This simple activity gives higher-level students the chance to write and act in their own version of Romeo and Juliet.
Divide students into groups of about three. It is not necessary to have all male or all female groups but you could consider it. Give half the class Card 1 and the other half the class Card 2:
You are 15. You know a very beautiful girl called Juliet and you would like to marry her. You have decided to go and talk to her. Prepare what you are going to say to make a good impression and let her know how you feel. You are rich and handsome and know that you are a good catch.
You are 15. You’ve heard from your friends that a boy called Paris would like to marry you. He’s very rich and handsome but not really your type and you don’t love him. What are you going to say when he comes to speak to you?
- Regroup the class so that everyone is in a pair of Paris and Juliets. The two act out their conversation.
- Return students to their places. Give some feedback.
- Ask them if they know which famous play starts in this way. Give them the first part of Romeo and Juliet to read through (see Part 1 below). Follow with Parts 2 and 3, helping with any difficult vocabulary.
- Now split students into 3 groups and tell them they are going to act out part of the play of Romeo and Juliet. You could tell them about the Reduced Shakespeare company where, if they don’t have the right number of people, they find another way. For example, one person may take on several small roles or a puppet or other inanimate object may become a character.
- Give students a set amount of time to work on a rough script (15 mins) and then to practise (15 mins.). They must write out the dialogue (in modern English).
Romeo Montague is in love with Rosaline. He goes to a party and meets Juliet, and immediately falls in love with her instead. (She is supposed to marry Paris). He later finds out that she is a Capulet, the rival family of the Montagues. They agree to get married the next day. Friar Lawrence agrees to marry them in an effort to end the fighting between the families.
However, the fighting between the rival families gets worse and Mercutio (Montague), a good friend of Romeo's, fights Tybalt (Capulet), Juliet's cousin. Tybalt kills Mercutio, so Romeo kills Tybalt. As a punishment, Romeo is banished from Verona. The Capulets are planning Juliet's marriage to Paris. Juliet does not want to marry this man so she arranges with Friar Lawrence to pretend to die with a sleeping pill. Friar Lawrence promises to tell Romeo the plan
Unfortunately, Romeo does not receive the message in time and goes to Juliet's tomb where, thinking she is really dead, he drinks poison and dies. When Juliet wakes up, she finds her lover's dead body beside her. She then proceeds to stab herself with Romeo's dagger. The two families find the two dead bodies and decide to live peacefully.
- The 3 groups of students put on their play at the end of the class. Before they do, let them know that their next task will be to write a synopsis of the play (either in class or at home depending on the time available. This activity will give students a good reason to watch and listen carefully when the other groups perform.
- As a round up ask students from other groups to say in their own words what happened in each part of the performance.
By Stuart Wiffin and Helen Gibbons
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