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William Shakespeare’s ROMEO & JULIET Adapted for Young Students DIRECTOR’S SUPPORT By Marieka Peterson Greene

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William Shakespeares

ROMEO & JULIETAdapted for Young Students


By Marieka Peterson Greene


1 1 Prologue Prince, Romeo, Juliet

2 1-6 Capulets and Montagues brawl in the streets. Gregory, Sampson, Abram, Balthasar, Benvolio, Prince gives them a final warning. Tybalt, CiJzens, Capulet, Lady Capulet, Montague, Lady Montague, Prince, Watchmen.

3 6-8 Montague and Lady Montague speak with Montague, Lady Montague, Benvolio. Benvolio about Romeo.

4 8-11 Benvolio and MercuJo speak with Romeo. Benvolio, Romoe, MercuJo, Peter. They make plans to aQend the Capulets party.

5 11-13 Lady Capulet asks Juliet about marriage. Juliet, Nurse, Lady Capulet, Potpan.

6 13-15 Montagues arrive at the party. Romeo sees MercuJo, Benvolio, Romeo, Abram, Balthasar, Juliet for the first Jme. Capulet tells Tybalt Anthony, Potpan, Peter, Lucinda, Zita, Marta, not to fight the Montagues. Capulet, Lady Capulet, Juliet Paris, Tybalt, Gregory, Sampson.

7 16-18 Romeo and Juliet meet. Romeo learns she is Romeo, Juliet, Nurse, Benvolio, MercuJo, a Capulet. He decides not to leave the party. Abram, Balthasar.

8 18-22 Juliet learns about Romeo. They speak at the Juliet, Nurse, Romeo. balcony. 9 22-25 MercuJo and Benvolio tease Romeo. Nurse MercuJo, Benvolio, Romeo, Nurse, Peter. makes plans with Romeo.

10 25-26 Romeo and Juliet meet to be married. Friar Lawrence, Romeo, Juliet.

11 27-31 Montagues and Capulets fight. Tybalt and Benvolio, MercuJo, Abram, Balthasar, Tybalt, MercuJo are killed. Romeo flees. Gregory, Sampson, Anthony, Romeo.

12 31-32 Prince banishes Romeo from Verona. Watchmen, Tybalt (dead), Benvolio, Prince, Capulet, Lady Capulet, Montague, Lady Montague.

13 33-34 Nurse tells Juliet of Tybalts death. Nurse, Juliet.

14 34-35 Capulet agrees to a marriage. Capulet, Lady Capulet, Paris. 15 35-37 Romeo and Juliet say goodbye. Romeo, Juliet, Nurse.

16 37-39 Juliet hears she must marry Paris. Lady Capulet, Juliet, Nurse, Capulet.

17 40-41 Friar Lawrence gives Juliet poison. Friar Lawrence, Juliet.

18 41-43 Capulets get ready for the wedding. Juliet Capulet, Anthony, Potpan, Juliet, Lady asks her father for forgiveness. She takes the Capulet. poison.

19 44-45 Balthasar brings bad news to Romeo. Romeo, Balthasar.

20 45-46 Friar John brings bad news to Friar Lawrence Friar Lawrence, Friar John.

21 46-47 Romeo buys poison from the Apothecary Romeo, Apothecary.

22 47-51 Romeo and Juliet kill themselves. The families Romeo, Juliet, Watchmen, Balthasar, Prince, agree to end the fighJng. Capulet, Lady Capulet, Montague Lady Montague, Friar Lawrence,


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LEADING ROLES LARGE ROLES Romeo (M) Benvolio (M)Juliet (F) MercuJo (M) Tybalt (M)MEDIUM ROLES Old Capulet (M) MINOR ROLESLady Capulet (F) Nurse (F) Anthony/CiJzen 1 (M/F)Friar Lawrence (M/F) Potpan/CiJzen 2 (M/F)Lady Montague (F) Friar John/CiJzen 3 (M/F)Old Montague (M) Apothecary/CiJzen 4 (M/F)Balthasar (M/F) Lucinda/Watchman 1 (F)Prince Escalus (M/F) Zita/Watchman 2 (F) Marta/Watchman 3 (F)SMALL ROLESCount Paris (M)Gregory (M/F)Sampson (M/F)Peter (M/F)Abram (M/F)

This version of ROMEO & JULIET is wriQen to be played by 25 students: 7 male roles, 7 female

roles, and 11 roles can be played by either. The minor roles are played two to one actor, and

some can be easily combined or eliminated. Scripts adapted especially for your classroom are

available at www.kidsloveshakespeare.com.


