1 Romeo & Juliet: Student Actor Notes Read the notes for your Character! They will really help you look and sound better on stage because you will have a better idea of what you are doing. People who don t read these notes first and then do the parts don t do as well. Important pronunciation note for all student actors: "Tybalt" is "Ti" (as in "tick") and "balt" (as in"walt"). "Mercutio" is "Myrrh" like one of the wise men brings to the manger, "Cue" like the white ball on a billiards table and "she owe" as in "you owe me $40". Mantua is Man and chewa as in chew a guy out for totaling your car. Citizens You are just ordinary people on the street. Some of you work in stores, some of you are out to shop, some on your way to school or work. You HATE it when the Capulets and Montagues fight. And now they are fighting again. Young punks with swords. And you have no weapons, so you call out hoping someone can bring Clubs, Bills, Partisans! so you can all gang up on them and knock some sense into them. The trick to making it work is to call to someone specific offstage very directly, and believe that they can help you and need to do so now, before the brawl gets any bigger. Even if you imagine you are calling to your own real big brother sister uncle or cousin to come and protect you from whatever baddies you may have in your life, that will work. First Servant i It's mid-morning, the day of the big party. You are following your master Capulet around town. He gives you a list of people to invite to the party, and takes off to take care of something else. You're quite happy to do it, but you can't read, which he has forgotten. You decide you need to find someone who can read (" I must to the learned" )- but only as soon as you've had a nap (" in good time"). While you're napping, this guy comes and just about sits on you, which wakes you up. Not being one to miss an opportunity, you ask him if he can read. He answers strangely, and you decide to leave him and find someone actually helpful ("ye say honestly, rest ye merry"). Then he tells you to stay, and reads the list off to you, and you make a point of memorizing it as he reads it out, probably repeating it after him under your breath. He's been so helpful that you decide to invite him to the party ("come and crush a cup of wine"), and let him know it's at your master's. Act I Scene v When one of the maskers who has crashed the party and made more work for you (Romeo) asks you who Juliet is, you pretend you don't know.
2 Act IV Scene iv It's 3AM. You have been working like a dog to try to get enough food ready for the wedding Capulet has suddenly decided is going to happen tomorrow. You are dead on your feet, carrying things to people all night, jumping whenever the nurse, the cook, Capulet or Lady Capulet sends you anywhere. Second Servant ii It's now supper-time. The big party is on, and it's chaos at the Capulet s' ("everything in extremity"). You get sent to find out the Nurse, Lady Capulet, and Juliet and to bring them into the party and let them know it's in full swing and they need to join supper is served up. You can't stay - you have to go bring the guests their food, and you nearly beg them to follow right behind you. So you head off, but then you hear Lady Capulet ask Juliet if she can like the County Paris. You cannot keep going without hearing more, until Lady Capulet gives you hell, nearly shouting to you to Go in! That may be after it says you exit in the script. Things change. Act IV Scene iv It's 3AM. You have been working like a dog to try to get enough food ready for the wedding Capulet has suddenly decided is going to happen tomorrow. You are dead on your feet, carrying things to people all night, jumping whenever the nurse, the cook, Capulet or Lady Capulet sends you anywhere. Capulet tells you to go get some drier logs for the stove, and tells you to get Peter to tell where they are. You let him know you're smart enough to find logs without bugging Peter. Peter Act II Scene iv You are Peter, an excellent servant in the house of the Capulet. You are the personal servant to the Nurse, who is the head servant in the household. For some reason, she's had you running all over town with her today. And you are dog tired. She wants everything yesterday, so you need to tell her she'll have to wait. That's what "anon" means - "in a minute". No use falling over yourself to give her what she wants the second she asks for it - that's the way to wear yourself out so you're no good to anyone for anything. She finds the people she seems to be looking for, and tries to act like a lady with them. One of them, who is quite hilarious tosses her around a bit, all in good fun, and then she has the nerve to accuse you of failing to protect her. The trick is she's always acting like you're in trouble, and you're always acting like she needs to chill out. You need to nap and keep falling asleep. Mercutio s Page Act III Scene i - Mercutio's Page You come on with Mercutio, and watch in bewilderment as he runs like a madman swinging his sword around at imaginary enemies in the street. The scene progresses, and he ends up fighting Tybalt, and he's funny as hell about it, which you enjoy to no end - Mercutio is whacking Tybalt on the butt with his
