If you were directing Romeo and Juliet, Act 1 scene 5, what would you want the audience to be aware of, and how might you direct their attention to these things

Romeo and Juliet is perhaps William Shakespeare’s most famous play. It is a tragedy that feature themes of love and hate, youth and age, and the close bond between the two pairs. Another strong theme is fate, it is current throughout the whole play and is shown in how Romeo and Juliet seem powerless to stop and oblivious to the destiny that we know they are about to fulfil. We are focusing on Act 1 scene 5 and the strong confrontations and feelings felt and seen in the scene.I would first try to draw the audience’s attention to the large scale and overall merriment of the ball, all is bustle in the Capulet Mansion. This is what Shakespeare seems to want when giving his stage directions in the original play. I.e. ‘the great hall in the Capulet mansion’. The grandeur of the ball seems apparent as Shakespeare says that ‘serving men come forth with napkins’. Also Shakespeare also expresses the large scale of the gathering when he writes about the uninvited guests turning up, but Capulet takes no action but just accepts them and says, ‘you are welcome, gentlemen,’ and ‘this unlooked for sport comes well,’ suggesting that one and all are welcome to his ball. Capulet turns up in the scene with a big group, with his voice seeming dominant. He seems clearly to have had a drink as he is nostalgic and his age is apparent compared to Romeo and Juliet’s youth.There is also a sense of mystery and curiosity between the males and females of the party as in the original the dramatic device of people wearing small masks were used to hide the dancer’s faces. This is the way the mystery is kept in the Franco Zefirrelli version. In a less traditional manner however, the Baz Luhrman version has all the guests in fancy dress. Shakespeare seems to contrive the hidden identity of Juliet when Romeo asks a Serving man ‘what lady doth enrich the hand of yonder knight’, with which the Serving man replies, ‘I know not sir’. This is shown to be contrived as Juliet is the daughter of the master of the house and any Serving man would surely know who she is. Romeo’s question at this point as it shows he is present at the scene, as never before in the scene has he been mentioned.I believe that Shakespeare has not mentioned ‘enter Romeo’ in the scene to make the scene seem unimportant, as also the first lines of the scene are for the servants, as if this scene is insignificant, but really it is merely a way of building up anticipation in the scene. I think that the happiness and large scale of the party is emphasized by Shakespeare and to help indicate the contrast later how a very public place can be become so private. The mystery of the party is portrayed because it adds curiosity to the audience as they know that Romeo will find Juliet, but if they are all disguised then the audience will not know who Juliet is until the director wishes them to. I would use the mask idea as I feel that it is a good way in building up the suspense of finding out who Juliet is and what she looks like.Next I would show the audience and make them aware of the sheer awethat Romeo is in when he first sets eyes on Juliet. Shakespeare seems to single out this when he wrote the ‘o she teaches the torches to burn bright’ speech, he shows this by writing it straight after Romeo has spoken to a nearby person, however Romeo then breaks into this speech which is not directed at anyone directly around Romeo. Giving the impression that he is talking in a soliloquy. This is used to show exactly what is going through Romeo’s mind at the time. Romeo’s soliloquy contains, ‘like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear’, as if she is too expensive for use on Earth. The soliloquy concludes with ‘did my heart love till now?Forswear it sight, for I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.’ This is particularly outstanding as we have seen how madly in love Romeo was with Rosaline, and he has thrown all of these feelings out the window on just seeing Juliet, showing how awestruck he is by Juliet. I would bring this across in a film by doing a close up shot just showing Romeo’s face, as if he is talking to himself as is done in the Franco Zefferelli remake. Romeo knows as soon as he sees Juliet that he has ‘ne’er seen true beauty until this night.’-disposing of his past love for Rosaline as if it was just a small crush. Even though at the time Romeo seemed madly and deeply in love with her. Romeo’s actions and words in this part of the play show how love struck he is and how much he has fallen for her.All of a sudden the mood changes dramatically when we hear Tybalt speaking evil of Romeo and all Montagues, this plays on the ply’s themes of the close link between love and hate. Next I would show the confrontation with Tybalt and Capulet. Tybalt recognises Romeo as a Montague despite his mask and he goes to Capulet to ask him why he is here. This is a fiery encounter with Tybalt standing up to his superior Capulet. Tybalt calls Romeo ‘a villain’ to Capulet and says in hatred that ‘it fits when such villain is our guest.’ Tybalt calls Romeo a villain three times in the exchange, as if Romeo has committed a crime against them (the Capulets) by just being a Montague and attending their ball. Tybalt is very aggressive (as he is throughout the play) but by this time Capulet is merry enough from the ball to play with and put down Tybalt by calling him a ‘princox’ and telling him to ‘be quiet’.This is unexpected by Capulet as he is the top man of the warring family to the Montague’s but obviously Capulet has recognised the threat from the Prince of Verona ‘to keep the peace’ and does not want anymore trouble, especially at his ball. Capulet does however fail to recognise the hatred in Tybalt’s voice towards Romeo, and perhaps even fuels it by humiliating Tybalt. Capulet tells Tybalt to ‘keep the peace’ but Tybalt leaves the scene saying, ‘this intrusion shall Now seeming sweet, convert to bitterest gall’- telling us that he is going to do something to make it turn ‘bitter’. I would show the big confrontation that this is in my version by playing frantic music and fast camera movement between the pair. I would also show Capulet hitting Tybalt around the face in a part playful part meaningful manner, with Tybalt reciting his last line behind Capulet’s back and just out of his earshot.I would then try to highlight the privacy that Romeo and Juliet find within each other and their love, even though there are many people in a busy banquet hall surrounding them. I would show this in film by only focusing on Romeo and Juliet in the camera shot and drown out the background noise that Romeo and Juliet also seem able to do with romantic music. This would show the audience how madly in love Romeo and Juliet are and how they can block out other people, as they do again later in the play when they are forbade from seeing each other.Line 92 (the line in which Romeo begins the conversation between himself and Juliet) is the first we have heard from Romeo since line 52 and obviously he has been doing something not discussed in the text, I would have Romeo following Juliet and maintaining a sly, shrewd approach to meeting Juliet but eventually he does ask her for a dance, I would then break into line 92 and begin the lover’s conversation. The language that Romeo and Juliet use in lines 92-109 also shows how confused they are in these powerful feelings that they feel for each other. Romeo says quite opposite comparisons in his lines, like ‘this holy shrine, the gentle sin is this’ and ‘to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.’ Juliet does it to, she says ‘Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much.’Juliet calls Romeo a ‘pilgrim’ and in Italian Romeo means pilgrim; Shakespeare writes this as he knows that Romeo feels in awe of Juliet and that he would willingly worship her, as if she was a God. The whole of this exchange is written in a Sonnet form, Sonnets are the conventional form of love poetry, this shows that the two of them feel the same way about each other and this is shown in the way their language links up with a mutual exchange. I would try to bring this confusion across by having the actors acting rushed and frantic, as if they were doing everything on the spur of the moment. I think that this is the same effect that Shakespeare was trying to create in their lines as he punctuates them with many commas and even some semi colons, giving a stop-start and frantic when read aloud i.e. ‘They pray; grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.’The final, major incident I would heavily emphasize in this scene would be the part where both Romeo and Juliet find out that they both are born to either of the warring families. Romeo asks the Nurse ‘what is her mother?’ and in line 113 he finally gets the answer to his question in line 41: ‘her mother is the lady of the house.’ I would show when the problem is finally realised by continuing to play romantic music until the precise moment that it dawns on them, with the music suddenly changing from romantic to very dramatic and sad. This is how both Romeo and Juliet are feeling at the time. Their lines show us their feelings, with Romeo saying ‘my life is my foe’s debt’, as if suggesting that When the nurse tells Juliet, ‘his name is Romeo, and a Montague. The only son of your great enemy.’ At this point the graveness of her love forRomeo dawns on Juliet and she says, ‘my only love sprung from my only hate’, this phrase is interchangeable for both characters as it sums up what both of them must be feeling, ‘I must love a loathed enemy,’ is another example. This again playing on the plays themes of the love and hate and the closeness the two feelings can have between one and another. This is a similar ploy to the one used in the Baz Luhrman remake of the world’s most famous love story.At this point in the novel Shakespeare has the rest of the party-goers leaving, I think that this was included by Shakespeare as a metaphor for Romeo and Juliet’s feelings, as at this point (when they find out that they are both members of the opposing families) his mad love feelings being to desert him, as do the guests, as the reality begins to set in. The way this scene ends is in total contrast to the way in which it started, with the end being sad and seeming quiet, with all of the guests gone and Romeo and Juliet feeling quiet lonely.My version of Act 1 scene 5 would be able to be affiliated with either of Baz Luhrman’s or Franco Zeferelli with its soundtrack as in both of these remakes they employ similar techniques, as they are trying to create the same effect. The actions by the characters in the different versions, however, are quite different. The Baz Luhrman version has Juliet and Romeo in a more lustful first encounter than the Zeferelli version, Juliet also seems more seductive and teasing in the way she acts. My rendition would tend to lean more to the Franco Zeferelli version as it is more traditional and more true to Shakespeare’s original masterpiece, or so I feel.

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