Part1: Directorial Vision Statement
The piece that I selected for this formal treatment is Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. I select this for a couple of reasons that are listed as the following. First of all, Romeo and Juliet is so famous and popular all around the world, and the two main characters—Romeo and Juliet are so well-known that even people who have no idea about theatre or the original piece of work know they are tragic lovers whose families resented each other.
However, on the other hand, compare to the number of people who know the two characters, there are much less people who know the whole storyline and the background of this creation, not even mentioning its artistic value and social impacts. Since such is the case, there are a lot of misunderstandings and even distortions about multiple aspects of Romeo and Juliet (for example, many people think that Romeo and Juliet are among the Four Great Tragedies of Shakespeare, which is not true).
Even me, who has been taking this course in the past few months, only knew the basic storyline and a little bit about the playwright Shakespeare before doing further research for this project (for example, I thought Shakespeare generated the whole story without any basis from prior work, but this is not true). I choose this piece not only because of its popularity, but also, to more extent, because of the rich historical background, the common misunderstandings and distortions, and the unpopularity of its artistic value among the general public behind such popularity of the two characters.
What I want is, by going through this process, I can have better understanding about all aspects of this piece of work than before, and I may able to make more people know more about the piece as well as eliminate some general misunderstandings and distortions. Secondly, the storyline, conflicts, and the themes of Romeo and Juliet are really fascinating to me, and the spirits and pursuits of Romeo and Juliet, in my opinion, should always be valued among human beings. Romeo and Juliet fell in love with each other since they first met. They could have been the happiest couple in the world. However, their families were sworn enemies. Since such is the case, their love became a taboo and was not permitted by both of their families. Tragedies happened one by one: Juliet’s cousin killed Romeo’s close friend Mercutio; Romeo slayed Tybalt and got exiled from Verona; Juliet was forced to marry to Count Paris; Juliet took a drug to fake a death, but Romeo was convinced of her death, heartbroken, and killed himself; when Juliet I woke up and saw Romeo’s death, she committed a suicide to be with Romeo.
Though their families finally reconciled because of their children’s death, their death was not reversible. I respect from deep of my heart with Romeo and Juliet’s free spirit and brave and persistent pursuit of love. For love, they can abandon their dignified identity; for love, they can regard the enemies of their families as kin members. They are willing to pay all kinds of cost to pursue true love and their true identities. They experience internal struggles and conflicts, but they both choose to follow their hearts eventually. In my opinion, such free spirits and scarification for love should be valued and emphasized particularly in modern society. In the process of generating this project, I want to use it as a chance to study human beings’ striving for love and freedom and the values of human nature. It is certain I will treat this project mainly as a formal treatment of Romeo and Juliet, but I also see it as an opportunity for me, and for more people to get to know the how priceless true love and human nature can be. Romeo and Juliet is not only a celebration of true love; it is also a compliment and celebration for human rights and the bright side of human nature. Last but not least, I think it will be meaningful for me to get an opportunity to recreate and reproduce such a classic work in the history of theatre.
Romeo and Juliet, as such a well-known story, has been reproduced countless times, by many famous directors and in many forms (not only theatre, but also movies). Through all these recreations and reproductions, I think the value of Romeo and Juliet today has greatly surpassed its original values since generations of professionals (and enthusiasts) have devoted their valuable creativities and insights into the classic piece. As a student of Thea 101, it is very important to study Romeo and Juliet more deeply, given its great impact (and also the great impact of its playwright) in the history of theatre. Though what I know about theatre and the piece of Romeo and Juliet are much less than professionals, I think it will be a good chance for me to know more about this classic piece and learn from past successful reproductions in the process of doing this project.
