Session Three: Week 12


After a longer-than-anticipated hiatus due to our lovely Michigan weather, the group reconvened today eager to get to the next phase of the process. The consensus was that, while they enjoy reading through a scene and then putting it on its feet, they have a pretty good handle on the language now and want to just read the rest of the play, only staging things they don’t understand (if anything), and then cast it and begin working toward their performance.

So we read through the remainder of the play, up until the final scene, which is lengthy. Below are some notes I took from our brief discussions of these scenes, all of which were straightforward enough that no one felt the need to put them on their feet at this point.

Act III, Scene iii

  • One woman said she “loves this scene,” and most of the others agreed. They feel that it is a clear and dramatic turning point for all of the characters in it.

Act III, Scene iv

  • Capulet seems to live in his own world, doing whatever he wants. This is exemplified by his desire to hasten the wedding of Juliet and Paris, despite the family’s grief over the loss of Tybalt.

Act III, Scene v

  • As we read this scene aloud, there were repeated vocal reactions to Capulet’s abusive language. The things he says to Juliet especially, but also to his wife and the Nurse, are crystal clear even hundreds of years later. No need for interpretation here.
  • The women discussed that Capulet goes from zero to sixty in his rage.
  • There was also a discussion about Juliet’s situation – she is a cloistered, naïve teenager, so how can we understand her actions in that context as she’s abandoned by all three of her “parental units” within minutes?

Act IV, Scene i

  • Why does the Friar choose such a complicated plan? Why not just take Juliet to Mantua? Or send a message to Romeo immediately telling him what’s going on? Why all the secrecy and plotting?
  • Why doesn’t Juliet just leave? The women believe that, beyond her being sheltered and inexperienced, Capulet is very powerful and has eyes everywhere, like a modern day Mafia boss.

Act IV, Scenes ii and iii

  • The grief of the characters is very obvious here, but the women were confused about the extent to which people who show little care for Juliet previously would be grieving now. This is definitely going to merit further exploration once we’re cast, since there are some clues in the text, but many of the women aren’t buying that the Capulets actually love their daughter.
  • One woman pointed out that the Friar downplays the tragedy and seems to rush everyone to bury Juliet as quickly as possible to keep his plan in motion.

Act V, Scene i

  • We discussed Romeo’s assertion that money is poison, and that the Apothecary commits a crime to abate his poverty, and not because he is inherently a criminal.

The plan now is to cast the play at our next meeting and begin to stage it from there. The women asked for a detailed “rehearsal schedule,” which I’ve made, always with the caveat that we know we’ll have to be flexible. Everyone is very excited to get on with it!