Setting: I have decided to set my version of the play Romeo and Juliet in a modern day period. I will set my scene (image) in Africa. The main issue between the Capulets and Montagues will be race. The Capulets are a renowned English family and the Montague’s are also a well-known African family whom live in a multi-cultural society in the famous city, Cairo. Race in the society will be conveyed to the audience as a very sensitive issue resulting to a lot of racial hatred amongst the people of Cairo. I have decided to use the language used initially in the play, which in my opinion will be a lot more effective than the modern day English
Setting of Stage: The stage will be set as according to the initial setting in the play, which is a public place. I have decided to set the stage as a beach, which in my opinion is an ideal location as a public place. The stage will be filled with people giving the image that it’s a public place and in the centre of the stage there will be a division immediately emphasizing to the audience the racial tension amongst this society.
At the opening of act 3 scene1, I would advice the actors playing Mercutio and Benvolio to enter from right-hand side of the stage, as it would look more appropriate seen as their racial group is also on the right side of the stage. Mercutio will enter first by making his entrance loud, joyous and vivacious this will be conveyed in the form of Mercutio singing and dancing immediately giving the impression to the audience that he is a very cynical character. Soon after Mercutio entrance, Benvolio will enter following him closely; as he enters he will be shouting for Mercutio-“Mercutio, Mercutio, my dear friend Mercutio”. Both Characters walk towards the centre (division line) with Mercutio in front greeting his associates as he passes by and Benvolio following him closely emphasizing fear by his facial expression.
The atmosphere on stage overall will be positive, joyous and very lively as the lights are shining brightly on stage creating the image of a hot day, with the sun at its peak. Although the atmosphere is positive there will be clear emphasis of the racial tension as members of both group are very cautions to not step over the division line. As Mercutio and Benvolio reach centre stage (division line), Benvolio caringly places his hand on Mercutio’s shoulder pleading him to ‘retire’ in a very persuasive tone. As he wipes his immense forehead he continues to read lines 2-4,
” The day is hot, the Capels are abroad,
And if we meet we shall not escape a brawl,
For now these hot days, is the mad blood stirring”
As Benvolio reads the above lines he constantly looks around the stage in fear of the Capulets arrival, this can also be seen by the constant removal of sweat from his forehead. Mercutio replies to Benvolio in a sarcastic but also serious tone by firstly removing Benvolio’s hand from his shoulder, slowly and walking carelessly away him whilst reading lines 5-8
“Thou art like one of these fellows that, when he enters the
Confines of a tavern, claps me his sword upon the table, and says
‘God send me no need of thee!’; and by the operation of the second
Cup draws him on the drawer, when indeed there is no need”
Benvolio’s appears concerned of the accusations made about him by Mercutio, whom seems so careless that ignores the concerned Benvolio and continues to read out the lines above.
Benvolio who is standing stationary at centre stage confused and worried by the accusations made by his fellow friend, Mercutio, turns and walks towards him. As he approaches Mercutio from the back he reads the following line:
“Am I like such a fellow?”
Mercutio turns to face the concerned Benvolio who is standing behind him, and reads lines 10-12 in an eased tone placing both his hands on Benvolio’s shoulders. Benvolio disturbed by Mercutios accusations tries to continue to read line 13, appearing a little confused by what is being said. Mercutio removes his hands and turns around to continue mingling with his associates giving the impression he is not bothered in what Benvolio is saying but still replies. As the conversation between Benvolio and Mercutio continues, Mercutio’s tone of voice becomes a lot more aggressive and confrontational. This is clear given in the content of his speech (between lines 14-26) in which he ironically accuses Benevolio of being aggressive. Benvolio is distressed by what Mercutio is saying, who seems to be walking further away from him and ignoring the concern he has caused.