In my opinion, in order to know more about Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, and the art of theatre in general, the best way is to apply what I learn in class and in this process, combine with my own creativities into the designs of this classic piece. To study the genesis of Romeo and Juliet and Shakespeare, I did some research online. William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the 16th century (Greenblatt, 2005). According to Wikipedia, “Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written early in the career of William Shakespeare, which is about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families” (“Romeo and Juliet”, 2013, para 1). It was one of the most popular and most frequently performed works of Shakespeare. Today, the title characters are regarded as archetypal young lovers. Romeo and Juliet belongs to a tradition of tragic romances stretching back to antiquity. One of these is Pyramus and Thisbe, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which contains “parallels to Shakespeare’s story: the lovers’ parents despise each other, and Pyramus falsely believes his lover Thisbe is dead”. “The Ephesiaca of Xenophon of Ephesus, written in the 3rd century”, are also somewhat similar to the play, including the separation of the lovers, and a deathlike sleep (“Romeo and Juliet”, 2013, “sources”, para 1) According to research (Stacy, 1977), its plot is based on an Italian tale, translated into verse as The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke in 1562.
The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet is a narrative poem, and was the key source for William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Robert Edgar Law has demonstrated that Shakespeare not only followed Brooke’s almost explicitly in the order of events, but also paraphrased or quoted directly from Brooke’s poem forty-four times in constructing his play. It is not clear that when Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet. According to Rolfe (1907), the earliest edition of Romeo and Juliet, so far as we know, was a quarto printed in 1597. A second quarto appeared in 1599, declared to be “newly corrected, augmented, and amended.” Another quarto appeared in 1609 and the other undated but believed to be before the folio in 1623. It is not clear which one should be earlier.
The undated quarto is the first that has the name of the author (“Written by W. Shake-speare”), but this does not occur in some copies of the edition. A fifth quarto was published in 1637. The first quarto is much shorter than the second. According to Rolfe, “the former having only 2232 lines, including the prologue, while the latter has 3007 lines” (para 3). Some editors believe that the first quarto gives the author’s first draft of the play, and the second the form it took after he had revised and enlarged it. However, the majority of the best critics agree that the first quarto was a “pirated edition, and represents in an abbreviated and imperfect form the play subsequently printed in full in the second” (para 3). According to the article “Romeo and Juliet: Play History” by Amanda Mabillard (2011), “the play has remained extremely popular throughout the centuries, but producers in the seventeenth century found it necessary to take great literary license with Shakespeare’s original work” (para 1). In some productions, the endings Romeo and Juliet are corrected to be a happy reunion. Moreover, according to Mabillard (2011), in 1679, Thomas Otway created a version of the play called The History and Fall of Caius Marius, set in Augustan Rome.
Otway transformed the play to revolve around two opposing senators, Metellus and Marius Senior, who are fighting for political control. Otway’s version was so popular that for seventy years it virtually replaced all production of Shakespeare’s own Romeo and Juliet. In the 1740s Shakespeare’s version was returning to its original popularity, due to revivals by several producers, including David Garrick and Theophilus Cibber. However, even they mixed other materials in with Shakespeare’s original text. Cibber included passages from The Two Gentlemen of Verona in his production, and Garrick opened the play with Romeo madly in love with Juliet, omitting Rosaline entirely. In the nineteenth century, Romeo and Juliet was performed with “relatively little dramatic alteration”, and it became one of Shakespeare’s most-produced plays and “a mainstay of the English stage” (para 5). In more recent years, the presentation of Romeo and Juliet has begun to take more forms including movies and operas. It has profound influence on a variety of realms, including theatre, literature, music, the big screen, and even art (paintings) (“Romeo and Juliet”, 2013, “Legacy”). In my opinion, Romeo and Juliet is far more than the mere presentations of tragic love. I don’t want to make my production too simplistic or classic. For the audience of hundreds years ago, they might only realize the tragedies, the young love, and the old hate, which were the mere presentations on stage. Under modern social backgrounds, I don’t want my potential audience who are living in an era of emphasizing human rights and freedom, after attending my work, to only remember the lovers’ tragic death and the families’ remorse.
I want them to find something new in this production. On the other hand, I don’t want to make this production too modern or complicated. Stretching the themes too far or making the production unrelated to the original piece of work (like recreating the whole script as Otway did in 1679) is not my vision either. As far as I concerned, what I want to present and emphasize in my designs are the values of pure love, freedom, and self-realization for human beings (i.e. Be true to yourself). There may be people who argue that my interpretations are the old themes of this classic piece. However, I want to argue that in old eras, the emphasis is the tragic nature of their love and the limitations of the social context. What I want to present in my production nowadays is the preciousness of true love, and how valuable it is for human beings to pursue freedom and the true self. In old eras, people are not able to pursue these things because of the limitations of large social contexts.
