Louise Mann teaches English and theater at Martinsburg High School in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
Romeo and Juliet, Acts 1 and 2
This lesson may be adapted for use with other plays.
What's On for Today and Why
In this lesson, students are asked to hypothesize about what characters are thinking, feeling, and doing in the unscripted intervals between the scenes of Romeo and Juliet. They will create and perform one of these scenes for the class.
This lesson will take at least two class periods. For a shorter lesson, ask students to do only one of the two writing assignments.
What You Need
Folger edition of Romeo and Juliet
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts
What To Do
1. After reading the play, return to 1.5, in which Lord Capulet berates Tybalt for wishing to begin a brawl with Romeo at the Capulet ball. In a full group discussion, review what we know of Tybalt's actions and words after the ball. We know, for instance, that Tybalt sends Romeo a letter of challenge.
2. Divide students into groups of three to five and ask them to think about Tybalt's thoughts and actions between the end of the Capulet celebration and his reappearance in 3.1. Ask them to find textual evidence for their opinions, especially from 1.5 and 3.1.
3. Ask each group of students to write the letter that Tybalt sends to Romeo. What kind of language does he use? How cordial or direct is he?
4. Now ask students to think more specifically about Tybalt's actions while he is off stage between 1.5 and 3.1. Who is with him? What does he say to those people? What is his plan for the confrontation? Ask each group to write and rehearse a brief scene to show us what Tybalt is doing during this time.
5. Ask each group to read its letter and perform its scene for the class. Ask them to discuss the reasons for the choices that they have made, including any ideas they may have discussed but ultimately rejected.
6. Conclude with a discussion of the similarities and differences between the scenes. What can students conclude about the character of Tybalt? What can they conclude about Shakespeare's reasons for keeping these scenes off stage?
How Did It Go?
Were the students' letters and scenes logical offshoots from Shakespeare's text? Were students reasonably able to duplicate the language of the text? Could they defend their choices well? Were the performances well-prepared and interesting to watch?
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.