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Aquila Theatre’s

Romeo and Juliet

A Study Guide to Aquila Theatre’s Production


of the Play, written by William Shakespeare
2015-16
Synopsis
Prologue: The people of Verona feud with each other and are stopped by a decree from the
Prince.

Act I:
Mercutio listens to his lovesick friend Romeo pine after Rosaline. Lady Capulet and Paris discuss
whether Juliet, Lady Capulet’s daughter, is old enough to be married. Lady Capulet then invites
Paris to a Ball so that he may court Juliet. Romeo and Mercutio find an invitation to the very
same Ball, which is being hosted by the Capulets, enemies of Romeo’s family. Mercutio decides
they should crash the party so that Romeo can meet other females, and convinces a reluctant
Romeo to attend. Juliet’s mother offers Paris as a match to her daughter and a hesitant Juliet
agrees to follow her mother’s wishes. Upon arrival at the ball, Romeo and Juliet immediately fall
in love, throwing a wrench in Lady Capulet and Paris’ plans. Tybalt, discovering that Romeo has
crashed the party, wants to kill him, but Lady Capulet stops Tybalt for the sake of the Ball.
Romeo and Mercutio make their exit before trouble sets in. While Mercutio searches for his
friend Romeo, Romeo and Juliet secretly meet at her balcony. They agree to set aside their
family names for their love and be married quickly. Romeo asks Friar Lawrence to perform the
ceremony and he agrees to help in hopes that it might end the feud between the two families.
Romeo tells Mercutio that he is in love, but not with Rosaline. Romeo meets with the Nurse to
ask her to send Juliet to him the following day, and the Nurse returns to Juliet and reluctantly
tells her of Romeo’s plan for their marriage. The following morning, Romeo and Juliet meet with
Friar Laurence and set off to be married. Mercutio and Tybalt fight in the streets. Romeo
attempts to intervene, but Mercutio is slain. Romeo then attacks and kills Tybalt.

Act II:
Juliet is preparing to meet with Romeo when the Nurse tells her that Tybalt is dead and Romeo
banished as punishment. Deeply upset, Juliet passes her ring to the Nurse, and asks her to
deliver it along with a message to Romeo, asking him to meet before he leaves. The Nurse
speaks with Romeo and passes him Juliet’s ring and message. Paris attempts to visit Juliet, but
she won’t come out of her bedchamber. In Juliet’s absence, Lady Capulet settles that Paris and
Juliet will be married in a few days’ time. Lady Capulet informs Juliet that she will be married to
Paris and Juliet refuses. Enraged, Lady Capulet tells Juliet to wed Paris or never come home
again. Juliet decides to visit Friar Laurence for confession and absolution. Meanwhile, Paris visits
Friar Laurence to discuss his upcoming wedding to Juliet. When Juliet arrives at the Friar’s, their
paths cross and Paris confronts her. After Paris leaves, she begs the Friar to stop her wedding
with Paris. Friar Laurence gives her a very strong sleep potion and tells her to drink it later when
she’s alone. Juliet returns home and apologizes to Lady Capulet and bids her tell Paris that she is
happy to be wed. Juliet then retires to her room to sleep, where she takes the Friar’s potion and
falls onto her bed. Early the following morning, the Nurse goes to fetch Juliet but finds what she
presumes to be Juliet’s corpse. Lady Capulet is called up to behold the dead body of her
daughter and Paris arrives to the scene and discovers his marriage is not to be. Romeo, banished
and in Mantua, learns that Juliet is dead and vows to return so that he may see her again. He
buys a potent poison from the Apothecary before leaving for Verona and for his beloved Juliet.
Later, Paris sneaks into the Capulet’s monument so he can see Juliet’s body. Rome discovers
Paris in the monument. They fight and Paris is killed. Romeo reunites with the deeply slumbering
Juliet. Presuming that she is dead, he drinks his poison so he may die alongside his beloved.
Juliet wakes from her sleep. Friar Laurence, running in, bids her run away with him so she may
escape arrest for Romeo and Paris’ deaths. Juliet sends Friar Laurence away and stabs herself
with a dagger, dying alongside Romeo. Lady Capulet finds Paris, Romeo and Juliet dead. She
sits and embraces Romeo and Juliet together.

