How Act 2, Scene 1 Of Romeo And Juliet May Have Been Staged

2703 words - 11 pages

Open in London in 1599, William Shakespeare’s Globe theatre grew to be recognized as the most popular playhouse in the region and home to some of the greatest players in England. The King’s Men, previously the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, were a playing company for whom Shakespeare was a member of for most of his career. They frequently performed in the Globe and staged many of Shakespeare’s works. Nevertheless, the lack of stagecraft information provided from these XVI century texts has made it hard to interpret how Shakespeare originally intended his plays to be performed in the Globe. In particular, the famous tragedy of Romeo and Juliet suggests that there are many alternative staging options for each scene. However, from a close reading of the play-text as a manual for performance, it is possible to describe how the play may have been staged, specifically in Act 2, Scene 1, by analysing elements such as the acting measures, the costume design and the stage setting.
To commence, in the Elizabethan and Jacobean period, there were many important rules in regards to acting that players had to consider when performing in the Globe theatre. When Shakespeare wrote his plays, he included as many female characters as he did male characters. Nonetheless, the traditions and values of the Renaissance did not allow women to act or become actors, due to the fact that it was considered immoral for a woman to be on stage. At the time, they had no social status other than their association with their husbands or fathers. Moreover, actors were considered to have a low social status, thus it was considered improper and socially unacceptable for a woman to become a performer. Instead of editing all of Shakespeare’s texts to adhere to the rules of society, female roles were played by boys or young men. Using boys as an alternative for the representation of women proved to be very useful on stage. Since their voices had not yet reached puberty, they were similar to the feminine voices of girls. Likewise, their young age also helped emphasize certain features that would normally be associated with women, such as a fair and smooth complexion. For instance, in Act 1, Scene 3, Lady Capulet mentions her daughter is only thirteen (Lines 13-16) and in Act 2, Scene 1, Romeo refers to Juliet as a fair maid (Line 104). Consequently, it is possible to infer that the role of Juliet in the Globe theatre was most likely played by a young boy possessing certain traits that emphasized the youth and fairness of Juliet’s character.
Additionally, Shakespeare’s texts do not provide much information about the characteristics of acting he wanted established within his plays. Therefore, in order to fully understand how the acting would have been executed for each performance at the Globe, one must look at the evidence provided from previous play-texts in order to reveal Shakespeare’s initial attitudes towards acting. For instance, in Act 3, Scene 2 of Hamlet, the...

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