3 sword, and basically taking him down a peg, which everyone enjoys. But then it turns out Mercutio got hurt when Romeo comes between them. At first you think he is jacking around, pretending to be hurt, but when he yells at you to get a surgeon, you know it must be bad, so you hurry off to find one. Unfortunately, Mercutio dies before any surgeon can get to him. Lady Montague Your husband has been in a silly fight over nothing with Capulet forever. Every week there is some stupid brawl or other, some times people get killed. You hear the sound of a fight, and then your husband leaves you to rush to it. You arrive just after the Prince has broken up the fight. Your husband's nephew Benvolio is there, and you ask him if he's seen your son Romeo - who you are worried about because he's staying out all night and sleeping all day. The sun is up and he hasn't been home yet. Act III Scene i There is a huge commotion in the street and there are rumours flying about that Romeo has killed someone. This is VERY bad, as the prince has promised death to both your husband and Capulet if there is ever another fight in the street between any Montague and a Capulet. Almost certainly the people who did the fighting will also die, so that means that both your son and husband could be executed nastily. You rush on to find Tybalt dead, and your nephew Benvolio facing down the Prince and the entire Capulet family. You are extremely worried about your son, who is nowhere to be seen. You look to Benvolio for the answers. Benvolio tells that Tybalt killed Mercutio (your son s best friend), and in revenge Romeo killed Tybalt. Lady Capulet calls for Romeo s death, and the prince asks what should be done. You must stand up for your son and save his life. You stand forward and say that Romeo should not pay the death penalty since if he had not killed Tybalt then the law would have ( his fault concludes but what the law should end, the life of Tybalt ). You have some hope the Prince will listen to you, because your son just avenged his cousin s death. The prince declares that Romeo will not die, but be banished instead, which in these times is as good as death: you will never see your son again. You and Benvolio cry out in protest, but are quelled by the prince s guards shut you up. At the end of the prince s decree, Benvolio and your get out of there as quickly as possible because the Capulet family is staring you down as though they are going to kill you, and there are swords within their reach. Later, at the end of the play your husband tells us that you have died of a broken heart (due to Romeo s banishment), so this is a very intense, emotional scene when you hear of Romeo s banishment. He is your only child. Cousin Capulet Act I Scene v You are the cousin to Capulet. You two have been partying together since time
4 began. Tonight his party gets crashed by a bunch of young boys in masks, who really liven things up. He asks you when it was that he and you last crashed a party like that - and you say thirty years, and enjoy remembering it with him. You will also take part in the court dance that occurs in this scene, partnering with one of the young ladies present at the dance, which is a lot of fun for your character, because his wife can t dance but he can. Gregory In your first scene you and Sampson, who is a servant of the Capulets just like you, get to pick a fight with a couple of Montague's servants. The scene starts off with you giving Sampson hell for saying he will get violent with Capulet's maids or female servants. Then he tells you that after he's fought the men he'll cut off the heads of the maids (!!!!). You then give him even more hell (The heads of the maids??!!!) - what is this, Iraq 2006 or something? then he explains the pun - he'll take their virginity by ravishing them ( Aye, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads, take it in what sense thou wilt ) and he rips on you for not getting the joke. Then you two have a bit of fun making bawdy jokes associated with male virility: jokes such as: " me they shall feel while I am able to stand " etc. as you see a couple of Montague's servants enter. You goad them into fighting with you, especially because you see Tybalt (your master's kinsman) coming, who will totally help you win the fight. All it takes is for Abraham to call you a liar, and it is on! Act III Scene i You come to the place where you know Romeo hangs out with his buddies. You're there as backup for Tybalt, who is really angry because Romeo crashed your master's party last night. Tybalt wants to fight Romeo. But Romeo won't fight him - he wusses out completely. Then Mercutio picks a fight with your man Tybalt. It's a good fight, and Mercutio is