Nowadays, people usually get lost in fame, money and other desires without noticing the values of human nature and pure love/freedom in capitalistic societies. Since such is the case, I want to use this production as a reminder of the values of self-realization, love and freedom for modern people in such complicated social contexts. I want my potential audience to realize the passion and nature that may be buried deep inside in their hearts. As a justification of my general vision of this classic piece, Kottman (2012), an associate professor of comparative literature, argues that the representation of amorous love in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet gets its dramatic traction from the fact that “love” names a struggle for freedom and self-consciousness, through which Romeo and Juliet each seeks to claim their life as their own.
This struggle for self-realization requires each to find herself or himself in the other and cannot be accommodated by or reconciled to any inheritable form of human belonging, such as the family, the state, or civil society. “Love” in Romeo and Juliet is a struggle for freedom and self-realization, to which communal forms of life such as the family or the city are blind and where the deepest communal commitments are devalued. He reads Shakespeare as staging a decidedly un-Hegelian depiction of this struggle, one which ends not with a reconciliation of the “I” and the “we” but with an abiding split between what is most “mine” and the community’s deepest values. Shakespeare’s representation of the tragic lovers, Kottman argues, shows a deep, abiding incommensurability between the struggle for individual freedom and any collective, inheritable sociality.
In order to create the piece from my point of view, the guide of this process is demonstrated as the following. First of all, since my potential audience is the general public but not Shakespeare enthusiasts or experts, some specific languages or staging elements may be changed to be more adaptive to the needs of modern audience while without disturbing the meaning, goals and beauty of the original work. Particularly, since I want most of the potential audience to understand this production but at the same time, there is considerable using of ancient English that may impede their appreciation, I will change some particular words in the dialogues to solve this problem. However, I won’t change any language of the chorus or poems in the scripts, since that is the most classic part of this piece, and that is the rhyme and the intuitive beauty of the language is beautiful, rather than the meaning behind those words. Moreover, in order to help the audience to understand the language used in this performance, everyone can get a booklet that has an index of old/modern English before attending the performance to assist their comprehensions.
Secondly, the conflict in this play is between the young love and the old hate, and what I want to stress is the beauty of Romeo and Juliet’s pursuit of love and freedom (not the tragedy of their fate). To emphasize how I see this piece, I will mostly use lighting effects to help me. However, unlike many other plays in which night (dark) is bad while day (light) is good, the darkness and light in Romeo and Juliet don’t have such symbolic meanings (and under many conditions, they are totally opposite). Since such is the case, I will adjust the light source to make the plots of their pursuit of freedom and love comfortable, epic-like and beautiful, and make the plots full of conflicts awkward and uncomfortable. For example, when it comes to the plot that Romeo got exiled, the sun should be made as excessively and uncomfortably bright to stress the pain of Romeo at this moment.
When it comes to the plot that Juliet committed a suicide to be with Romeo, the lighting effects should be to soft and beautiful make this moment epic-like rather than tragic and painful. In this way, although they don’t have a happy ending, their pursuit of love and freedom will become epic-like, beautiful, and memorable. The audience may be primed with the beauty of love, freedom, and self-realization, and may learn that they deserve to have such pure love and true selves that are not affected by the large social context. If we instead to make their death tragic, what the audience may only able to remember is the tragedy but not their persistent fighting for true love. Again, I want to make their love and freedom, but not the tragedy of their love and freedom memorable. Last but not least, since I want my audience to feel what they might have lost in modern societies and to find more empathy and resonance, the production must be realistic rather than fictional. Specifically, the light source should be mostly natural and spontaneous, for example, sunlight and moonlight, instead of artificial. The voice of the characters should not be amplified too much. I will mostly use live orchestra and chorus for the music in this production, and there should as little the use of electric music as possible. The scenic design, for example, the most famous balcony scene, should create a three-dimensional balcony where Juliet can stands on, instead of a symbolic board with drawings of windows and a square hole. The costumes should be adaptive to what people of their social classes wore at that time, and all the characters should not wear too much make-up so that they can look naturally.
