William Shakespeare is one of the most famous writers in the history of the English language. He was born in the town of Stratford-Upon-Avon. He wrote some of the most well known plays of which one of these is Romeo and Juliet.
The story is set in Verona, Italy, and the main characters are, Romeo, Juliet, Tybalt and Mercutio.
The story is about Rome and Juliet, two star-crossed lovers from two feuding families, the Montague family and the Capulet family who have been fighting on the streets of Verona for many years.
At the start of the story Romeo has a crush on Rosaline who does not return love to Romeo. The Capulet family hold a party of which Rome attends un-invited. It is this party where Romeo and Juliet meet.
After the party Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, sees Romeo and challenges him to a duel, Rome and his friends accept. Tybalt kills Mercutio, Romeo’s best friend, and Romeo kills Tybalt.
The prince of Verona banishes Romeo. Juliet plans to spend the night with Rome before he is sent away. Romeo and Juliet are married in Friar Laurence’s church but Juliet’s father has already arranged her marriage to a local nobleman Paris.
Juliet and the local Friar make a cunning plan to prevent Juliet from marrying Paris. Juliet takes a drug that makes her seem to be dead for forty-eight hours. Juliet’s nurse finds Juliet and thinking she is dead she alerts the Capulet house. Juliet’s funeral is staged.
Rome finds out about Juliet’s death and sets out to kill himself by her side in the Capulet tomb, as he has no idea about the plans she has made. Romeo goes to the Capulet tomb where he meets Paris, Rome kills Paris. Rome takes a poison and dies in the tomb. Juliet awakes finding Romeo is dead and kills herself. The alarm is raised. The two families end their long feud and statues are raised in Romeo and Juliet’s memory.
I was set the task of directing Act 3 Scene 5 of Rome and Juliet and I have approached this by picking out the most important lines and telling how I would light, stage, and direct them.
The scene is set in the bedroom of Juliet on the bottom floor of the Capulet house. The house would be set on the highest point in Verona overlooking the city. The moonlight just blending in with the sunlight at dawn the lights of the bustling Verona City will all be extinguishing to start a new day. The view from Juliet’s balcony will be of billboards advertising Capulet Vodka, which is the company ran by the family.
The scene is mostly set inside Juliet’s bedroom, which will be painted pure white. The bed sheets will be made from the finest red velvet as will the curtains hang above the entrance to Juliet’s balcony. The doors will be sheets of glass with gold handles shaped in a J. The balcony will be made from the finest stone hand carved by the finest stonemasons in Verona. Beneath the balcony will be a huge statue of Juliet’s father Capulet.
In the opening five lines the break of dawn will now be apparent and Romeo will notice it and dive out of bed. The first five lines said by Juliet are trying to persuade Romeo to stay longer with her. She says craftily, “It was the nightingale and not the lark that pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear.” When she says this I would like the actress playing Juliet to show her as miserable and grief-stricken. She should be gazing inconsolably out over the balcony maybe in a futile attempt to conceal the ever-growing day from Romeo’s eyes. She greatly wills him to stay saying, “Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.” Influentially.
In lines six to eleven Romeo speaks more pragmatically. “It was the lark, the herald of morn.” I would want the actor to play these lines looking calm and collected. Romeo would walk over to the window and turn Juliet around to force her to look at the dawn break. He has understood his fate and is prepared to accept what is going to happen.
In lines 26-35 Juliet is also beginning to accept what is going to happen, She encourages Romeo to leave her. I would want the actor to show that Juliet is worried. “It is, It is. Hie hence, begone, away.” She would say these lines in a resolved, firm voice and would almost be pushing Romeo towards the balcony.
Line 36 is Romeo’s response to Juliet’s sudden realization and it seems that Romeo and Juliet have changed roles since to start of the scene Romeo now being the persuasive manipulative person, “more light and light: more dark and dark our woes,” and Juliet now playing the more levelheaded of the two.