Mercutio is walking towards right centre stage when Benvolio runs in front of him pleading him to ‘retire’ as he continues to plead Mercutio to retire he glances around the stage briskly and notices Tybalt entering from the left hand side of the stage. The audience are quickly notified of the fear in Benvolio whom quickly lets go of the hands of Mercutio, which he was holding whilst pleading him to retire, portraying the fear. This can also be observed by the lights being brought down to a dim shade creating an atmosphere of tension. Mercutio whom seems to not be bothered of the sudden removal of Benvolio’s hands continues to mingle and dance with his associates. Mercutio walks past Benvolio who is standing in a stationary position in fear and concern of what may happen, immediately runs back infront of Mercutio announcing that Tybalt is one the scene. Again, maintaining his carelessness, Mercutio replies in an ironic tone and continues to dance and sing along with his associates.
Tybalt whose appearance alerts the audience as people (public) begin to leave the stage from both sides immediately gives the audience that the outcome to come ahead is looking severe (i.e.perhaps a fight). Tybalt gives the impression he is superior this can be expressed by his entrance and is not impressed by the mockery being made by Mercutio with his loud and sardonic dancing and singing. Trying to remain calm and collective, Tybalt reads lines 32-33 in a calm but tense tone but Mercutio continues to dance and sing loudly alone, all of a sudden there is silence on stage and Mercutio stops dancing and looks around and pretends to have just noticed Tybalt whom is beginning to loose his patience. Mercutio replies to Tybalt who is standing centre stage left (near the division line) and replies in an ironic tone. Tybalt whom at this point is beginning to loose patience with the snide comments made by Mercutio plays along with Mercutio’s response by adding the following line:
“you shall find me apt enough to that, sir, and you will give me an occasion”
Furthermore, Mercutio in an angry but sarcastic tone replies as he walks from left centre stage to right centre stage by crossing the division line. The tension between Tybalt and Mercutio rises as the rule is broken and made a mockery of by the careless Mercutio. Tybalt who begins to draw his weapon but is prevented to doing so by his friend Petruchio whom stops him and reminds him the purpose to why their there. Tybalt whom regains his calmness, once again in a polite but serious tone asks to see Romeo. Benvolio whom is standing stationary right centre stage in fear quickly speaks as there is silent on stage, Mercutio and Tybalt stare eye to eye whilst the tension grows amongst them on stage. Benvolio reads lines 43-46 briskly in fear reminding both Mercutio and Tybalt that they are in a public place.
“We talk here in the public haunt of men:
either withdraw into some private place,
or reason coldly of your grievances,
or else depart; here all eyes gaze on us.”
Enter Romeo centre backstage, appearing very gay, dreamy and absent-minded. He approaches centre stage where he greets his full of anger and aggression dear friend Mercutio by hugging him closely emphasizing his affection and strong friendship. He then moves right centre stage where he greets the distraught Benvolio and his other associates. Tybalt moves away from Mercutio and walks towards Romeo where he stands opposite him declaring he would like a word with him. Mercutio whom is rather offended by Tybalt walking away from him makes another snide comment trying to provoke Tybalt to a fight; Tybalt on the other hand carefree walks away from Mercutio and ignores the comment made by him, which increases the frustration in Mercutio.
Tybalt hoping to seek revenge from the absent-minded Romeo whom refuses Tybalt’s challenge to fight and tries to placate him by a peace offering of a hand shake. Tybalt furiously hits away Romeo’s hand with his foot refusing to do any such thing whilst reading lines 59-60 in a very angry and aggressive tone of voice:
“Buy, this shall not excuse the injuries
that thou hast done to me, therefore turn and draw”
Romeo’s response to the above speech read by Tybalt is a shock to everyone in lines 61-65. Mercutio, who is angry by Romeo’s refusal to fight, challenges Tybalt and provokes him once again in a sarcastic but serious tone, in the following lines, lines 66-68:
“O calm, dishonourable, vile submission!
‘alla stoccata’ carries it away [Draws]
Tybalt you rat catcher, will you walk?