The Root Conflict of Romeo and Juliet
According to the analysis of the whole script, the root conflict of Romeo and Juliet is the conflict between their families’ rivalry and the two youngsters’ love (or in other words, the conflict between their identities identified by the society and the identities identified by themselves). Such conflict has resulted in the inner conflict of Romeo and Juliet and their tragedies both directly and indirectly. The root conflict is analyzed in details in the following paragraphs. The rivalry between the Capulet’s and the Montague’s is initially introduced in the prologue of Act I. It is further presented by direct confrontations (a fight) between Benvolio (Romeo’s cousin) and Tybalt (Juliet’s cousin), the fray caused by both houses, and the mutual cursing of Capulet and Montague. The root conflict first emerges when Romeo sees Juliet at the Capulet’s. He falls in love with her at the first sight, and after knowing Juliet is a Capulet, he says “my life is my foe’s debt” (Shakespeare, n.d.), which indicates great conflict between his love and his/his lover’s social identities.
Later, when Juliet and Romeo meet at the Capulet’s orchard, Juliet expresses the desire that if Romeo swears to be her love, she will no longer be a Capulet. As for Romeo, he directly expresses the hate of his name because it is the enemy of Juliet. Such conflict is further presented in the way of greater inner conflict for Juliet and Romeo due to Mercutio’s and Tybalt’s death. The rivalry between the families leads Tybalt to seek for a fight with Romeo. Romeo loves Juliet deeply and regards Juliet’s cousin as his own kin, thus refusing this fight. Mercutio chooses to fight with Tybalt and dies, and Romeo has no choice but revenge for him by killing Tybalt. These series of actions deepen the rivalry between the two houses. These incidents also raise greater inner conflict within Romeo and Juliet. Romeo feels so struggling about killing Juliet’s cousin and he worries that Juliet will be heartbroken about her cousin’s death. Juliet also feels extremely conflicting since she is sad about his cousin’s death and the man she loves more than her life is the one who kills her cousin. Both young people are experiencing great inner conflicts resulted from the rivalry of their family (or their social identities) and their love (or their true identities).
Besides the characters’ inner conflicts, the root conflict also takes its form as the conflict between Juliet and her parents in Act III. Juliet’s parents misinterpret her grief and force her to marry to Count Paris. A significant conflict happens between Juliet and her parents. Juliet chooses to speak her heart out but is refused by her parents. Juliet threatens with death and her parents threaten her with disowning her. Last but not least, the root conflict, though somewhat indirectly, results in the death of Romeo and Juliet. Due to the conflict with her family, Juliet has no way to be with Romeo but faking to be dead to seek for chance. Romeo, unfortunately, gets the wrong news and poisons himself to “be with Juliet”. After waking up and seeing Romeo’s death, Juliet commits a suicide to be with Romeo. From all the specific analysis listed above, the root conflict is the rivalry between the two houses and the sincere love of Romeo and Juliet.
Part 3：Design Elements
The story of Romeo and Juliet happens in 16th century’s Verona, Italy. An exception is Act V, scene 1, which takes place in the city of Mantua, where Romeo is banished after killing Tybalt. There are three main places for the story to take place. The first one is the streets of Verona (public areas); the second one is Juliet’s house, and the third one is Friar Laurence’s church. Particularly, for Juliet’s home, there should be three different settings. The first one is the place for the ball. The second one is the orchard and the balcony scene. The third one is the churchyard of Capulet’s tomb, which is for Act V, scene 3—the lover’s death (Murphy, n.d.). Another factor to consider about is the season. The story takes place in July of summer. Since such is the case, the orchard should be surrounded with flowers and appears to be very lively. However, it is not possible to build the whole street.
