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Student Script for Primary Schools

Romeo & Juliet

by

William Shakespeare

Abridged for the Shakespeare Schools Festival

by

Martin Lamb

30 minute version

11.05.11

© Shakespeare Schools Festival (SSF) “We are such stuff as dreams are made on.” Copyright of the abridged scripts rest with Shakespeare Schools Festival charity. Your registration fee only allows you to perform the abridgement during the current Festival. You may not share the script with other schools, or download all the scripts for personal use. A public performance of the SSF abridged script must be premiered at the professional SSF theatre.

LIST OF ROLES

The Prince

PRINCE ESCALUS OF VERONA

Paris

A YOUNG COUNT

Old Montague

HEAD OF THE HOUSE OF MONTAGUE

Old Capulet

HEAD OF THE HOUSE OF CAPULET

Romeo

MONTAGUE’S SON

Mercutio

KINSMAN TO THE PRINCE, FRIEND TO ROMEO

Benvolio

NEPHEW TO MONTAGUE, FRIEND TO ROMEO

Tybalt

NEPHEW TO LADY CAPULET

Juliet

DAUGHTER TO CAPULET

Nurse to Juliet

Lady Montague

WIFE TO MONTAGUE

Lady Capulet

WIFE TO CAPULET

Friar Lawrence

OF THE FRANCISCAN ORDER, FRIEND TO ROMEO

Friar John

OF THE FRANCISCAN ORDER

Balthasar

SERVANT TO ROMEO

Servants to Capulet

Searchers 1

Watchman 1

Watchman 2

Watchman 3

1 Responsible for boarding up houses where the plague is suspected

SEQUENCE 1

NARRATOR(S)

Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

BENVOLIO

Part, fools! Put up your swords: you know not what you do.

ENTER TYBALT (a Capulet)

TYBALT

What, art thou drawn amongst these heartless hinds? 2 Turn thee Benvolio, look upon thy death.

BENVOLIO

I do but keep the peace.

TYBALT

 

What, drawn 3 and talk of peace? I hate the word As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee. Have at thee, coward.

ENTER OLD CAPULET and his wife, LADY CAPULET ENTER OLD MONTAGUE and his wife, LADY MONTAGUE opposite ENTER THE PRINCE and his attendants, including MERCUTIO

PRINCE

What ho, you men, you beasts! Throw your mistempered weapons to the ground.

Three civil brawls bred of an airy word, 4 By thee, old Capulet, and Montague, Have thrice disturbed the quiet of our streets. If ever you disturb our streets again, Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace. On pain of death, all men depart.

The two families split up and exit. EXIT THE PRINCE and ATTENDANTS. Only OLD MONTAGUE and OLD CAPULET and their wives are left on stage.

2 Benvolio is interfering in a brawl between mere servants, Tybalt wishes to point this out.

3 Benvolio has drawn his weapon and yet he talks about peace.

4 A small and petty remark

NARRATOR(S)

Old Montague and Old Capulet are tired. All the fighting between the two families wears them down but neither knows how to stop it. EXIT OLD MONTAGUE and LADY MONTAGUE

To cheer himself Old Capulet plans a party for that night. He gives a servant a list of all the guests to invite. As OLD CAPULET and LADY CAPULET leave.

Unfortunately the Servant can’t read.

And the first two people the Capulet servant comes across are Montagues Benvolio, and the son of Old Montague himself, young Romeo.

SERVANT

(seeing them) I pray, sir, can you read?

ROMEO

Mmm… a fair assembly.

(to the SERVANT) Whither should they come?

SERVANT

My master is the great rich Capulet, and if you be not of the house of Montagues, I pray come and crush a cup of wine. Rest you merry.

SEQUENCE 2

NARRATOR(S)

The Capulets have a daughter, Juliet, two weeks short of her fourteenth birthday. But, as is the custom they seek to have her married. The young man they have in mind, Count Paris, will be at the party. Juliet isn’t sure if she will like him.

A SERVANT enters

SERVANT

Madam, the guests are come, supper is served, you called, my young lady asked for, the Nurse cursed in the pantry, and everything in extremity. I must hence to wait, I beseech you follow strait.

LADY CAPULET exits.

ROMEO

What lady’s that which doth enrich the hand Of yonder knight?

HIRED SERVANT

I know not, sir. (he continues on his way)

ROMEO

O she doth teach the torches to burn bright!

TYBALT

(who has overheard ROMEO) This, by his voice, should be a Montague. (he seeks out OLD CAPULET) Uncle, this is a Montague, our foe…

CAPULET

Young Romeo is it?

