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Romeo and Juliet first key extract



When you write about performance, mention the tone or feeling you get at a particular point in the play, and the effect it might have on the audience.

You can find evidence for your ideas in the four question areas:

  • Characters and how you respond to them

  • Language used - the detail about love, for example

  • Issues and ideas - like time, love and hate

  • Performance instructions, such as stage directions

Once you understand how the audience should feel, you can decide how you might direct a particular scene. Remember, there are lots of different ways to perform the same scene. A good answer depends on how well you explain yourself.

Here is an example of an answer to a question about performance. Think about how you might answer the same question.

How should an actor playing Benvolio behave?


Benvolio's replies to Romeo could either show that he is a good listener who wants to understand his friend's problems, or that he is amused by what Romeo has to say because he knows that his friend is not serious about this girl.


When Benvolio speaks to Montague, the mood is serious. When Romeo arrives, he has to ask lots of questions because Romeo is evasive. Some of Benvolio's comments could be said in a sarcastic or sympathetic way. The jokes that the two characters share show that they are good friends. Benvolio gives advice at the end of the scene that shows that he doesn't believe Romeo's love for Rosaline is serious.


The way Benvolio behaves towards Romeo shapes the way the audience perceives Romeo. This is important because Romeo is the main character. The audience has to like him and worry about him for the tragedy to work. If the actor playing Benvolio speaks his lines in a patient and sympathetic way, it makes Romeo seem like a young man who finds the world confusing. If Benvolio's lines are spoken humorously, the comedy in Romeo's speeches will be brought to life.

Once you understand the First Key Extract, you are ready to move on to the second.


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