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Playing Juliet

Jade Anouka has played Juliet in productions around the world. Watch her talk about playing Shakespeare's romantic heroine.
Actor Jade Anouka has played Juliet in theatres around the world. She explains what she loves about this great romantic role. I loved Juliet, actually. And I think what I found interesting playing her, is that before, you hear a lot about Juliet. And actually, when I read the play, I realised how feisty she is, how determined she is, and how funny she is. I found her really funny. And I found that really exciting– to find different parts of her, different elements of her. She’s a good girl at heart. She wants to obey her parents. She wants to be good.
When she meets Romeo, and she falls in love, she has this desire that’s stronger than her parents. And I think a lot of teenagers get to that point, when suddenly they go, there are things that my parents are saying that I don’t necessarily agree with, or that I want to challenge, or you want them to understand your side of the story. And I love in the balcony scene, where Juliet is saying, “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo? Deny thy fortune–” She knows exactly what she wants, and it’s not, “Oh, where are you, Romeo? Oh, you’re so lovely.” It’s, “Come on, Romeo. Come and find me. Forget about the fact that our families are against each other, fight all the time.
If you want me, come and find me.” She knows what she wants, and I love that. She’s very determined. Jade mentioned the famous balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, where Juliet is at home, and comes out onto her balcony. But Romeo is watching her from the garden down below, and listens as she speaks. Some of the language in Juliet’s balcony speech might look unfamiliar, but that’s because the English language has changed in the four centuries since Shakespeare was writing. For example, in Shakespeare’s day, the word “thou” meant “you”, “thy” meant “your”, and “art” meant “are”. But don’t worry, because most of the words in Shakespeare’s plays are still used today.
So, as long as you concentrate, you should be able to understand the main idea. In the next step, you can look at an extract from Juliet’s balcony speech with a version in modern English.
Anthony again introduces Jade, who has performed as Juliet in the UK and in the Middle East.
In this video, she tells us why she loves this role. Here are some of the things Jade mentions about Juliet:
I realised how feisty she is. How determined she is. And how funny she is.
Look at this definition of ‘feisty’. Do you agree that Juliet is feisty?
Sheʼs a good girl at heart. She wants to obey her parents. She wants to be good.
I think that a lot of teenagers get to that point when suddenly … there are things that my parents are saying that I donʼt necessarily agree with.
At what age do you think teenagers should start to make decisions for themselves?

Shakespearean language

Also in the video, Anthony talked about some particular features of Shakespearean language. What do these words mean?
  • thee
  • thou
  • art
In the next step, we’ll look at Juliet’s famous balcony speech.
Anthony gives us some examples of common words that were used in English hundreds of years ago, but which are no longer used.
  • Do you know of any examples from your own language of words that used to be used, but which are no longer used?
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Exploring English: Shakespeare

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