Angela Chang teaches English at ACE Technical Charter School in Chicago, Illinois.
Romeo and Juliet
What's On for Today and Why
How do we know when our students are aware of the thoughts and motivations of the characters they read about? In this lesson, students will use their knowledge and analysis of the characters to produce a "cross-fire" show where characters interview one another in a discussion format.
This lesson will take three 45-minute class periods.
What You Need
Folger edition of Romeo and Juliet
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts
What To Do
1. Explain to students that today's activity will require them to look closely at the thoughts, actions, and possible motivations of the major characters in Romeo and Juliet. They will be able to take part in recreating those characters in order to have a present-day discussion in the classroom!
2. Divide the class into groups or pairs; assign each group a character from the play—Romeo, Juliet, Ladies Capulet and Montague, Lords Capulet and Montague, the Friar, Mercutio, Tybalt, the Nurse, and Paris. If necessary, one group may be assigned to both Lady and Lord Capulet and another to both Lady and Lord Montague.
3. Each group is responsible for choosing one person to be their "representative" of the character. For example, if one group is assigned Romeo, the group decides who will be Romeo in the discussion. The group is responsible for discussing the actions, thoughts, feelings, and motivations of the character based on the text and previous class discussion so that their representative will be able to speak, react, and become the character. How will the character enter the stage? What will his general attitude be? How would he respond to any obvious question? What questions would he ask? The representative should have answers to these in mind. Allow at least 30 minutes for students to prepare.
4. Explain the rules of the "cross-fire", or have the students establish the rules themselves. Some rules you may want to include are:
•All the characters must speak at least three times.
•No character may cut off another character.
•Only one character speaks at a time.
•Students must remain in character.
5. Have all the characters sit "on stage" facing the rest of thet class (the audience). You may pick a student to be "the host" to introduce the characters and/or moderate the discussion, or you may take those roles yourself, or omit them. The host should prompt one character to speak. If the discussion ever comes to a lull, the moderator can interject by asking the characters to consider a particular situation.
6. It is up to you when the discussion ends. Conclude with some debriefing and reflection. Discuss with your class:
•If you portrayed a character, how did you feel on stage? What did you feel you did well? Where could you have improved?
•As an audience member, did you feel your representative portrayed the character accurately? What did they do well? What were some areas they could improve? Was there anything your group could have done differently to prepare?
•Which were the most difficult questions to answer? Why?
•Did the audience feel the representatives remained true to their characters? Why or why not? Were there differences between the characters in the text and those in the interpretation?
•Did you learn anything new from this activity?
How Did It Go?
Were students able to translate their text-based knowledge of the characters into convincing and authentic performances on stage? Were students able to identify characteristics of the characters and get a better idea of each one's relationship to the plot of the play, and to one another?
If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.