One reason young (and older) audiences find Shakespeare difficult is that our attention spans have shortened over the years. We have learned to listen for sound bites. This adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” by Robyn Hilt pares down the original but retains the major plot points and beauty of the poetry. “Romeo & Juliet in Fewer Words, Words, Words” is an ideal choice for classroom presentation. All of the major scenes and plot points are intact, as well as the humor of the Nurse and Mercutio. Students take one role and develop that character through analyzing motives and decisions; in other words, they learn to analyze and interpret the play from the inside out. Robyn Hilt states “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.”
From the Play
ACT I PROLOGUE Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.
SCENE I. Verona. A public place. In this scene are everyone EXCEPT Juliet, Nurse, Peter, Paris, and Mercutio. Enter SAMPSON and GREGORY, of the house of Capulet, armed SAMPSON Gregory, o’ my word, we’ll not carry coals. GREGORY No, for then we should be colliers. GREGORY To move is to stir; and to be valiant is to stand: therefore, if thou art moved, thou runn’st away.
Enter ABRAHAM and BALTHASAR
SAMPSON A dog of that house shall move me to stand:
I will take the wall of any man or maid of Montague’s.
GREGORY Draw thy tool! here comes two of the house of the Montagues.
SAMPSON My naked weapon is out: quarrel, I will back thee.
GREGORY How! turn thy back and run? I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it as they list. SAMPSON Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it. ABRAHAM Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
SAMPSON No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.
GREGORY Do you quarrel, sir?
SAMPSON If you do, sir, I am for you: I serve as good a man as you. ABRAHAM No better.
GREGORY Say ‘better:’ here comes one of my master’s kinsmen.
SAMPSON Yes, better, sir. ABRAHAM You lie.
SAMPSON Draw, if you be men. Gregory, remember thy swashing blow.
They fight. Enter BENVOLIO