TYBALT

‘Tis he, that villain Romeo.

CAPULET

Content thee, gentle coz 5 , let him alone.

TYBALT

 

I’ll not endure him.

CAPULET

He shall be endured. Am I the master here, or you? Go to!

NARRATORS(S)

First sight is enough. In a moment, they both recognise the same feeling. He kisses her hand

JULIET

You kiss by th’ book.

NURSE

Madam, your mother craves a word with you.

EXIT JULIET to look for her mother

ROMEO

What is her mother?

NURSE

Her mother is the lady of the house.

ROMEO

A Capulet?

BENVOLIO

Away, be gone.

ROMEO

Ay. They leave and the party breaks up.

CAPULET

I thank you, honest gentlemen, goodnight.

ENTER JULIET and NURSE

JULIET

Nurse, what is yond gentleman?

NURSE

His name is Romeo. The only son of your great enemy.

JULIET

My only love sprung from my only hate!

5 Cousin

LADY CAPULET

(from off-stage) Juliet!

NURSE

Come, let’s away, the strangers are all gone.

EXIT all

SEQUENCE 3

NARRATORS

So there it is. Romeo and Juliet have fallen in love. With each other. Romeo now has three enemies – Juliet’s family of course But now, his own family, And time. He must act quickly. That night he climbs over the Capulet family’s garden wall to try to find Juliet’s room.

ROMEO

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun!

JULIET appears at her balcony. She does not see Romeo.

JULIET

O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? 6 O, be some other name. What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other word would smell as sweet. Romeo, doff thy name, And for that name, which is no part of thee, Take all myself.

ROMEO

(emerging from his hiding place) I take thee at thy word. Henceforth I never will be Romeo.

JULIET

I know thy sound Art thou not Romeo, and a Montague?

ROMEO

Neither, fair maid, if either thee dislike.

JULIET

If any of my kinsmen find thee here, they will murder thee.

ROMEO

My life were better ended by their hate Than death prorogued 7 , wanting of thy love.

6 ‘Wherefore’ in this context means ‘why’. She is asking why the man she loves must be Romeo, a Montague.

7 postponed

NURSE

(from off-stage) Juliet! JULIET exits

ROMEO

O blessed, blessed night. I am afeard Being in night, all this is but a dream. JULIET returns.

JULIET

Dear Romeo, If that thy bent of love be honourable, Thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow.

ROMEO

By the hour of nine.

JULIET

I will not fail. Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow That I shall say good night till it be tomorrow. She exits.

ROMEO

Hence will I to Friar Lawrence’s close cell, His help to crave and my dear hap 8 to tell.

SEQUENCE 4

NARRATOR(S)

Romeo is in luck; Friar Lawrence is the one person in Verona who thinks a marriage between Romeo and Juliet may put an end to the war between the Montagues and the Capulets. Juliet’s Nurse is told that they can be married that afternoon.

Romeo is still a Montague, but he is also now a Capulet something only four people knew. It is a situation new to Romeo, as he discovers on his way home through the streets that evening

There, Romeo’s friend Mercutio, from the Prince’s court, is

walking with

Romeo’s other friend, Benvolio, Suddenly the fiery

Capulet, Tybalt, approaches.

ENTER, with others, BENVOLIO and MERCUTIO in discussion. And then TYBALT with others.

BENVOLIO

By my head, here come the Capulets.

MERCUTIO

By my heel, I care not.

TYBALT

Gentlemen, good e’en: a word with one of you.

MERCUTIO

And but one word with one of us? Couple it with something;

8 fortune

make it a word and a blow.

TYBALT

You shall find me apt enough to that, sir.

BENVOLIO

All eyes gaze on us.

ENTER ROMEO

TYBALT

Well, here comes my man.

MERCUTIO

But I’ll be hanged sir, if he wear your livery.

TYBALT

Romeo! The love I bear thee can afford No better term than this: thou art a villain.

ROMEO

Tybalt, villain am I none. Therefore farewell. I see thou knowest me not.

TYBALT

Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries That thou hast done me. TYBALT draws his sword

ROMEO

I love thee better than thou canst devise.

MERCUTIO

(thinking Romeo is a coward)

O

calm, dishonourable, vile submission!

(He draws his sword) Tybalt!

TYBALT

I am for you. They fight.

ROMEO

Hold Tybalt! Good Mercutio

BENVOLIO

What, art thou hurt?

MERCUTIO

(to ROMEO) Why the dev’l came you between us? I was hurt under your arm.

ROMEO

I thought all for the best.