hilarious. You think it's all fun and games after a bit, until an obvious place in the fight choreography where it looks like any 2 of Romeo, Tybalt and Mercutio could have been stabbed. You see that Tybalt has blood on his dagger, and you know you have to get him out of there before the cops come, so you do. When you are offstage he insists on going back, and he does, without you. You enter after hearing there is a fight, and find him there dead. You are absolutely infuriated when the prince says that Romeo will be banished instead of killed as punishment for killing Tybalt. You and all the other Capulets think he should be chopped to bits. Abraham 1 and Balthasar 1 Minding your own business, the two of you walk past a couple of scumbags from the house of Capulet lazing about in the sun, and one of them bites his thumb at you, which is a worse insult than giving someone the finger is today. Abraham, you call him on it. Then the rotten swine has the gall to weasel out of it and say he wasn't biting his thumb at you, which he obviously was. You don't want to get sucked into the fight, but when he says that he serves a better master than you (after you
5 dare him to with "No better"), it's too much, you have to call him on the lie. The fight is on, in which you must beat Sampson and Gregory for the honour of your household. Benvolio and Tybalt show up and get into a sword fight, at which point the Prince shows up and threatens all of you with death if you are ever caught fighting again. You get out of there as quickly as possible once the prince has dismissed everyone. Abraham 2 and Balthasar 2 v You two are on your way to crash the Capulets' party. In this world, there is a form of party-crashing that everyone loves, and that hosts really appreciate. Young guys like yourselves put on capes and masks, grab a drum and some torches, and beat the drum wildly outside the door of the party. The host of the party brings all the girls inside to the door. When the host opens the door, some of the guys do a manly dance to impress the ladies, lit by the guys carrying the torches. If the dance is good, the host welcomes them into the party, where they are expected to dance more for and with the ladies, flirt up a storm, eat and drink lots, and go home. You two are supposed to be the torchbearers. The scene takes place right outside Capulet's door. Romeo (your master and your friend) keeps whining about wanting to be a torchbearer, because he's too sad to dance (the torchbearers don t dance they light up the dancers). One of you even gets to steal your torch back from him. It's like he doesn't want to go to the party and is being a real loser. You join in with Mercutio s teasing of him until he finally gives in and agrees to at least come and beat the drum. You then enter into the party with the rest of the guys. Act II Scene i It's 2 AM. You are coming back from the party, which was a blast Capulet was actually cool, he loved having you guys there, the girls were cute, the food and wine were awesome, they loved the dancing, and you totally fooled them. You're missing Romeo though, and you don't want to leave the Capulet side of town without him. You guys are sure that he's around here somewhere, so Balthasar you call for him. Mercutio keeps insisting that Romeo's gone home to bed, but you know for a fact that if you can just get Mercutio to call him, Romeo will come, because Mercutio can make any of you do just about anything. Mercutio decides to go one better: he ll make a magic spell to conjure Romeo, referring to the power of Rosaline's sexy body -her " fine foot, straight leg and quivering thigh, and the domains that there adjacent lie". Romeo doesn't come out of the trees where he is hiding, so Balthasar you decide to give up on him and taunt him with Come, he hath hid himself among these trees, Blind is his love and best befits the dark. You know he can hear you. Saying, "Blind is his love is" is calling Rosaline a dog. You're hoping that by mocking his love he'll come crashing out of the bushes to call you on it, and then you can all gang up on him and make fun of him. It doesn't work and you all go home. Balthasar 3 (or 2 if the same student is playing both parts) Act V Scene i
6 The Prince has banished Romeo from Verona, and he has gone to Mantua. It's your job to bring him news from Friar Lawrence about whatever is going on. But you see Juliet being buried, and by this time you know that she and Romeo are married. So you head for Mantua that instant, riding hard all day so that you can tell Romeo the bad news. He asks you twice how Juliet is. You don't answer the first time because telling someone his wife is dead is not an easy thing to do. After he asks the second time you break the news that she is dead. "Her kindred's vault" means the Capulet Family tomb. "Presently took post to tell it you" means you immediately rode to Mantua to tell him. Then he tells you to hire some horses and get ink and paper. You don't know what he's