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Romeo and Juliet: Act II Scene 2 Through the Years

Rachel Yarbrough, Author

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Balcony Scene Setting Changes

The Globe Theater was the primary home of Shakespeare’s acting company beginning in late 1599 ( For over 14 years the theater was very successful and was the host to many of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. During a performance of Henry VIII, a stage cannon was misfired and caused the original Globe to burn down. Through sketches of the Globe, and drawings from similar Elizabethan theaters, the Globe’s stage had two parts: the outer stage and the inner stage.The second level of the tiring-house contained a central balcony, most famously used multiple times in Romeo and Juliet, which was located in the middle. 


The beginning of Act 2, Scene 2, is set in the Capulet’s orchard where Romeo has escaped from his friends after the Capulet party in hopes of seeing Juliet. While he is hidden in the orchard, Juliet comes to the balcony and, thinking she is alone, professes her love to Romeo. Once Romeo hears of her love, he acknowledges his presence and he professes his love to her. Before Romeo leaves, they plan to marry.

In the 1968 version the setting truly brings to life the Capulet's orchard and Juliet's balcony. The director chooses to show Romeo and Juliet speaking about one another separately, but focuses on Romeo's face when Juliet begins to speak unbeknownst to he. The setting is filled with lush green trees and the lighting on set makes the scene much more romantic.

The 1996 version of Romeo+Juliet is a modern-day take on the play, but follows the Bard’s lines directly. Prior to the scene shown in the video provided in the Character Development page, Romeo does not climb a balance; instead, Juliet takes an elevator down to the pool where she then professes her love. Instead of having Juliet listening to Romeo from the balcony and waiting for him to climb up to her, the playing field is equal. Juliet and Romeo are face-to-face which makes the scene more about their connection than their physical distance in the original set-up. After Romeo surprises Juliet by the pool, they both fall in and share a passionate kiss. The modern-setting would appeal to millennials because it seems more realistic and would grab their ever-wandering attention. 

The 2013 version, closely resembles the 1968 version. However, the dedication to showing the Capulet orchard and large, ornate balcony is much more pronounced. The balcony is really part of the large Capulet house which is shown from Romeo's perspective when he goes to search for Juliet. This emphasizes the differences between the two teenagers. The Capulet's power is shown by how large the house is and only establishes how Romeo and Juliet's eventual tryst would affect both of their families. One of the most prominent differences in the 2013 version compared to the other two is that the movie does not follow the lines verbatim.

The setting of the movie can change how viewers experience Shakespeare's play. The 1968 and 2013 versions try to bring the stage to the silver screen, but neither have a unique take or interesting spin. Granted, different actors can change how the story is portrayed, but the setting in both movies is what one would think a "typical" Shakespeare setting would entail. The 1996 version is unique because it takes an entirely different spin. The change brings a freshness to the Bard's play, but that could cause backlash from people. Shakespeare is a well-loved playwright and taking something that has been around for quite some time and retooling it for a modern-day look is a gamble.

Staying on the stage, but taking a different approach to experience Romeo and Juliet's story can be seen in the YouTube clip of the 2007 Royal Ballet in Russia's portrayal of the play. The setting is very minimal, but it is very interesting to watch the iconic scene performed by ballet dancers. There are parts of the dance that are drawn from Shakespeare's play. In the beginning, Juliet looks as if she is contemplating her love for Romeo. When Romeo shows up, it looks as if he is professing his love for  her. Their dance symbolizes all the words of love they share to one another, ending with a passionate kiss. The emotions from the two dancers encapsulates what Juliet and Romeo would be saying if lines were spoken.

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