William Shakespeare’s famous play Romeo and Juliet - Sample Essay
My practical work for performing arts was performed on the 17th of July with the year 6 class from ST Thomas’s, a local feeder school, as our audience. Our piece was a devised piece based on William Shakespeare’s famous play Romeo and Juliet. For the dialogue of our piece we used both scripted Shakespearean language and also scripted modern day language rather than use all of Shakespeare’s own terms. The Shakespearean characters were those in the Capulet family especially Juliet where as those of the Montague’s spoke more modern based to show the difference between the two sides.
For our dances we use a dance-drama style as performing arts includes both these aspects. An example of this style was performed for our opening scene. This scene was one of the most important in the production as it introduced the play with a monologue in the form of the narration to set the scene for the audience. It also included tableaux’s in between the movements to express the dispute between the two families. Throughout the play we used many different types of performing one of these was physical theatre.
Here we used members of the cast to create objects for instance, during the balcony scene people were used to make an image of a balcony rather than using set for Juliet to stand behind. Another example of physical theatre was during the wedding night scene. In producing a bed image material was also required as a prop to make the bed look more realistic, and luxurious. Initially we intended to do more than one split scene but had to cut it due to the fact that a new scene had to be added and so we were only left with a split scene during the Capulet party scene.
This involved the dancers at the back remaining in tableaux whilst the meeting of Romeo and Juliet took place in the form of a dance-drama duet at the front. For my role in the play I performed the part of Lady Capulet the mother of Juliet. This involved being a part of many of the group scenes and most speaking scenes at some stage. I was also one of the few members of the cast who had a Shakespearean periodic costume, which during the mother and trio dance, which I lead, prevented some of my regular movement. The style of the play was a combination of both modern and periodic settings concerning the costume style and the language used.
The main characters were dressed in Shakespearean type clothing where as the chorus were dressed in a more modern style of outfits. These included standard blacks plus extreme punk type makeup and hair colours with spiked chains and bracelets, and also modern sweatbands on some cast members. Even these costumes varied slightly between the two families as different colours of hair and makeup reflected different households. As a part of our preparation we watched the film of Romeo and Juliet directed by Baz Luhrman. This influenced how we performed in many ways.
For the film version only Shakespearean language was spoken although this was abridged. Although the language was of a periodic style the costumes were modern as were many of the other aspects of the film. It is well know that the Capulet’s and the Montague’s were very powerful in the city of Verona and to represent this power Baz Luhrman has used modern day symbols of power such as guns, expensive modern day cars, helicopters etc. Baz also uses the television to represent a narrator as a news reporter telling the opening sonnet of the play as the introduction.
A very important aspect of the play is the musical score which also is a representation of modern day as the music involved is performed by bands such as Radio head and Garbage and is loud an exciting. My opinion of the film is quite mixed as I found some of the aspects to be good and some not as well done. For instance the actors all performed well and the attitudes of the characters were captured well. However I didn’t like the contrast between modern settings and Shakespearean language, as the language is confusing and hard to understand and would have been improved by a variation to modern day during some of the more complicated scenes.
Although the film in general was excellent during exciting scenes where everything happened quickly. It helped to give us understanding of how to play our characters better. Both versions of the play had many similarities and also some differences. For instance for our music we used some similar music but we varied ours by also using some classical music by Prokofiev, which was used in the ballet of Romeo and Juliet.
Another similarity however is parts of the different pieces were set in modern day gang warfare and no character tended to do any thing alone with the exceptions of Romeo and Juliet. The perhaps main difference between the two versions is the scenes themselves. Baz Luhrman chose to use almost all of the scenes while as we selected only key scenes as we only had limited time to rehearse and perform. Also some scenes between various characters couldn’t be added, as there weren’t enough people to play them for example the Lords and Romeos mother.
In conclusion I would like to say that watching the film helped us in our performance in many ways. For instance in watching the film we got to see the ways in which characters respond to each other whilst acting. It also portrayed more detail in the way these characters behave and speak so we could influence our own acting to correspond with that of real actors and actresses. The film also inspired the settings and modern day style of costume and language, which then gave us ideas for the music to be used for some of our scenes.
If we hadn’t have watched the film before hand I think scripting and mainly performing the play would have been a lot more difficult as we wouldn’t have had such a good idea of what we were trying to achieve. Although I think it would have been better to see a professional performance of the play as plays and films are set in very different surroundings and watching a performance would have helped us better in that sense but overall we performed reasonably well most of which was due to effort and having the opportunity to see real actors and actresses perform.