Line 41 is a dramatic phrase, “Then, window, let day in and let life out,” at this Juliet will open the doors to the balcony and the lights will brighten. Romeo then steps over the balcony and begins to climb down. The two then kiss and Just the Two of Us by Bill Withers will play in the background.
The next 5 lines are indisputably shattering lines. The actor should show Juliet as clearly distressed weeping at the sight of Romeo’s decent. She wishes Romeo to write to her every hour of every day.
Line fifty-four is one of the most dramatic lines in the scene, when Juliet prophesises the death of Romeo. “Methinks I see thee, now thou art so low, as one dead in the bottom of a tomb.” At this moment Juliet’s voice should change from a sad to a shocked voice, also in the background a picture of a dead Romeo in a tomb flashed on a screen at the back of the stage.
Lines 65-125 are just general talking between mother and daughter. Lady Capulet asks Juliet why she is crying and Juliet cunningly hides her feelings. The actress could show this by a change in voice e.g. in line 94 when she says,” Indeed I never shall be satisfied With Romeo, till I behold him-dead-Is my poor heart so for a kinsman vexed.” This line has a double meaning it could be interpreted that Juliet wills for Romeo’s death but what she really means is that she longs to hold Romeo and she has a dead heart.
Line 112 is when Lady Capulet reveals Juliet’s fathers plans for Juliet to marry Paris. The actress playing Juliet should show her to be shocked and she should turn away from her mother to show defiance. Juliet refuses this marriage arrangement at this point Juliet should get up ad cross the room all the time showing defiance and non-cooperation to her mother never making eye contact with her.
The Next speech by Capulet contains superb imagery. He says, “What, still in tears? Evermore showering? In one little body thou counterfeits a bark, a sea, a wind for still thy eyes, which I may call the sea, do ebb and flow with tears.” Capulet is being very sarcastic here. This line gives us the opportunity to use sound and images to create and image in the audiences’ head. I would use sounds of waves and the sea accompanied by a picture of a tear filling the ocean on a screen in the background.
In lines 141/145 Capulet is puzzled and confused. He can’t seem to figure out why Juliet has refused the marriage proposal. To get across this puzzled state of mind Capulet is in, I would tell the actor to change from a understanding to a angry voice mid sentence.
Capulet’s next stanza is an explosion of emotion, sarcasm and anger mixed in to one paragraph. Yet again this explosion is because he can’t understand why his daughter rejected his offer. In this speech he shows pure evil telling his daughter that she will marry or be dragged to the church on a sledge. He also takes every opportunity to insult his daughter. “Green-sickness carrion! Baggage, tallow face.” Here you could project images of fire and evil looks on Capulet’s face to show the evil emerging in Capulet.
Lines 159/160 show Juliet trying to calm her father down speaking calmly and being very reasonable considering her fathers outburst.
In lines 160/168 we see another outburst from Capulet just as bitter and evil, his love for his daughter is totally blanked out by his anger and lack of thoughtfulness. He threatens to hit his daughter and also threatens to throw her out on the street if she does not marry Paris. Snobbery is beginning to emerge in Capulet. I would want the actor to show that Capulet on the edge and about to lash out.
Lines 197-202 show Juliet pleading to her mother. “I am too young, I pray you pardon me!” I would want the actress to beg on her knees and have Lady Capulet looking away from her daughter in disgust.
The nurse in lines 214-226 does not agree with Juliet and she thinks that Juliet may never see Romeo again so she should ‘cut her losses’ and marry Paris. The Nurse should be speaking to Juliet in a consoling voice trying to calm Juliet down but we see in Juliet’s last speech that this just infuriates Juliet more and Juliet has an outburst much like her fathers. “Ancient Damnation! O most wicked fiend.” Insulting her nurse. I would want the actor to slap the nurse across the face and storm out off the stage at the end leaving the nurse shocked at the end of the scene.
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