Costumes Make it Even More Fun
Romeo and Juliet begins with the Chorus singing or reciting the Prologue. Have one student read the Prologue and stop to make sure everyone understands what was just read.
Because the visual element is so important for many people to follow and understand dramatic text, let’s take this a step farther.
Act I Scene i begins with two servants of the house of Capulet soon being interrupted by two servants of the house of Montague. Simple capes, made of sheets, can easily clarify who belongs where. For example, the Capulets can have red sheets and the Montagues blue. (Cut the sheets to make them smaller.) Armbands made with colored construction paper will serve the same purpose. The Prince should have a third color, purple, to distinguish him as neutral. The color distinction will make it easier for students to follow what is happening in the play, and that is what is so important.
You can keep it as simple as colored armbands, or get more interesting as you see fit. You may want to distinguish royalty from servants and peasants with simple crowns made from golden pipe cleaners, or perhaps a large yellow make on their armband. (Use yellow or gold construction paper, and cut out a star to glue on the red and blue armbands for royalty.)
It is best when specific characters have a visual all their own, just as when a play is performed. It could be a big “R" and “J" for Romeo and Juliet. Friar Laurence can be distinguished with a rope around his waist, or an actual brown cloak. A white apron is appropriate for the Juliet’s nurse.
Some classes have a lot of fun with these suggestions, I am sure that others are more shy. But by adding visuals and giving the students the opportunity to move and interact with text, you are adding vital elements that any playwright assumes will be added by the company performing the play. Therefore, you give your students the opportunity to follow and appreciate the story as it was meant to be experienced.