Over the past few years I’ve received several requests for an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, but I always felt that I shouldn’t write one. My reasons were numerous, but the main reason was this: I was worried I wouldn’t be able to honor the true spirit of the play while making it accessible to young students. The drama, violence, and romance of the piece requires a certain amount of reverence and seriousness. You cannot be respectful of this beautiful, not to mention famous, piece of work if you lighten it up. There are other people writing Shakespeare adaptations that brush over romantic scenes or cut them out all together. And there are even more adaptations that add humor or melodrama where it doesn’t belong. It is my mission to avoid this at all cost. I aim to write versions of Shakespeare that are accessible without “dumbing” or “watering” the story (or language!) down. Nevertheless, Romeo and Juliet is the most frequently “required reading” of all Shakespeare’s plays. I know teachers are desperately looking for something to help them convey the importance of this piece to their students. In the end it was my very conviction to quality that made me change my mind: I want to support YOU by providing a quality adaptation.
This adaptation varies a bit from the rest. Not only is it a tragedy, it has a significant amount of original text (maybe 75%?), and does not cut much of the violence or romance. There IS kissing! This is something, I’m sure, teachers and directors will have to cope with when choosing to produce the play in it’s entirety. The kissing also makes this script more (or only?) do-able with older ages. Of course, if you merely plan to read it aloud in class, or act out a few scenes, it can still be used with elementary-aged students.
However you choose to use this script, I hope you and your students enjoy it. Above all else, may it help you open the magical world of Shakespeare to the imaginative minds you work with! Thank YOU for what you do!