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Type of role is based on the followi

ng factors:

number of lines, number of scenes,


importance to the plot. Each role is

listed in

each category depending on the amo

unt of lines

from greatest to least.


Though not every song listed here is historically accurate, they each accompany the story very well. Some of the lyrics have been tweaked a bit to make the song more age and story

appropriate. You can find all melodies at www.kidsloveshakespeare.com.


Over the mountainsAnd over the waves,

Under the fountains

And under the graves,Under floods that are deepest,

Which Neptune obey Over rocks which are the steepest,

Love will find out the way.

Where there is no place

For the glow-worm to lie,Where there is no space

For receipt of a fly,Where the gnat dares not venture,

Lest herself fast she lay,

But if Love comes, he will enter,And will find out the way..

You may train the eagle

To stoop to your fist.You may train inveigle

The Phoenix of the east.The lioness, you may move her

To give o'er her prey;

But you'll ne'er stop a lover;He will find out his way.


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GREAT TIP!This song can be sung as part of the entertainment during the Capulets party - by either Juliet or by a group of musicians.


Rose, rose, rose redWill I ever see thee wed?

I will marry at my (or thy) will, Sire.

At my (or thy) will.


The weeping willow,Sighing like a solitary soul alone.


Our sad bird,Take thy flight,

Far above the sorrows of this sad night.


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The water is wide, I cannot cross oer,

And neither have, I wings to fly,Give me a boat that can carry two,

And both shall row, my love and I.

There is a ship and she sails the sea,Shes loaded deep, as deep can be,

But not so deep as the love Im in,

I care not if I sink or swim.


Juliet can sing th

is song either sol


or with a group

of ladies in

waiting at the e

nd of SCENE 15.

The first two ver

ses best fit the

plot of Romeo &


GREAT TIP!These are just three parts of a very old and complex English round. These three parts fit the mood and plot of Romeo & Juliet beautifully. Not every group can pull off a three-part harmony-

round, so consider whether one or two parts of this beautiful song might be best for your group of actors. I would recommend using this song as part of the conclusion of the play.


Dont worry, Im not about to suggest you get out the sewing machine and spend hours working on twenty-five costumes. There are so many easy ways to use fabric to

shakespearianize a modern day ounit. About 80% of my students costumes come from

home, or a quick trip to Goodwill. The last 20% comes from the sale or remnant rack at the local fabric store. Below I will walk you through some costumes that Ive used for this parJcular

play. But here are some Jps that are useful across-the-board:

1. Use color to help your audience. If there is a couple that is meant to be together, use the same fabric for their costume. Color can also help to disJnguish different groups or worlds

of characters.

2. Use small hints to disNnguish class and stay consistent. Color can be helpful here, too. But you can also use small accessories to disJnguish class. For example, basic soldiers all wear

leather belts, while aristocrats wear flowing sashes.3. Sashes, belts and safety pins are your friends. The more you use, the less sewing you have

to do. Dont feel guilty about piecing things together. The less sJtches you make, the more

usable the fabric will be for future producJons.4. Invest in a good pair of pinking shears. Pinking shears will help to keep your fabric from

unraveling, and save you from doing much hemming. Keep in mind that jersey fabric (t-shirts!) doesnt unravel.


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- Black turtleneck.

- Black dress pants.

- Long tunic.

- Sash, Jed at side.

- Dress shoes.

-White turtleneck.

- Simple tunic, held in place

with a sash.

- Khaki pants, rolled up.

- Black shoes.

The color of the young mens tunics or sashes can help to

demonstrate their family affiliaJon. Servants should be

easy to disJnguish from the young men. Try using a plain black tunic, with an

appropriately colored sash.



These men must look wealthy. Give them gold

buQons and sash to dress them up. In order to help

your audience disJnguish Capulets from Montegues, dress each family in a different color. For example, Montegues in red and Capulets in blue.