MERCUTIO

Help me into some house, Benvolio, Or I shall faint. Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man. A plague o’ both your houses! A plague o’ both your houses! BENVOLIO helps him off.

ROMEO

My very friend, hath got this mortal hurt

In my behalf -

BENVOLIO

Enter BENVOLIO O Romeo, Romeo, brave Mercutio is dead. Enter TYBALT with sword drawn. Here comes the furious Tybalt back again!

ROMEO

Again, in triumph, and Mercutio slain?

TYBALT

Thou, wretched boy, shalt with him hence.

ROMEO

(drawing his sword) This shall determine that.

They FIGHT and TYBALT is killed.

BENVOLIO

Romeo, away, be gone! Why dost thou stay?

ROMEO

O, I am fortune’s fool. He runs away.

NARRATORS

Romeo has killed Tybalt, but Tybalt has killed Mercutio, the Prince’s man. What will the Prince’s verdict be?

THE PRINCE enters

PRINCE

Exile! Let Romeo hence in haste, Else, when he is found, that hour is his last.

NARRATORS

The Nurse tells Juliet all that has happened and Friar Lawrence tells Romeo that he is to be banished from Verona. But, between them, they arrange for Romeo and Juliet to spend their wedding night together.

ENTER OLD CAPULET, LADY CAPULET and COUNT PARIS

Juliet’s parents, though, have other plans for their daughter, thinking, of course, she is still unmarried.

OLD CAPULET

PARIS

OLD CAPULET

Sir Paris, I will make a desperate tender Of my child’s love:

Wife, go you to her ere you go to bed Acquaint her here of my son Paris’ love… But soft, what day is this?

Monday, my lord.

A’ Thursday let it be – a’ Thursday, tell her, She shall be married to this noble earl. Will you be ready? Do you like this haste?

PARIS

My lord, I would that Thursday were tomorrow.

OLD CAPULET

(to his wife) Go you to Juliet ere you go to bed. Prepare her, wife, against this wedding day. Farewell, my lord. A’ Thursday be it then. THEY EXIT

NARRATORS

But this wedding night Juliet is with her Romeo and neither wants it to end. ENTER JULIET and ROMEO

JULIET

Wilt thou be gone? Yond light is not daylight, I know it, I. Thou need’st not be gone.

ROMEO

I have more care to stay than will to go. Let’s talk. It is not day.

JULIET

It is, it is. O, now be gone, more light and light it grows.

ROMEO

More light and light: more dark and dark our woes.

ENTER NURSE

NURSE

Madam! Your lady mother is coming to your chamber. She exits.

ROMEO

Farewell, farewell. One kiss and I’ll descend. They kiss

JULIET

O, think’st thou we shall ever meet again?

ROMEO

I doubt it not. He exits.

ENTER LADY CAPULET

NARRATOR

So, as Romeo makes his way to exile twenty miles away in Mantua, Juliet learns what her parents want her to do. Her response is clear.

JULIET

I pray you, tell my lord and father, madam, I will not marry yet.

LADY CAPULET

(shocked) Here comes your father, tell him so yourself.

ENTER OLD CAPULET

CAPULET

I tell thee what: get thee to church a’ Thursday, Or never after look me in the face. Speak not, reply not, do not answer me! He exits and his wife follows him.

NARRATOR

Only Nurse is left to offer her comfort.

NURSE

I think it best you married with Count Paris. O, he’s a lovely gentleman!

JULIET

Well, thou hast comforted me marvellous much. I’ll to Friar Lawrence to know his remedy; If all else fail, myself have power to die. Exits

NARRATOR

Juliet rushes to see Friar Lawrence. COUNT PARIS and FRIAR LAWRENCE enter. Count Paris has also been to see him about Thursday’s wedding.

PARIS

Happily met, my lady and my wife.

JULIET

That may be, sir, when I may be a wife.

PARIS

That may be, must be, love, on Thursday next.

JULIET

What must be, shall be.9

FRIAR LAWRENCE

Well, that’s a certain text.

PARIS

Come you to make confession to this father?

JULIET

To answer that, I should confess to you.

PARIS

Do not deny to him that you love me.

JULIET

I will confess to you that I love him.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

My lord, we must entreat the time alone.

PARIS

Adieu.

He leaves.

JULIET

Oh, come weep with me, past hope, past cure, past help!

NARRATORS

Juliet confesses to Friar Lawrence - that she is in utter despair, that she would rather throw herself from a rooftop or be chained up with wild bears than live without Romeo. Father Lawrence has a solution.

