Romeo and Juliet Activities: Themes (KS4)

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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. 

Find and watch the interview with director Michael Oakley in which he discusses how time affects the story of Romeo and Juliet.

Michael speaks about how quickly the events of the play unfold. To help visualise this, create a timeline of the play: start with Sunday and run through to Thursday, breaking each day up into morning, afternoon, evening and night. Mark the key events of the play into each timeslot. Work in groups of five, with each person taking responsibility for mapping out the events of one Act.

Notice how Michael Oakley describes the way that the Friar and Lord Capulet both advise younger characters to slow down, yet make decisions that ultimately speed the action towards the deaths of the young lovers. Read Act I, scene 2 up to Capulet’s exit and notice how he speaks to Paris about his ‘suit’. Now compare his treatment of Paris to the way that the Friar speaks towards Romeo in Act II, scene 3. Create a comparison of the ways the two older men advise the younger men; this could be a written paragraph, or a poster that pulls out and illustrates key words and phrases.

Split into two groups within the class: one to focus on Act I, scene 2, and the other on Act II, scene 3. Within each group, work in pairs with each partner assigned one character from the scene: Capulet or Paris; Friar or Romeo. Capulets and Friars are only allowed to say the word ‘No’, whereas Parises and Romeos are only allowed to say the word ‘Yes’. Have a thirty second conversation in your pairs with these two words, experimenting with different tones to ‘win’ the conversation. Now, identify one line spoken by your character in the scene that you feel captures their approach to time at this point. In pairs, have a conversation using only these lines, again experimenting with tones. Have two pairs (one from each scene) share their ‘conversations’.

The half of the class working on Capulet should now compare their scene to Capulet’s behaviour in Act III, scene 4. Locate this scene on the timeline. Look at Capulet’s lines, only from ‘Sir Paris, I will make a desperate tender’ to the end of the scene. One person within each pair should read Capulet’s speech aloud to their partner; the partner should mime action suggested by the language. Switch roles, and speed up the reading. Keep switching and speeding up.

The half of the class working on the Friar’s scene should compare this scene to his behaviour in Act IV, scene 1. Locate this on the timeline also. Focus on the Friar’s advice to Juliet, from ‘Hold then. Go home, be merry, give consent’ to ‘And this shall free thee from this present shame’. Again, one person should read the Friar aloud, with their partner miming the actions, before switching and speeding up.

Have two pairs (one from each half/scene) share their mimed speeches. As a class, discuss the change in the Friar and Capulet’s approach to time between the two scenes they have collectively looked at. How does this link to Michael’s comments on time?

Find and watch the interview with director Michael Oakley in which he discusses whether Romeo and Juliet is a love story.

Michael speaks about how Shakespeare would never ‘just’ do a love story, and how he therefore views the play through the prisms of love and hate.

Divide the class in half. Ask one half to create a freeze-frame that represents love within Romeo and Juliet. Ask the other to create one that represents hate within the play.

-Give both groups a short amount of time to come up with their poses.
-Then ask each group to show the other group their work. Ask questions of the group who are observing to tease out the similarities and differences between their portrayals. For example, you could ask each observing group to work in pairs as they look, and complete the following sentences in relation to the other group’s freeze-frame: I see... I notice... I wonder... (focusing it on similarities and differences to their own freeze-frame).
-Switch the group who is showing and repeat the questions.
-Based on this, ask students to reflect: How closely linked are love and hate within the play?

Michael questions whether the play is romantic; explore this further with students.

-List all the connotations of the word ‘romantic’. Circle the ones that are also referenced in Romeo and Juliet. How many are there? Would you call this a romantic play?
-Rather than ‘romantic’, Michael says that he would rather call it, ‘Shakespeare’s visceral passion story’. Why might Michael have chosen this phrase?What would you call it?
-Michael makes the distinction between it being a romantic play, and a play that has actions that have elements of romance within them. In pairs, create a list of these actions within the play. Once you have this, rank these actions with the most romantic one being placed at the top. Compare across the class: were there similar actions ranked as top? Why did you pick this action as the most romantic – what defines an action as ‘romantic’?
- ‘Love’, ‘romance’ and ‘romantic’ and terms that have carried very different meanings over the centuries. Work with fellow students to research how notions of what constitutes ‘ideal love’ and ‘romance’ have changed over the centuries, and across cultures.
- Create a large timeline to capture this on, highlighting the changes in how these have been understood.
- What, if any, aspects of Romeo and Juliet’s love are still considered ideal in the modern world? Will Romeo and Juliet always remain relevant in discussions of ideal love and/or romance?


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