Cast of Characters
Ju liet – A thirteen year old girl. Daughter of Lady
Capulet and member of the Capulet family. Her
closest confidante is the Nurse.
Pa ris – A kinsman of the Prince and Lady
Capulet’s preferred suitor for Juliet.
Nu rse – Juliet’s nurse and caregiver, and the
woman who nursed Juliet from the time she was
an infant.
Tybalt - A Capulet and Lady Capulet’s brother.
He loathes Montagues and longs for a fight.
Ro meo – The teenaged son and heir of Montague
and Lady Montague. He lives in the middle of the
violence between the Capulet and Montague
family but has no interest in participating. He is
emotional and is deeply in love with Rosaline
when we first meet him. He is a close friend of
Mercutio and is also close to Friar Lawrence.
Mer cu tio - A kinsman to the Prince and close
friend of Romeo’s.
Fria r La wr enc e – A Franciscan Friar. Friend and
confidante to Romeo and Juliet, as well as to Lady
Capulet. He is a holy man, and also an expert in
using herbs for medicinal purposes.
Shakespearean
VOCABULARY Insults and Curses

See if you can find these curses and insults from The Tempest:
The devil take your fingers.
A plague upon this howling!
A pox on your throat.
You bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog.
Thou liest like a dog.
The liest thou jesting monkey.
Thou art a shallow monster.
Filth as thou art.
Thy breath is like a rotten lung.
Thou art nothing better than a disease.
May the south-west wind blister you.
Tonight thou shall have cramps and side-stitches.

ABHOR –
STOP AND THINK:
Take%a%moment%to%list%all%of%the%Shakespeare%plays%you%have%read,%
seen%or%even%heard%of.%%If%you%wanted%to%group%these%plays,%how%
would%you%do%it?%%By%story?%%By%time%period?%%Are%they%happy%or%
sad?%%Do%terrible%things%happen?%%Are%they%about%famous%people?%
Think%about%plays%you%know%well.%%Try%to%group%them%in%ways%that%
make%sense%to%you.%%%

S HAKESPEARE ’ S G ENRES
All#of#Shakespeare’s#plays#can#be#organized#into#genres:#Tragedies,#Comedies#and#Histories.##
Each#of#these#genres#has#specific#characteristics.#
Tragedies:##Tragedies#have#serious#themes.##They#typically#feature#a#hero#with#a#fatal#
flaw.#The#hero#often#has#high#social#status,#for#example,#a#nobleman.##Deaths#occur.##
Famous#Tragedies:#Macbeth,#Hamlet#and#Juliet.Ceasar.#
Comedies:##Shakespeare’s#comedies#often#have#funny#language,#outrageous#plot#twists,#
and#mistaken#identities.#Romance#is#often#featured,#but#with#some#kind#of#obstacle#that#
needs#to#be#overcome.##Sex#roles#may#be#reversed#in#cases#of#mistaken#identities.##They#
often#end#with#some#kind#of#wedding#or#reunion.##Famous#Comedies:#Twelfth.Night,.As.
You.Like.It,#Merchant.of.Venice.#
Histories:#Feature#real#historical#figures#and#relate#to#the#current#events#of#
Shakespeare’s#time.##Famous#Histories:#Henry.V,#Richard.III.#
In#looking#back#at#your#groupings#and#thinking#about#these#genres,#did#your#groupings#
match?##If#so,#how,#and#if#not,#how#were#they#different?##Think#about#the#story#of#Romeo.and.
Juliet.##What#genre#does#it#belong#in?#Comedy#or#Tragedy?##While#it#does#have#a#wedding,#and#
a#romance#with#an#obstacle#as#well#as#funny#word#play,#in#the#middle#of#the#action#the#play#
takes#a#very#dark#turn.##That#change#in#genre,#or#play#on#our#expectations,#marks#the#play#as#
a#Tragedy#and,#in#fact,#amplifies#the#tragic#nature#of#the#story#for#theatregoers.###
#

