Romeo & Juliette
In Fewer, Words, Words, Words
Genre: Adaptation for Classroom
Cast: 15M/8F/10M/F speaking roles; doubling possible)
About the Play
This adaptation of the classic Shakespeare play is true to the original language and intent of the original. A large cast, with possible doubling, lends itself to readers theater in the classroom; it also presents community theaters opportunities to interface with the English and Drama departments in the local middle and high schools.
From the Play:
Exeunt all but Benvolio
Ay me! sad hours seem long.
Was that my father that went hence so fast?
It was. What sadness lengthens Romeo's hours?
Not having that, which, having, makes them short.
Out of her favour, where I am in love.
O me! What fray was here?
Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all.
Here's much to do with hate, but more with love.
Why, then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
Dost thou not laugh?
No, coz, I rather weep.
An if you leave me so, you do me wrong.
Tell me in sadness, who is that you love.
In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman.
I aim'd so near, when I supposed you loved.
A right good mark-man! And she's fair I love.
A right fair mark, fair coz, is soonest hit.
Well, in that hit you miss: she'll not be hit
With Cupid's arrow; she hath Dian's wit;
Then she hath sworn that she will still live chaste?
She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow
Do I live dead that live to tell it now.
Be ruled by me, forget to think of her.
O, teach me how I should forget to think.
By giving liberty unto thine eyes;
Examine other beauties.
Author comment by Robyn Hilt:
"Romeo & Juliet In Fewer Words, Words, Words"
"Words, words, words" is a quote from Hamlet. Polonius asks Hamlet and he responds with the zany "words, words, words" line. It's always struck me as a commentary on his character who is very wordy and how literature in general takes itself too seriously. Shakespeare isn't difficult it's just has lots of words, words, words. This makes it more manageable in a classroom setting.
For how it worked for me as a readers theater, this was a project I did for my Honors I English class last year to make the play more manageable, but still keep in all the things I love about Romeo & Juliet. The play is true to the first folio in that it uses Shakespearean language. I did not want to change that or to turn it into "modern English." I think that this takes away the beauty of Shakespeare's poetry and takes away a lot of the educational value of reading the play. I've always hated how most adaptations cut down Mercutio's part which is the funniest part of the show. I kept the Queen Mab speech although I cut it down and Mercutio's bawdy song is still in the show as is Lord Capulet's abuse scene and Paris' death. This version keeps in the comedy which is so often overlooked in this play. It doesn't gloss over the character's faults either. Important plot points haven't been taken out. Whose fault is it anyway? Romeo's? Lord Capulet's? The Friar? The Prince? It's the story of two teenagers in love, yes but it is also a story of teenage hormones, which is what makes it fun for high schoolers. I also, as a theatre teacher, feel strongly that plays aren't meant to be read but performed. My students understood the play much better after performing it as readers theatre. They were casted as one character and they were able to create a relationship with that character.
Despite the fact that this was written as a readers theatre, it is still a very performable version of Romeo & Juliet. It would be a great project for drama clubs who wanted to have a traveling Shakespeare play that is short enough to perform in a class period.
"It was a quick, fun production to do and offered me a good theatrical experience." --Aubrey Cady
"It's a fun and interesting way to view Romeo and Juliet."