Since such is the case, the place where the main characters stand should have three-dimensional settings of classic Verona architecture, and for “further” buildings, they can be presented by symbolic paintings. Moreover, considering about the convenience problems (like the huge pillars can’t be moved away), some settings are going to be used with small adjusts between the intermissions of Acts. To explain the drawing that I made for the set, the orchard is on the left side of the stage. There are other two three-dimensional buildings on the right side of the stage. The flat scenery is creates the streets of Verona, the beautiful night scene when Romeo and Juliet meet, and the scenes in the church (like some paintings in the church). The fighting mainly takes place on the front side of the stage (which is a square but there is no place to draw on the paper). Moreover, there are stairs to a platform, which can be used for the Prince to stand when the fighting takes place, for Friar Laurence to stand when he is marrying Juliet and Romeo (while they are on the square), and for the host of the ball Mr. Capulet to stand at the ball. As for the plots that include the tomb scene, some graves will be put on the square, and the flat scenery will be adjusted to be compatible with the plots. Moreover, since I’m not able to draw such complicated architecture, it is just a draft but not how the scenic elements are made to be at production. However basic features, like the shape of the doors and windows are drew according to the results of the research from the article Renaissance Verona (n.d.) on the website of Veronissima.
The story happens in 16th century Italy, a time of Renaissance. Based on the research of the article “Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries: English and Italian dresses ” by Melicent Stone (2011) published on Shakespeare-online and the paintings from “The Realm of Venus” which is a website for fashion and style in Renaissance Italy, the general characteristics of the dress of this time were extreme richness and elaboration of trimming and decoration; patterns were much used, and rich and varied coloring, with furs, jewels and embroideries. As for make-up, since what I want is a realistic and natural feeling, exaggerated or dramatic make-ups are not needed. However, some accessories and hairstyles should be matched with those in 16th century Verona. For men, the hair was worn rather long, parted in the middle or with a fringe and moustaches not being worn except with short beards.
For women, the hair can be worn loose, by maidens, with a small wreath or metal circlet, or bound with ribbons at intervals into one long tail, or in one plait, intertwined with pearls or gold braid (Stone, 2011). The following is brief explanations for the designs I made based on the research stated above. The color I choose for Juliet’s costume is a mixture of light blue and light purple. I think it is compatible with her sweet, elegant and precautious personality. It is also suitable for her pure soul. Her hair is concealed but with cute accessories. The color I choose for Romeo is more energetic and passionate, which is very compatible with his personality in my opinion. As for another two characters, Mercutio and Tybalt, the basic designs won’t be changed too much (that’s why I didn’t draw them separately) but the colors are red and orange separately since they are somewhat compulsive. The costume I design for Lady Capulet and Mr. Capulet have dark colors to show their relatively stubborn personality and also dignity. The costumes for Nurse and Friar Laurence are simply based on their Occupations.
As I illustrated in the directorial vision page, the light sources should be mostly spontaneous sources: sunlight, moonlight, and candles. Moreover, what I want to stress is the beauty of their love and pursuit for true selves and freedom. I also mentioned that the “day” in this play does not necessarily make people comfortable; nonetheless, many beautiful and memorable scenes happen during night. Since such is the case, the general idea is to make beautiful plots even more beautiful and conflicting plots even more conflicting. Since many conflicting scenes happen during the day of July, the sunlight can be excessively bright to create an uncomfortable and violent atmosphere. For the beautiful plots (or tragic-like plots) of Rome Juliet, since they mostly happen during the night, the moonlight should be made as soft and peaceful to create sacred and pure feelings. The sunlight should be bright, yellow-and-orange color. The moonlight should be white, blue, and even a little violet colors. Moreover, though mostly natural lighting should be used, we also need extremely bright spotlight at times to emphasize particularly extreme emotions or actions of the main characters. A lighting plot is attached in pdf version.
To explain this, the eupsoidal reflector spotlight is used mostly above the stage but also on the sides of the stage. Since it produces defined, sharp light, I think it can be most useful if put on the top of the stage to emphasize some extreme emotions of the characters or the climax of the production. As for fresenel light, it creates less focused beam. I think it will be most used for when they are put the up-left and up right of the stage, as well as on different sides of the stage. I think it will be most helpful in creating extremely bright sunlight since it creates beams. As for Parabolic aluminized reflectors, and banks of flood-lights, they are put almost everywhere, since they create general lighting and color wash. They create natural and spontaneous moonlight and sunlight, and contrast the light with the focused light sometimes (for example, when the Prince comes, the citizens involved in the fray can’t be unseen but the focus should be on the Prince and some main characters). Moreover, I also used some follow-ups. It will be useful when the main character is moving very quickly (and with significant emotions of course). For example, when the characters are fighting, they need more flexible focus (Cohen, 2010).
