Romeo and Juliet Activities: Context (KS3)

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Here you can find resources designed around the 2019 Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank production of Romeo and Juliet. Created for young people, students are able to follow along with the production online on the Globe's dedicated Romeo and Juliet microsite.

If students are new to the play, we suggest you start with these introductory Key Stage 3 Lesson Plans. If you would like to teach the play in greater detail, we recommend you use the advanced activities which can be found in the Key Stage 4 or Key Stage 5 areas.

We will be updating this section week by week, so be sure to check back for more activities soon. 

Have students read through the article on the website.

Explain that students are going to work in pairs to create a Venn diagram to illustrate the relationships between the two texts:

  • In the left-hand circle: characters, character-information, plots and timelines that only Brooke has
  • In the overlap: things that both texts have in common
  • In the right-hand circle: things that Shakespeare changes from or adds to the original

After completing this activity, think-pair-share the following questions:

  • Which opening do you prefer, and why?
  • Why do you think Shakespeare made the changes he did?
  • What is the effect, as an audience/reader, of one versus the other?

In their pairs, ask students: Can you think of any other examples (e.g. of films) where someone has updated an existing story but made changes? Why do you think the changes were made? How have these affected the meaning?

Find and read the article on the website entitled, ‘Violent Delights and Violent Ends’. The writer states, ‘There are Romeos and Juliets in every community and country across the world.’ Work in pairs to create a poster collage showing any films and books that might have been inspired by Romeo and Juliet. Around this, see if you can find any news stories that have links with Romeo and Juliet, using the opening paragraph of the article to help you think about search terms that might help with this.

As you complete this task, discuss why you think the story of Romeo and Juliet is such a powerful one that seems to cut across time, countries and communities. Share all the collages - you might want to keep them up in the classroom as you study the play, to remind you of the impact this play has had on our culture.

The article highlights ‘William Shakespeare’s influence as a figure in world literary heritage’. Using the poster collage to help you, create a class definition of the phrase ‘literary heritage’. Now that you have this, individually, write a list of the top ten texts (or writers) that you think should have a place in world literary heritage. Compare your list with a neighbour: did you have any in common? What influenced your decision-making?

The article mentions the difference in beliefs between now and the 1590s about romance, emotions, sexuality, parenting, youth culture and the sorts of behaviour appropriate to men and women. In pairs, pick one of these topics to research. Create a comparison chart to summarise your findings. Once complete, you should find two pairs who have worked on different topics, team up into a group of six and have each pair teach the others about their topic. Once each pair has shared, consider the question from the article: given what you know about the different beliefs, ‘do we respond to these themes in the same way as audience members four hundred years ago?’

The article explains that modern audiences ‘might not immediately register’ the difference between Romeo’s feelings for Juliet and Rosaline, that Shakespeare signals through Romeo’s language. Read this section of the article again: how does Shakespeare signal that Romeo and Juliet’s love is ‘very different’ to the love Romeo feels for Rosaline? If you were directing this production of Romeo and Juliet, how would you signal to an audience of modern 11-18 year olds that Romeo and Juliet’s love is different?

Find and listen to the interview with Jeff Alexander, who plays Lord Montague in the production.

Near the beginning of the interview, Jeff says that the first time he heard about Shakespeare’s Globe was before it was even built. Listen out for the name of the person who wanted to build the Globe. In pairs, find out more about this person: What was their background? Why did they want to build Shakespeare’s Globe? How long did building it take? Use the resources on the Globe website to help you with this.

Later in the interview, Jeff discusses his first experience of being in front of an audience. What was he doing? Listen to his description of this, and discuss the similarities of performing in this context with performing at the Globe.

Jeff highlights the difference between playing Mercutio in a previous production and Lord Montague in this production. In particular, Jeff references the different attitudes to fighting/the feud between the young and the old within the play. Explore this in more detail. In groups, create a chart with two columns, and give them the headings that Jeff uses: ‘Oh no, here we go again!’ (old) and ‘Oh come on!’ (young). Find quotations from the old and the young characters that show their attitudes to fighting, and write them into the correct column. Do they match the headings, and therefore Jeff’s ideas about each generation’s attitudes? Share your ideas as a class. To what extent do each generation’s attitudes towards fighting/violence echo what you see/hear in the media?

Consider the following quotation about teenagers: ‘Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households.’ Place this in the centre of a large sheet of paper, and answer the following questions around it: How does this link to what Jeff mentions in his podcast about Mercutio? How does this reflect current representations of teenagers? Find examples from the media. When do you think this quotation was written, and why? Use the Internet to find out who said this and when, and make a note of your reaction to this.


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