planning, but hiring horses at sundown means riding all night somewhere, and you sure hope it's not Verona, because if he's found there he's a dead man. He looks crazy, you ask him to have patience, to calm down. You don't think he should be riding all night anywhere after hearing that his wife is dead, and you know you shouldn't, after riding all day. He shuts you up and sends you off for horses. Act V Scene iii It's about 3AM. You've been riding from Mantua since sundown. You're exhausted and terrified. Romeo has brought you back to the graveyard in Verona with him. And he would not tell you why as you were headed there. He takes your torch, and tells you to take a letter to his father and not to come back, or he'll tear you apart physically and throw your arms and legs all over the churchyard. You tell him you'll leave him. Then he gives you way too much money, and you go to retrieve the police ( the watch) because you are afraid of what he is going to do and you think that they will be able to stop him. The watch takes you into custody (off-stage) and then they bring you and Friar Lawrence on to the tomb once the Prince has arrived. You hear that Romeo is dead, so is Juliet, but newly so, which is shocking you saw her buried yesterday. When the Prince asks you what you know about what's happened you offer the evidence you have - the letter Romeo gave you earlier. Apothecary Act v Scene i The apothecary is a very important part - he sells Romeo the poison to kill himself. He's one of Shakespeare's great little characters. Romeo has a great description of him as part of the scene. In the uncut version he goes into great detail about your shop and what you look like. You are poor. Starving poor. Your job is to make drugs by hand. Business has not been good. You are best at making poisons, and those are illegal in Mantua - you could get executed for selling them. So when Romeo first bangs on your door - the first customer you've had in a month, you are surprised - the business day is over - then he asks for poison, which you don't want to sell him, but he offers you enough money that you break down and sell it to him.
7 First and Second Watch and Officer You are the muscle for the Prince - you protect him, and you make sure that people obey him and listen to him while he speaks. In your first scene, you hear that there is a brawl to break up, and you go with the Prince to the street where the brawl is taking place. You need to intimidate everyone into listening to the Prince. You need to move and stand with purpose and determination. Act III Scene i In your second scene, things have gotten worse - there has been a brawl, and the Prince's Cousin Mercutio has been killed. You hear that Tybalt killed him, and you enter to arrest him, only to find him dead on the ground. The Prince attempts to sort out what has happened. He sentences Romeo to be banished, which upsets both the Montagues and the Capulets. When they object, you must intimidate them into silence to allow the prince to finish. Act V Scene i You are very important in the final scene - without Officer 1 and Officer 2 you the Prince and Capulet and Montague would never find out why Romeo and Juliet died, and the feud might well have gone on for a hundred years. You get the call to come to the graveyard, hearing there has been a fight. When you get there the Prince has already come. Officer, you find Romeo dead in the Capulet s' mausoleum, and Juliet who we thought dead yesterday now warm as though she had just died! We need to treat the final scene as a crime scene in a place where murders are rare, even if brawling deaths are common. Through your acting the audience needs to know THERE HAS BEEN A MULTIPLE MURDER FOR WHICH SOMEONE MUST PAY. And the murderer could still be out there or at hand. With no time to waste you bring in the Friar and Balthazar who are the only two witnesses/suspects that you currently have. For the Friar and Balthazaar, screwing up here might mean execution for them both. You are ready to take them to be executed at any given moment as they are speaking. You want to stay certain IT IS A FRESH FEUD-CRIME UNTIL WE HEAR THAT TWO OF THE DEAD ENEMIES WERE MARRIED. That one should visibly shock every character onstage. Friar John It s a lovely day in Verona. You enter calling for Friar Lawrence, near where you expect to find him gardening. He hears you and greets you, and asks you what Romeo said when you gave him the letter Friar L asked you to deliver to him in Mantua (you were already taking him some herbs there anyway). You explain that before you could leave Verona, the public health officials quarantined you and the letter in the house you were visiting, which they thought was infected with the plague. You just got out of that house now, so your trip to Mantua is off, so you give the letter back to him in case someone else can take it. Then Friar Lawrence gets really excited, and tells you the letter was really urgent, and asks for a crowbar.