9 A well-known saying.

The night before the wedding, she is to drink the potion he gives her. This will make her appear to be dead just long enough for her to be placed in the family tomb and for him to write to Romeo. When she wakes Romeo will be there and will take her off to Mantua. Juliet returns home in a happier mood.

JULIET is met by OLD CAPULET, LADY CAPULET and NURSE

OLD CAPULET

How now my headstrong! Where have you been gadding?

JULIET

Where I have learnt me to repent the sin Of disobedient opposition And beg your Pardon, I beseech you.

OLD CAPULET

Send for Count Paris, go tell him of this. I’ll have this knot knit up tomorrow morning. Go, Nurse, go with her. We’ll to church tomorrow.

JULIET

(realising that she must take the Friar’s medicine that night) So please you, let me now be left alone, And let the nurse this night sit up with you; For, I am sure, you have your hands full In this so sudden business.

LADY CAPULET

Good night. Get thee to bed, and rest, for thou hast need. OLD CAPULET, LADY CAPULET and NURSE leave.

JULIET

What if this mixture do not work at all? Shall I be married then tomorrow morning? No, no. Romeo, I come! This do I drink to thee. She drinks and collapses as if dead.

NARRATORS

The Capulets work all night on the preparations for the wedding and, in the morning, the Nurse is sent to wake Juliet. ENTER NURSE

NURSE

Mistress! Mistress! Juliet! Why, you slug-a-bed! How sound she is asleep!

I must needs wake you. Lady! Lady! Lady!

Alas, alas! Help, help! My lady’s dead!

ENTER OLD CAPULET & LADY CAPULET

LADY CAPULET

OLD CAPULET

Dead?

Ha! Let me see her. Out alas. She’s cold.

ENTER FRIAR LAWRENCE, PARIS and others.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

Come, is the bride ready to go to church?

CAPULET

Ready to go, but never to return.

SEQUENCE 5

NARRATORS

Even though the marriage has been brought forward the Friar believes his plan will still work Romeo will know that Juliet isn’t really dead from the letter he’s sent him. And he can look after Juliet until Romeo has time to get back from Mantua.

What Friar Lawrence doesn’t know, was that his messenger, Friar John, hasn’t delivered the letter to Romeo because he’s been shut up in a house suspected of the plague.

FRIAR JOHN

But I must bear this letter to Mantua!

SEARCHER

What?! And post them the plague?!

NARRATOR(S)

So Romeo never learns about Juliet pretending to be dead. He hears instead that Juliet is dead. His servant, Balthasar, has ridden to Mantua to tell him the bad news.

ENTER ROMEO and BALTHASAR

ROMEO

News from Verona! How, now Balthasar, Doth thou not bring me letters from the Friar? How doth my Juliet?

BALTHASAR

O pardon me for bringing these ill news. Her body sleeps in Capels monument, And her immortal part with angels lives.

ROMEO

Is it e’en so? Then I defy you, stars! I will hence tonight. Hast thou no letters for me from the Friar?

BALTHAZAR

No my good lord.

ROMEO

No matter. Get thee gone. Hire post horses. I’ll be with thee straight. EXIT BALTHASAR

NARRATORS

Romeo has one thing left to do. He seeks out a poor apothecary and, though it is against the law, persuades him to sell him some poison

To Romeo it isn’t poison. It is medicine.

ROMEO

Come cordial, and not poison, go with me To Juliet’s grave, for there must I use thee. EXIT ROMEO

SEQUENCE 6

NARRATORS

When Friar John is released from the plague-house he finds Friar Lawrence.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

The letter was not nice 10 but full of charge 11 , And the neglecting of it may do much danger. Friar John, go hence. Get me an iron crow and bring it straight Unto my cell. FRIAR JOHN hurries off.

Now must I to the monument alone. Within this three hours will fair Juliet awake. I will write again to Mantua, And keep her at my cell till Romeo come. Poor living corse, closed in a dead man’s tomb. EXIT FRIAR LAWRENCE

SEQUENCE 7

The Capulet Vault.

NARRATOR

The vault in the graveyard where all the Capulets who had died were laid to rest is a dark and scary space and kept locked. But today many people are drawn to it. First, is Count Paris. ENTER PARIS and his PAGE.

PARIS

Whistle to me boy. As signal that thou hear’st something approach. Give me those flowers. Do as I bid thee, go. THE PAGE scurries off to act as look-out. PARIS enters the vault.

10 trivial

11 important

Sweet flower, with flowers thy bridal bed I strew. There is a whistle from THE PAGE. The boy gives warning, something doth approach.

ENTER ROMEO and BALTHASAR

ROMEO

Give me the wrenching iron. Hold, take this letter. See thou deliver it to my lord and father. Give me the light. Now, hence, be gone.

