To bring out the full dramatic qualities Of the written text The opening moments of ‘Romeo And Juliet’ bring out many dramatic qualities for the audience. The inclusion of several vital elements such as the use of language, strong characters and-of course- conflict. When ‘Shakespeare’ wrote ‘Romeo and Juliet’ he had severe restrictions on stage; his lighting came from the sky and that was the only effects he could use, he had limited props and because of a law banning women from the stage he could only use male actors.
Because of this it is obvious that my version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ will be severely different to ‘Shakespeare’s’ as I have many more resources at my disposal. If I were to stage a production of ‘Shakespeare’s’ ‘Romeo and Juliet’ I would set it in two rival schools either side of the stage… When the curtain opens the whole stage will be blacked out. Then, a member of the cast (who is playing a teacher) will come into spotlight. The actor will recite the first two lines of the prologue, which is in sonnet form.
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Then the spotlight will leave that actor and focus on another member of the cast (also playing a teacher) on the other side of the stage who will recite the next two lines of the sonnet. This will continue consecutively for the whole sonnet. However, when important lines such as; ‘Civil blood makes civil hands unclean’ and; ‘Star crossed lovers take their life’ are read both of the actors will recite them together to highlight their importance to the audience.
After the prologue the whole stage will light up to reveal that the two teachers were reciting the sonnet to their classes, one on either side of the stage. On the left (wing) side of the stage will be the casually dressed Montague’s, perhaps a little scruffier than the very formal Capulets on the right (wing) side of the stage. In ‘Shakespeare’s’ day limited funding and props for the play would have meant that only simple costumes would have been worn and perhaps all that distinguished one family from another would be the colour of their outfit, as demonstrated in the film ‘Shakespeare in Love’.
However, in my production the costumes would be more elaborate with more care to design so that the outfits worn by the actors would not only portray the ‘side’ but also their character within the play. After the prologue the cast will exit the stage and at the same time ‘Sampson’ and ‘Gregory’ will begin their conversation. Whilst speaking they will leave the stage and walk behind the school wall that segregates the front of the stage from the back of the stage (We will be able to see them at the back of the stage through windows in the wall).
‘Gregory’s’ line ‘Draw thy tool! Here comes two of the house of Montagues. Is the cue for Abraham and Balthasar of the Montagues to enter. They too will be behind the wall and can also be seen through another window. As the riot commences the wall will rotate, moving the actors to the front of the stage and the rest of the cast will join in to highlight the importance of conflict. This device will show how fights can escalate and will be symbolic of the ‘schoolboy’ hatred between the Montagues and the Capulets. To bring the brawl to an end the prince enters.
In my production he would have been watching the riot escalate from a standing position in the audience. Through the prince’s speeches the cast will start to leave the stage except for the teachers (Capulet, lady Capulet, Montague and Lady Montague). The line: “Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word” Will show the audience how childish the brawls are (as if the belong to schoolchildren). As the prince powerfully recites the last line “Once more on pain of death, all men depart. ” The stage blacks out on the remaining members of the cast on the stage depart.
When the stage is lit up again only two teachers and a pupil are on the stage and the back wall is of a school once more. When Montague asks Benvolio where Romeo is Benvolio will leave the scene and walk around to the back of the stage, where, through a window, we are able to see their conversation take place. In ‘Shakespeare’s’ time all of the cast would be dressed in very similar costume very similar to what everyone would have been wearing at the time the only difference between the two rival families would have been the colour of their outfits.
However, in my production Romeo would be dressed in a more extravagant garment so as to highlight his significance from the moment he is seen by the audience. As the conversation between Romeo and Benvolio unfolds Juliet will cause dramatic irony by walking across the front of the stage and looking through one of the windows. Romeo and Benvolio will be oblivious to their audience of one and as Romeo tells of Rosaline’s virtues Juliet will leave the stage. “I’ll pay doctrine, or else be in debt”.
Is the last line of the scene and Benvolio recites it with great Venom. Then as the two actors on stage look through the windows and through the audience the lights dim and the scene ends. This production is obviously very different to the way it would have been performed in Shakespearian times. But with technological advances and changes in the law allowing women to act it is easily possible and should bring out all the dramatic qualities of the first scene of Rome and Juliet.