Act III, Scene 5: Evaluating the director's choices
Lesson 10 of 12
Objective: SWBAT compare their independent reading of a scene to the director's "take" in a film version of that scene.
At this point in the year, I am using daily Caught Ya's to reinforce grammar and conventions. The students go up to the SmartBoard and make corrections, and then we discuss their choices. This is a very quick activity, and this particular Caught Ya follows a story line that is based on Romeo and Juliet.
Reading Act III, Sc 5
This scene opens with Romeo stealing away in the early morning hours. Then, Juliet's mother enters to give her the news that her father has consented to her marriage to Paris.
The critical part of this scene is the confrontation between Juliet and her father. In the play, her father basically tells her that she will marry Paris or she will be thrown out. His words are harsh, and Juliet's desperation builds.
As usual, I assign parts to students and we read the play aloud. As I mentioned before, I use the "Shakespeare Made Easy" text for Romeo and Juliet, so there are "training wheels" in the form of regular English translations on the opposite page. It's probably obvious, but it's important to make sure that you have very strong readers take parts for this section. The father speaks in very abstract and poetic terms, and he must be read with force. The exchange should be fast (or at least as fast as your students can handle it.)
YouTube is a great tool for examining different versions of Shakespeare's plays. Everything is on there -- from the lowest budget community theatre production to a shiny, Hollywood rendition.
Before I show them the scene in the Luhrmann film, I show them a few minutes of some other versions, such as this one:
This helps to reinforce the universal nature of Shakespeare's works, and it also reminds the students that Shakespeare wrote no stage directions (outside of the dialogue) and indicated no costume choices (outside of weapons or items mentioned explicitly. So, there is much room for interpretation.
After we watch clips, I show them the scene in the Luhrmann version.
Now, after checking out a couple of versions of this scene, I ask students to evaluate it.
The question was: Compare Luhrmann's interpretation of Act III, Scene 5 to your own reading of the play. Were his choices consistent with your own interpretation, based on the text? Did he make any surprising choices? How did those choices influence the audience viewing the film?
The students came up with some interesting responses. Most focused on the violence in the film, which is definitely a defining characteristic of the movie's approach.