Tybalt accepts with pleasure the invitation for a fight and draws his gun happily. Tension between the two characters is very strong as both characters look eye to eye as their anger rises. Romeo runs forward from right stage to centre stage in between the two characters pleading them to stop, facing Mercutio, Romeo reads lines 78-81 in great agony holding Mercutio’s hand to show his love and affection for his dear friend and pleads him to put away his gun. Two gunshots are heard on stage, one shot by Tybalt and the other by Mercutio to signify they are both ready for a fight. Romeo is forcefully removed from Mercutio by him but reluctant to move away Romeo comes back resulting to Romeo and Mercutio on the floor with Romeo on top trying to remove the gun from his friend’s hand. Tybalt watches the two friends in amusement and sees an ideal opportunity in seeking revenge from Romeo whilst he was on the floor. A gunshot is heard and there is silence on the stage, the lights go out, a loud scream is heard and people running of stage.
The lights are put on again very shortly at a very dim shade; lying centre stage is Mercutio with Romeo, Benvolio and his other associates. Romeo lets out a huge sigh of relief not aware that his dear friend is severely injured. As he removes himself from Mercutio he notices blood on his hand, at first he is confused but later sees his dear friend, Mercutio lying beside him sweating in pain, Benvolio runs to Mercutio’s aid. Romeo tries to console his friend by telling him the wound cannot be very severe and so be brave. Mercutio replies in a sarcastic but also angry tone of voice portraying how severe his pain is by reading lines 88-94. Mercutio’s tone of voice between lines 88-94 becomes a lot weaker emphasizing the great deal of pain he is in but also becomes a lot more angry also emphasizing his anger towards Romeo for coming between him and Tybalt during the fight. The following line is said with great deal of anger and aggression by Mercutio even though he is in a great deal of pain;
“A plague a’ both houses”
Although the above line is said by Mercutio numerous times after the fight it is seen as a vital speech, the tone used for this speech by the actor will be very serious with no use of irony as these are the last words heard by this particular actor on stage. The actor should emphasize by his facial expression that the mental wounds these two families have caused him are a lot more severe than the physical wound he is dying from at this present time. This expression should be very clear and visual resulting to the actual speech presented on stage being a lot more effective and successful.
Mercutio exits right side stage with the aid of Benvolio and other associates. Romeo sits on the floor at centre stage, crying as a result to Mercutio’s speech. His facial and body language portray the overall effect of Mercutio’s speech. There is silence on the stage as the dim shade of light is brought to centre stage focusing on Romeo. Romeo reads lines 100-106 in a very emotional tone with tears running down his face emphasizing his response to what has happened.
Suddenly, the lights are drawn back from centre to backstage creating a dim shade on the entire stage. Benvolio runs onto stage from right side stage, calling for “Romeo!” loudly as he enters. He stands centre right stage shouting for Romeo whilst glancing around the stage, finally he notices Romeo on the floor centre stage, who does not respond when being called for by Benvolio. Benvolio rushes to him at once, placing his hand on his shoulder whilst announcing the dreadful news regarding the death of Mercutio. He reads lines 107-109 very slowly in an emotional tone of voice clearly portraying to the audience that Benvolio himself is disturbed by the horrific news. Romeo is shocked by the news as he does not make any physical movement for a moment and his facial expression emphasizes the shock and devastation due to the death of Mercutio. Romeo who’s feeling are confused with a mixture of emotion and aggression of the present situation declares revenge for his dear friends death. Romeo reads lines 110-111 in a very emotional but desperate tone as he sees revenge as the only option left.
“This day’s black fate on moe days doth depend,
This but begins the woe others must end.”
Enter Tybalt left side stage, hurrying onto stage to see what are the outcomes of the action he committed. He stops at left side stage in surprise to see Romeo sitting but soon realises by the emotional state of Romeo it was Mercutio whom he shot and killed by the visual appearance of Romeo on stage who is grieving. Tybalt puts his head down not being able to come to terms to what he has done, Benvolio notices Tybalt standing left stage and whispers to the distressed Romeo that Tybalt is on the scene. The inconsolable Romeo is furious and seeks revenge for the death of Mecutio. In lines113-120 Romeo speaks in an aggressive tone declaring only revenge from Tybalt. Tybalt on the other-hand who feels awful for the death of Mercutio, at first Tybalt refuses the challenge by Romeo but later accepts emphasizing his character as very conniving and devious. Tybalt’s refusal at first is only made by a facial expression emphasizing he does not seem keen for a fight but later his real characteristics are shown when he accepts the challenge.