BALTHASAR

I will be gone, sir.

PARIS

This is that banished haughty Montague That murdered my love’s cousin And here is come to do some villainous shame To the dead bodies. (arresting ROMEO) Obey, and go with me, for thou must die.

ROMEO

I must indeed.

PARIS

I apprehend thee for a felon here.

ROMEO

Wilt thou provoke me? Then have at thee boy! They fight.

PAGE

O Lord, they fight! I will go call the Watch. EXIT PAGE. ROMEO slays PARIS.

PARIS

O, I am slain! If thou be merciful Open the tomb, lay me with Juliet. PARIS dies.

ROMEO

In faith I will. Let me peruse this face. Mercutio’s kinsman, noble Count Paris! O, give me thy hand.

Death lie thou there. Ah, dear Juliet, here I still will stay with thee. Here’s to my love (he drinks) O true apothecary, Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die. He dies.

FRIAR LAWRENCE enters the graveyard,

FRIAR LAWRENCE

Saint Francis be my speed. BALTHASAR steps out of the shadows. Who’s there?

BALTHASAR

FRIAR LAWRENCE

BALTHASAR

FRIAR LAWRENCE

BALTHASAR

A friend.

Tell me, good my friend, What torch is yond?

(pointing into the vault) There’s my master, one that you love.

Who is it?

Romeo.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

Romeo! Romeo! O, pale. Who else? What, Paris too? And steeped in blood? The lady stirs JULIET wakes and sits up.

JULIET

O comfortable friar! Where is my lord? I do remember well where I should be, And there I am. Where is my Romeo?

PAGE

(off-stage) This way, sirs.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

I hear some noise. Lady, come from that nest Of Death. Come, come away. Thy husband in thy bosom there lies dead Stay not to question, for the watch is coming.

JULIET

Go, get thee hence, for I will not away. FRIAR LAWRENCE rushes away. What’s here? A cup, closed in my true love’s hand? Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end. O churl! Drunk all, and left no friendly drop To help me after? I will kiss thy lips. Haply some poison yet doth hang on them. (she kisses him) Thy lips are warm.

WATCHMAN

(off-stage) Lead, boy: which way?

JULIET

Yea, noise? Then I’ll be brief. O happy dagger! This is thy sheath. (she stabs herself) There rust, and let me die. She falls on Romeo’s body and dies.

ENTER PAGE and WATCHMAN with others.

PAGE

This is the place, sir, (pointing to the tomb) THE WATCHMAN enters and takes in the scene.

WATCHMAN 1

Go tell the Prince. Run to the Capulets. Raise up the Montagues. Some others search. ENTER MORE WATCHMEN with BALTHASAR

WATCHMAN 2

Here’s Romeo’s man. We found him in the churchyard.

WATCHMAN 1

Hold him in safety till the Prince come hither. ENTER OTHER WATCHMEN with FRIAR LAWRENCE

WATCHMAN 3

Here is a friar that trembles, sighs and weeps. We took him coming from this churchyard’s side.

WATCHMAN 1

A great suspicion. Stay the friar too.

ENTER THE PRINCE, OLD CAPULET, LADY CAPULET, MONTAGUE and servants attending all. They reach the bodies

PRINCE

(pointing to the FRIAR) Say at once what thou dost know in this. Where’s Romeo’s man? What can he say to this? FRIAR LAWRENCE and BALTHASAR come forward and turn upstage as if to address everyone else on stage.

NARRATOR

And so Friar Lawrence and Balthasar explain what they know and what you have seen. And Old Montague reports how his wife has suffered a heart attack on hearing of her son Romeo’s death. THE PAGE comes forward to speak to the crowd and BALTHASAR gives Romeo’s letter to the PRINCE Paris’s page tells of his master’s presence in the tomb and the Prince reads Romeo’s letter to his father.

PRINCE

This letter doth make good the Friar’s word. Where be these enemies? Capulet, Montague See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate, That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love. All are punished.

CAPULET

O brother, Montague, give me thy hand. They shake hands This is my daughter’s jointure, for no more Can I demand.

MONTAGUE

But I can give thee more For I will raise her statue in pure gold That whiles Verona by that name is known There shall no figure at such rate be set As that of true and faithful Juliet. 12

12 Montague will build a statue in Juliet’s honour that will not be rivalled.

CAPULET

As rich shall Romeo’s by his lady’s lie, Poor sacrifices of our enmity.

PRINCE

Go hence to have more talk of these sad things. Some shall be pardoned, and some punished. For never was a story of more woe Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

THE END