As a general idea, live orchestra and chorus should be used since they can produce more profound effects than electric recordings. Moreover, this production is not a musical or opera, so that it can’t be filled with music.
Music should only appear in plots with great tension (like the fight between Romeo and Tybalt) or greatly memorable (like the balcony scene). Moreover, thought it is not a musical, I still have an idea that for the poems, it can be sung out rather than spoken out. As far as I concerned, it can make the poems sounds even more beautiful and the feelings and emotions of the characters can be expressed in a more impressive way. As for specific examples, I did research online and find some great music for some important plots and they are listed as the following. The opening of the production is accompanied with “I Capuleti e i Montecchi – Sinfonia” by Vincenzo Bellini (1830/2009, Disc 1, Track 1). This music creates a classical and historical atmosphere, which is compatible with the set of time of this production. The fighting between the Capulet’s and the Montague’s and the appearance of the prince are accompanied by “Roméo et Juliette, Symphonie dramatique, Op. 17, 1ère Partie: Introduction: Combats – Tumulte – Intervention du Prince” by Hector Berlioz (1839/2008, Disc 1, Track 1).
This music creates an intense atmosphere, which is very compatible with this plot. The ball at Capulet’s is accompanied by “Roméo et Juliette, Symphonie dramatique, Op. 17, 3ème Partie: Nuit sereine – Le jardin de Capulet s’ilencieux et desert Les jeunes Capulets sortent de la fête, passente en chantant des reminiscences” by Hector Berlioz (1839/2008, Disc 1, Track 6). This music helps create a magnificent and high-class atmosphere. The music that I choose for Romeo and Juliet is “Roméo et Juliette, Symphonie dramatique, Op. 17, 3ème Partie: Scène d’amour (Adagio)” by Hector Berlioz (1839/2008, Disc 1, track 8). It is soft and beautiful, which helps stress my themes of this production. It appears first at the balcony scene, and also every time since then that they are spending time together. Since it is like a theme song that appears multiple times, the audience will be more likely to remember it and may be more impressed by their pursuit of love and freedom.
Once the music begins, love comes. The music for the two fightings (between Romeo and Tybalt, and between Tybalt and Mercutio) is “Romeo and Juliet/Romeo und Julia/Roméo et Juliette (Scenes from the Ballet)/The Duel/Das Duell/La Duel (2004 Remastered)” by Sergey Prokofiev (1935/2004, track 21). This music is intense and active. The music for the plot that Romeo and Juliet commit a suicide is “Roméo et Juliette, Symphonie dramatique, Op. 17, 4ème Partie: Dernières angoisses et mort des deux amants (Berlioz, 1839/2008, disc 2, track 6)” and their theme song. The former one sounds dark and intense, which helps create the climax of this production, but the latter one—the theme song of Romeo and Juliet somewhat reminds the audience that they died for love and impresses the audience more deeply with the beauty and pricelessness of their love. The music for the reconciliation of the two families is “Romeo and Juliet/Romeo und Julia/Roméo et Juliette (Scenes from the Ballet)/Juliet’s Death/Julias Tod/Mort de Juliette (2004 Remastered)” by Prokofiev (1935/2004, Track 29), it sounds sacred and helps create a peaceful atmosphere. Live orchestra can produce all the music chosen above.
When it comes special sound effects should include the sound of the collides of swords and birds’ singing.
According to a chart named “Romeo and Juliet—prop list” I found online, the props that need special designs, in my opinion, including benches, masks, goblets, swords, and poison. The bench is used in all church scenes. The masks are for Benvolio, Mercucio, Romeo at the ball. The goblets are for the guests at the ball. The swords are very important due the significance of fighting in this production. The poison is for Romeo’s suicide. A drawing of all these is provided in pdf version.