Benvolio who tries to console Romeo pleads him not to fight as he sees the only outcome to be fatal. The furious Romeo attacks Tybalt resulting him to lying on the floor. Tybalt struggles to remove the gun from his left ankle whilst on the floor. The aggressive and absent minded Romeo takes out his gun and shoots Tybalt in the chest whilst he is on the floor struggling to get up. There is silence on the stage as Tybalt draws his last breath. Tybalt lies left centre stage, Romeo stands gazing at his body in shock. Benvolio struggles to pull Romeo who is standing stationary with the murder weapon in his hands, Benvolio finally manages to take the confused and shocked Romeo off right-side stage.
Enter Tybalt’s friend Petruchio and associates, they discover Tybalt’s dead body. Moments later a police officer arrives on the stage questionning people regarding the murders that took place. There is silence on the stage as the Prince enters from centre backstage with the Capulets entering
on to the stage from the left side and the Montagues from the right side of the stage. The silence remains on the stage for a few moments till Lady Capulet cries aloud after viewing the body of her dear cousin Tybalt. The Prince is at centre stage where he reads line 132 out aloud
“Where are the vile beginners of this fray”?
The silence remains on the stage as the Prince glances around at the people on the stage. Benvolio speaks in a confident and noble tone of voice responding to the Prince’s question. Benvolio very briefly tells who is responsible for the deaths he does not add any biased views, he simply speaks aloud declaring who killed whom. Lady Capulet cries loudly after hearing that Romeo was responsible for the death of her beloved cousin and declares that the only punishment appropriate is capital punishment. The Prince, taking in account what Lady Capulet has said asks Benvolio in a serious but angry tone (because of all the grief these families have caused this society) what had happened. Bevolio tell the story as it happened and there are no biased views added showing the trustworthy and honest character he is. He begins by explaining how Tybalt helped put himself where he is by killing Mercuito. Benvolio standing directly in front of the Prince tells the story behind the two deaths. The tone of voice used during this speech is very serious and non-biased.
His facial expression also is very serious making his speech overall a lot more effective. Lines 143-153 are explained by Benvolio clearly showing the actions of each character especially Tybalt who started this whole fiasco when he killed Mercutio. Benvolio explains in detail how Romeo came between Mercuito and Tybalt during the fight and as a result Mercutio was wounded under Romeo’s arm. He then moves on to saying in the last lines of his speech, lines 154-165 how the devastated Romeo confused in his emotions over the death of Romeo, he kills Tybalt. It is important that the characters tone of voice does not change during this time because Romeo is a friend of his. Benvolio must maintain his serious and confident tone, as this is a huge reflection to his character. The speech ends at line 166 where Benvolio swears the account of the murders is true. The tone used for this final part of the speech is very trusting and again serious;
“This is the truth, or let Benvolio die”
After Benvolio’s account of the incident that occurred Lady Capulets speaks furiously in a bitter tone of voice, not accepting his account of the incident simply because he’s a Montague. She also declares once again to the Prince that Romeo must be given the Capital Punishment and nothing less. Hearing Lady Capulet, Lady Montague cries out aloud that Romeo is not to blame for his actions but Tybalt. Her tone is very serious and pleads the Prince for not capital Punishment. Lady Montague is in tears afraid of what her son’s future holds for him and is being comforted by her husband. There is silence on the stage just before the Prince gives the final verdict. The verdict is said in a sorrowful tone but also serious tone as both families were informed of the consequences of such severe actions. The Montagues cry out a loud emphasizing their response to the verdict, whilst the Capulets leave the stage after the Prince (left side stage) not satisfied with the verdict. Benvolio puts his head down, speechless in response to the verdict. The lights go off and the curtains falls, Act 3 scene 1 ends.