enters the scene, Tybalt and Mercutio are in the middle of a scuffle, he immediately tries to not be drawn into the fiery atmosphere and tries to keep calm. “Doth much excuses the appertaining rage to such a greeting.” The word ‘excuse; was deliberately used by Shakespeare to convince the audience that Romeo is not interested in violence but rather peace and wellbeing of all are his best interests.
While talking, “Romeo” should be very soft-spoken and not provocative in anyway. Eye contact should be avoided and eyes should be averted to the feet to show timidness and reluctance to fight. When Mercutio and Tybalt are about to fight, he even tries to persuade Mercutio to “put thy rapier up”. The fact that he asks his best friend to stop fighting instead of the opposing side shows that he is completely passive in violence and displays his desperation for peace. During the conflict, the actor playing Romeo should never retaliate but instead tolerate all hits or simply avoid them to depict his passive and peaceful nature. However, after Mercutio is injured and dies, his attitude should change completely and resemble that of Mercutio’s. “Romeo’s” behaviour should then be similar to Mercutio’s. While challenging Tybalt and fighting with him, the actor playing Romeo should show no hint compassion, a stern face and and clenched fists with a to reflect his change demeanor as stated in the book, “And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now”.
After Tybalt’s death by his hands, Romeo should then retreat into confusion, reflecting on what he has done. “Oh I am fortune’s fool!” The word ‘fool’ suggests that Romeo admits that he was overwhelmed by anger and blind fury at that point in time and regrets being unable to control himself. Romeo’s costume should be very sophisticated after returning from his wedding with Juliet and therefore he should be well-groomed. During his battle with Tybalt, his clothes should then be torned and messy to symbolise his transition from a peaceful person into a murderer full of vengeance. Benvolio still maintains his status as a peacekeeper throughout the entire play, however, unlike romeo he totally does not involves himself in any conflict and always prefers to just watch form the side, and this can be interpreted in theatrical set-up to advice the actor playing Benvolio to never be the centre of attention on stage and to position himself either downstage, or centre stage right, but never centre stage.
At the beginning of the scene he advices Mercutio to stop wandering around as to avoid a conflict, “The day is hot and the Capels are abroad, And if we meet, we shall not ‘scape a brawl.” The phrase “not ‘scape” conveys the impression that Benvolio does not like to attract much attention and be drawn into violent combat. This characteristic can be interpreted as cowardice, but also wisdom. Benvolio knows that if another brawl occurs between the two families, someone will be killed and therefore tries to plan in advance, trying to omit all possibilities of a fight happening. Benvolio is also not offended when Mercutio makes advances on him and accuses him of being a hypocrite which portrays him as a matured character. Benvolio replies with “And what to?” to Mercutio’s statement and this presupposes that he pays no heed to Mercutio because he thinks of him as a child but is only worried that he will start a fight which explains his concern on Mercutio’s hot-headed behaviour.
While trying to convince Mercutio to stop with his combative and warlike behaviour, the Benvolio’s actor should be very insistent that Mercutio calm down but indifferent towards his insults to reflect his maturity. When Tybalt enters the stage, Benvolio plays a smaller part and should move away from the center-stage in the moments that lead up to the fight to indicate his cowardice and reluctance to participate in combat. Once he starts explaining to the Prince what had happened, Benvolio should still maintain his composure and calmly explain the situation because in Shakespeare’s original version of Romeo and Juliet, his explanation is long, but still contains the key details of the event, “Tybalt, here slain, whose Romeo’s hand did slay……”
Benvolio should wear a green shirt, as green resembles peace and is the colour of nature, hence life which is an accurate symbol of Benvolio’s tendency to avoid brawls and conflicts. I have picked out and analysed single words from Act 3 Scene 1, I have commented on how Shakespeare get’s his message across and have started to develop an appreciation for the techniques that he uses. I have also given out advice on how the actors should deliver their lines, their facial expressions as well as physical gestures and their costumes.