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Friars and the apothecary may all be draped in fabric - to serve as a

type of robe. Friars must wear brown. Try adding a simple rope

as a belt. The apothecary should wear something that makes him look mysterious. Try adding an

interesJng hat or large medallion to his/her costume.

While ciJzens costumes may vary greatly, pick one look, or uniform, for all four watchmen. These

costumes can be simply made with oversized t-shirts, dark jeans or sweat pants, belts or sashes, and boots.


Us color to disJnguish Capulet

from Montegue. Try adding a head piece

or extra jewlery to disJnguish the older women from Juliet.

- White, collard, buQon down shirt.

- Long skirt, with second layer.

- Sash, Jed in a bow in back.- Dress shoes.

-White turtleneck shirt.- Simple tunic.

- Lace collar.- Sash, Jed to the side.

- Black sweats or khakis, rolled up.- Tights.

- Dress shoes.Be sure to conJnue with whichever color

disJncJon you have chosen. All gentlemen

wear collars to separate them from servants and others in

When in mourning, for either Tybalts death or the death of Romeo & Juliet (at the end),

ladies should have a dark shawl to wear on their shoulders or a veil to wear on their head.



NURSEThe Nurse may wear a similar costume to the ladies costume. Try puvng her in

brown or grey with an white apron instead of the second skirt. Ideally, she

would have a small touch of color to mark her as part of the Capulet household- perhaps a sash or a bonnet.



Here are a few simple paQerns to help you create the costumes Ive sketched out. They are very easy to make and require very liQle to no sewing.

(A) Ladys Skirt (B) Short Vest (C) Rough Tunic (D) Simple Tunic

(E) Gentlemans Collar


The Ladys Skirt (A) is made from two pieces of fabric and two bands of wide width elasJc.

For the basic (under) skirt, cut the fabric into the shape and length you desire. It can be

made longer or shorter. If you want a fuller skirt make the boQom width much longer than the top width. Then sJtch the piece of

elasJc to the top. The second layer, (top skirt) is added for Beatrice and Heros characters. If

you would like to make the top skirt puffy, try loosely sJtching two rows along the contours of the top skirt. Do not Je knots at the end.

Instead, leave a bit of thread hanging. When you are done, gently pull the threads so that

the fabric puckers and then Je knots. You can add a liQle tulle under the top skirt for some extra puff.

The Simple Vest (B), Rough Tunic (C), and Simple Tunic (D) are all cut out of one piece of fabric, folded

over the shoulders, and secured with a belt or sash. Each ones length can be adjusted very easily.



For the Gentlemans Collar (E), youll need some thick, symmetrical lace. Gather it Jghtly (like an

accordion) , and run a thick thread through the center, toward the back, a few Jmes. Use hot glue

to aQach the lace to a thick strip of white or cream felt. Dont be afraid to use a lot of the hot glue.

You can even use it between the lace folds on the side that will be hidden

by the felt. You may need to make a few addiJonal small sJtches on the ends to thoroughly aQach the lace to the felt. Add

white or cream ribbon to the end of the felt, just long enough to Je a small bow in back.


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SET SUGGESTIONSMy number one piece of advice when it comes to a set is: dont worry about it too much.

UlJmately it is your actors that your audience will be watching (this is especially true of school

plays!). It is far more important that your actors are confident and ready for opening night than

that your set is beauJful or changes frequently. Please dont invest much Jme in your set. So

much can be done with a couple chairs and a bench.


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If youd like to add a liQle colorful flair, consider purchasing a couple

canvas drop cloths (you can get these just about anywhere paint is

sold). I usually get two 6x9 canvas drop cloths and have small

groups of student paint them while they are not rehearsing on

stage. Tempera paint works just fine. The painted canvas will dry

fairly sJff and can be stretched and stapled to a wall. They can also

be hung from a very taught rope.

If you have a handy parent or spouse who is ready to

help, it is fairly easy to build two large wooden frames

to stretch and staple the canvas over. SomeJmes a

local lumber yard will donate the lumber. Ive used a

few sandbags behind the frames to make them as

sturdy as possible. Best case scenario; the canvas

stands away from the back wall and will give your

actors more places to hide and to enter from.

