Directing Juliet's Long Soliloquy Essay

Directing Juliet's Long Soliloquy Essay

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How would you direct Juliet's long soliloquy in Act 4 Scene 3 on a
Shakespearean stage, conveying Juliet's nightmarish terror and
indecisiveness?

My staging of Act 4 Scene 3 will emphasise the major themes which are
continued in the play as a whole; love, fate and violence. Both Romeo
and Juliet are sometimes portrayed as 'pawns of fate' unable to escape
their destiny, yet in this scene as I wish to stage it, I want to show
that Juliet, following the Friar's plan, takes a step towards changing
that destiny. She does this out of love for Romeo and to escape the
despair brought on by what she thinks will be a loveless marriage to
Paris. Juliet is in the grip of very strong emotions and in this scene
her morbid fantasies about tombs and spectres take a violent turn,
showing the violence of her feelings and state of mind.

It seems strange that most modern productions omit this scene, giving
only the first and last lines. The last line too is given in various
versions. Do the directors think that this "death bed soliloquy" - for
that is what it turns out to be - from the heroine, is too wordy and
that modern audiences cannot interpret the violent images she talks
about without the images themselves before their eyes? Or do they
think that such violent emotions are uncharacteristic of Juliet and
are out of place?

In my production I intend to combine the powerful words of the
distraught Juliet with the inclusion of visual images to produce
maximum impact. In order to help the Shakespearean audience visualise
Juliet's words, I will place actors as ghosts and spectres acting out
her fantasies in the gallery as she speaks the lines.

On a Shakespearean stage the scenery was minimal, as were the props,
so the contemporary audience relied on the words, clothing and the
actor a lot more than we would normally do now. As the director, I
would ask the young actor playing Juliet to be wearing a yellow
aristocratic night gown of the era. This would indicate to the
audience that in the play it is currently night time and that Juliet
is in her chambers (because a respectable girl would not be outside in
her night clothes). The Shakespearean audience was very superstitious,
so Juliet wearing a night gown that is yellow would also portray to
them ideas of optimism. Also, along the ideas of superstition, I would
want the vial to be red, ...


... middle of paper ...


...loor of the gallery, where he has been waiting. Tybalt should look
extremely menacing and threatening towards the crowd. As soon as
Juliet says "O look!" I want the actor playing Romeo to appear on the
gallery, next to Tybalt. While Juliet is speaking the next lines they
should fight with rapiers. At the precise moment that Juliet says the
second "stay!", I want Tybalt to stab Romeo, and then for all the
actors on the upper stage to collapse to floor so they are not seen.

I believe that in the staging of this scene, with actors acting out
Juliet's fantasies as she says them, I have exploited the full
potential of the Elizabethan stage. Since their access to props and
lighting was limited, words had to convey the idea of action, but by
combining verbal and visual I wanted to maximise the impact of the
words. Juliet's highly emotional state is shown by her restless
movements over the stage and her imaginings are portrayed in the
gallery above. The violence shown throughout the play is mirrored here
in Juliet's words. Her love for Romeo is the cause of the scene but
the audience knows that in the end it is all futile since Juliet and
Romeo are "star-crossed lovers".

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