For Part 4: Floorplan, see the attachment of IMG document
Written by Shakespeare, who was an English poet and playwright and widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist, Romeo and Juliet was among Shakespeare’s most popular plays during his lifetime and long with Hamlet, is one of the most frequently performed plays. Though Romeo and Juliet has been so popular and famous over hundreds of years, fewer and fewer people nowadays may know that Shakespeare didn’t actually “create” Romeo and Juliet. The plot is based on an Italian tale, translated into verse as “The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet” by Arthur Brooke, which became the most direct source of Shakespeare’s script. Romeo and Juliet has been adapted numerous times for stage, film, musical and opera. During the time of the English Restoration, it was heavily revised. In the 18th century, many modifications have been made to it, even including a happy ending. In the 19th century, the idea of realism was brought up again, and the productions were more adapt to the original script.
As for more recent productions, they include John Gielgud’s 1935 version, George Cukor’s 1936 produciton, Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 version, and Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 MTV-inspired Romeo and Juliet (“Romeo and Juliet”, n.d.) In this play, Shakespeare used considerable poetic dramatic structure, especially effects such as switching between comedy and tragedy to heighten tension, expansion of minor characters based on the original plot, and sub-plots to embellish the story. These skills are considered as his early dramatic skills. Moreover, throughout the whole production, you will feel how Shakespeare ascribed different poetic forms to different characters, and changed the form as the character develops. (“Romeo and Juliet”, n.d.) When I was viewing the script, what I was thinking about is not the tragedy of their love. Rather, I was thinking about how precious their love is to us today. I love the classic Romeo and Juliet because the two young people have what many of us may not have today. They have pure love that they regarded as more important their lives. They pursued their true selves, true love, and freedom persistently and bravely.
Though both them used to have conflicts between their true souls and the pressure from the society, they finally chose to follow their hearts. I feel sad about their tragic love, but I feel even more respect and even admire for their persistence, pure hearts and souls, and bravery. Today, families’ rivalry can seldom became real force that stops lovers from being together. However, we live in a society that is dominated by capitals and free market. Many people are getting more money, but their lives are becoming less meaningful and joyful day by day. They get lost in money, fame, power, and gradually forget about what true love is and even who they are. On the other hand, though Romeo and Juliet feel so painful and heartbroken about their tragedies; however, when both of them chose to die for each other, they are not regretful since they have used every moment of their lives to be faithful to each other, be true to themselves, and be persistent with the pursuit of love and freedom.
They have found the meaning of their lives, and comparing with those who have lost themselves, Romeo and Juliet are the real happy ones. Dear audience, maybe you have already found the love and the meaning of your life; maybe you are still on your road of finding true love or seeking for freedom and true self; maybe you have lost in this world that is too complicated and filled with temptations. However, no matter what you are going through right now, I believe Romeo and Juliet can let you feel the power of love, can revoke your desire for pure love and pure selves deep in your souls, and can direct you to the road of seeking true selves and freedom. Love, freedom, and the true self are among the most precious legacy of human beings. I hope everyone, when walk out of the theatre tonight, can ask yourselves a question: can you feel the love tonight?
Berlioz, H. (1839). Roméo et Juliette, Symphonie dramatique, Op. 17, 1ère Partie: Introduction: Combats – Tumulte – Intervention du Prince. On Berlioz: Romeo et Juliet; Les Nuits d’ete. [CD]. New York, NY: EMI Classics. (2008)
Berlioz, H. (1839). Roméo et Juliette, Symphonie dramatique, Op. 17, 3ème Partie: Nuit sereine – Le jardin de Capulet s’ilencieux et desert Les jeunes Capulets sortent de la fête, passente en chantant des reminiscences. On Berlioz: Romeo et Juliet; Les Nuits d’ete. [CD]. New York, NY: EMI Classics. (2008)
Berlioz, H. (1839). Roméo et Juliette, Symphonie dramatique, Op. 17, 3ème Partie: Scène d’amour (Adagio). On Berlioz: Romeo et Juliet; Les Nuits d’ete. [CD]. New York, NY: EMI Classics. (2008)
Berlioz, H. (1839). Roméo et Juliette, Symphonie dramatique, Op. 17, 4ème Partie: Dernières angoisses et mort des deux amants. On Berlioz: Romeo et Juliet; Les Nuits d’ete. [CD]. New York, NY: EMI Classics. (2008)
Cohen, R. (2010). Theatre: Brief Version. New Yorks, NY: McGraw-Hill.
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