A%crossAdressing%Viola%in%the%film,%
Shakespeare)in)Love)(Miramax,%1998)%
S
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
1) What is the definition of “star crossed
lovers”? Why are Romeo and Juliet
“star crossed lovers”? Brainstorm a list
of other stories involving “star crossed
lovers” including stories from other
books, movies, plays, anime, manga
and graphic novels. How do these
stories resolve? How similar are they
to Shakespeare’s “Romeo an Juliet”?
2) Different characters have their own
moral compass. Lay out the position
for each of the following characters:
Romeo, Juliet, Lady Capulet, The Friar,
Mercutio and Tybalt. Who is the most
moral person in the story and why?
Think about Lady Capulet and the
Friar. Do you think that these two
characters have special responsibilities
to the young people in their charge? What kind of job
do you think they do in advising and guiding Juliet and Follow up Activities
Romeo?
3) Various cultures have used arranged marriages over 1) Set up a mock talk show where the
the course of history. What were the rules for marriage Montagues and the Capulets come to tell
during the 14th Century? Do you think that the their story. Write a script in which they
marriage of Juliet to Paris counts as an arranged each plead tell their story and possibly
marriage? Why do you think Juliet’s parents would argue. Would there be any reconciliation.
have wanted to see her married to someone like Paris? If so, who would reconcile with whom?
4) What is the purpose of the Prologue? How does it
impact the experience of the reader/theatregoer? 2) Create a list of characteristics you think
5) Does fate play a role in bringing Romeo and Juliet you would like to see in your ideal mate.
together? Look back at the beginning of the play and Now, try to step into your parents’ shoes.
see what references to fate you can find. Create a similar list for your ideal mate, but
from your parents’ perspectives. How do
the lists differ?
3) Break into groups. Write your own
alternative ending to Romeo and Juliet,
beginning with the moment when Romeo
enters the tomb. Perform them for the
class.
4) Social media for Romeo & Juliet. Write a
twitter campaign for the Montagues and
the Capulets. Create Facebook pages with
posts which follow the storyline for Romeo
and Juliet.
&% %
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About &
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Aquila has performed in over 47 states,


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& including off-Broadway in New York City
& and at international festivals.
&
The Aquila The atre Com pany w as foun de d THE%WHITE%HOUSE%
in L ond on in 1991 b y Pete r M eineck a nd THE%SUPREME%COURT%
ha s b een ba se d in N ew York City since FOLGER%SHAKESPEARE%LIBRARY,%WASHINGTON%DC%
19 99. Aq uila p rese nts a reg ula r se as on of LA%JOLLA%PLAYHOUSE%
p lays in Ne w York, at in terna tional festivals SHAKESPEARE%FESTIVAL/LA%
and tours to approximately seventy American BROOKLYN%ACADEMY%OF%MUSIC%
towns and cities a year. The name “Aquila” NYU%SKIRBALL%CENTER%
means “eagle” in Latin. LUCILLE%LORTEL%THEATRE%
BARUCH%PERFORMING%ARTS%CENTER%
Aquila ha s a very particula r m ission to
NEW%VICTORY%THEATER%
m ake cla ssica l thea tre a cce ssible an d
EAST%13TH%STREET%THEATRE%
releva nt to everyone . Peter Mein eck
CLURMAN%THEATRE,%THEATRE%ROW%
m an ages to m odern iz e pla ys w hile ke epin g
45%BLEECKER%
true to the sp irit of the orig ina l text.
MANHATTAN%ENSEMBLE%THEATRE%
Encoun ters with works of a rt ca n ch ange CLARK%STUDIO%THEATRE%AT%LINCOLN%CENTER%
p eop le, ca using them to view the a rtwork SHAKESPEARE%FESTIVAL%IN%GLOBE%NEUSS,%GERMANY%
a nd the w orld in a n ew w a y. In a dd ition, EDINBURGH%FESTIVAL,%UK%
a rtw orks d o n ot imm e dia tely revea l all tha t FESTIVAL%OF%THE%AEGEAN,%GREECE%
is there to b e s een . Perception of artworks THE%BERMUDA%FESTIVAL%
can be compared to peeling the layers of an SHAKESPEARE%FESTIVAL,%GYULA,%HUNGARY%
onion – they can be seen on many levels and SHAKESPEARE%FESTIVAL%IN%GDANSK,%POLAND&
from many perspectives.
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