STAGING SUGGESTIONSStaging a play can be one of the most inJmidaJng parts of producing a play with young

students. Many teachers revert to having their actors stand in straight lines in the center of the

stage because it is owen the easiest posiJon for young actors to find and remember. Id like to

encourage you to break that paQern, if it is one you find yourself falling into. Ive listed a few

suggesJons below. Even if you pick just one to try, it will help your producJon rise above the

average school play.

1. Play with the depth of the stage. Teach your students about stage right and stage lew

(remember, it is always from the actors perspecJve), and upstage (away from the audience)

and downstage (closer to the audience). The more entrances and exits you create the more

interesJng your performance space will become. You dont need a real stage with front,

center, and back wings to make this happen. Try deciding upon all the possible entrances and

exits as a cast.

2. Play with height. Have students stand on chairs, or lay on the ground. Crouching and

kneeling is good too. The key to playing with height is providing a variety in every scene. Do

your best to have every actor in the scene on a different verJcal plane.


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EXAMPLE:Here the actor is entering from up stage lew, performing down stage, and then exiJng down stage right. The doQed lines representsight lines. I owen tape these to remind young actors to stay behind them. I emphasize howimportant it is that the audience focuses on what is happening on stage (and not distracted by those of us back stage.

3. Remember: movement can create space. If you have a group of actors entering the stage,

try having them ramble around the stage before finding their spot. This will help them to

look like they are traveling a farther distance. BeQer yet, have other actors (as trees for

example) move around them while the group marches in place. Traveling in curves and

circles, using the full depth of the stage, will add significant amount of variety and interest to

your staging. SomeJmes young actor are hesitant to move in these ways, because they are

afraid to turn their backs to the audience. I encourage my students, by telling them that

some Jmes the movement of their body can be just as (if not more) interesJng than their

face. As long as they are not delivering a line, it is okay to turn their back to the audience for

a short Jme.

4. Dont be afraid to use tape. I owen make 8-12 tape marks on the stage for each producJon I

stage. Tape is an excellent way to help young actors remember where to stand in space. I

someJmes even mark the tape, using a dark permanent marker, with the iniJal of the

character who is to stand there. Then the other actors can posiJon themselves around the

key actor. Tape also works well to help actors remember where to place a piece of furniture

during a scene change. It enables students to do the scene changes themselves, which is

fantasJc! Blue painters tape works well for me.


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EXAMPLE:Here the supporJng actors are entering in a line down stage right. The main actor is enter up stage lew. The supporJng actors circle around the main actor. The scene is performed. Then the supporJng actors exit down stage lew and the main actor follows.Stage Right Stage Lew

TO A TEACHER, from a teacher...Being a lover a language, I was very disappointed to discover a lack of quality Shakespeare

adaptaJons available for children. The scripts I encountered were simplified to the bare bones of plot, without maintaining any sense of the heightened language or wordplay that make

Shakespeares plays great. In my adaptaJons, I strive to make the stories accessible to young actors without sacrificing the magic.

While working with my students, Ive happily (and somewhat surprisingly) discovered that it is the quality of language they fall in love with, just as much as the story. Whether its Dogberrys

puns or Pucks fairy song, theyre hooked! The language is the very thing that makes the play memorable. What a wonderful experience to have as a young learner - before the inJmidaJon

of Shakespeare sets in.

I hope you too will discover that kids CAN and DO love Shakespeare - when it is introduced in a

fun, accessible way.

a production note...A chain is only as strong as its weakest link - this is the angle I take with my student while working on a play. I conJnually stress the importance of every character, of every team

member, and every storyteller - regardless of the number of lines. For this reason, I name each

and everyone of my characters and not one is line-less. I also incorporate the students with smaller parts in other ways: They are put in charge of set design, or drawing the curtain at the

beginning of the show (its amazing how coveted that job is!). Most importantly, at the end of the show, everyone bows together as a team.

When it comes to the actual producJon process, my biggest piece of advice is: give you and

your students plenty of Jme. It is amazing what kids can achieve when Jme is coupled with

high expectaJons. Theyll rise to any challenge.

Last but not least, I want to say thank you for taking on such a project. Puvng on a play is one of the most difficult things to do - considering the pressures and challenges we face as

teachers. The arts - especially the performing arts - owen get pushed to the side. Thank you for

making the Jme and taking on the challenge. I promise the experience will be a highlight of your students educaJonal journeys, and a precious giw you all can share.

Break a leg!


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