Romeo & Juliet:

Your Big Break!

A WebQuest for 9th Grade Language Arts

For closure, after reading Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet


Designed by

Cara Lee Swegle


Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits


Film producer Steven Spielberg has said about William Shakespeare's plots, that if there is "a film that didn't draw directly from Shakespeare, I would say it comes from the next Shakespeare. . . . Every plot, every story that anyone tells pretty much falls in step with the plots that Shakespeare invented .."

from A & E Biography Millenium

Mr. Spielberg has come to realize that it has been 44 years since Hollywood has produced an updated version of Romeo and Juliet that showed the timeliness of Shakespeare's themes. That was West Side Story, and you may have seen it. Mr. Spielberg believes that now is the time to produce another quality version of the story, for youthful audiences around the world to appreciate.

Pictures from:

Mr. Spielberg has decided to cast this, his next film, with unknown, even inexperienced actors. He wants the acting to be fresh and meaningful, and he doesn't want a "Hollywood star" to steal the stage from Shakespeare and his timeless themes. As a result, he has held auditions throughout the United States, even in the Pacific Northwest.

You have auditioned for the part of (the character you choose), and SURPRISE! You have made the first cut! This means you are halfway to playing the role of (the character you have chosen) in a Hollywood movie and perhaps becoming rich and famous. You may even win an Academy Award!

There is just one thing. Mr. Spielberg wants each of his inexperienced actors to know his or her character so well that he or she can "become" that character. In Hollywood, this is called "being in character." He wants you, as a contender for your role,

If you win the part, you will leave Silverdale, go to Hollywood, take your school courses from a personal tutor, make even more money than your English teacher makes, and become an actor. Any Spielberg film is a wonderful opportunity. However, you must earn it.


When you have finished this audition, you will have created:

1.) a PowerPoint slide show presentation that you can use to show what you know about your chosen character.

2.) a live character portrayal, using modern language in a scene drawn directly from the play.

Process (Here's How:)

Your PowerPoint presentation: minimum 5 slides
  • Using the essay you have previously written in your English class to explain your chosen character, you will identify the three qualities that you wish to emphasize and three quotes from the play that will illustrate these qualities.
  • Begin a PowerPoint slide show, using these three qualities as the core of your slide show. You may choose to use only three slides for this core part, one for each quality. On the other hand, you may choose to use more than three. In any case, you will need to
  • In addition to these three (or more) slides that make up the core of your PowerPoint slide show, you will need an introductory slide and a concluding slide. These are much like the introduction and the conclusion in an essay. So Mr. Spielberg requires a minimum of five (5) slides in your PowerPoint presentation.
  • J Now for the fun part: Please demonstrate your sense of adventure (finding things) and creativity (using the best and most appropriate things you find) to illustrate the spirit of your presentation. You will find clip art, backgrounds, and pictures from many sources.


    You can copy-paste pictures like the one above by going to the website below. You will also find some interesting information about the 1968 film version we watched.

    For really insightful interpretations of the play, go to

    For the entire Romeo and Juliet script for your use in copying and pasting, go to

    or go to:

    For the script and much more information available to you, including Homework Help, go to:

    For some different pictures and a summary, go to:

    For another summary, go to:

    Your Portrayal of a Character

    Mr. Spielberg has decided to place this movie in the year 2001, so current English is what he wants to hear. This will require some "translation" on your part. Please use the level of English that will best reflect your character.

    For this character portrayal, Mr. Spielberg requires you to:

    1. Choose a scene from Romeo and Juliet that, in your opinion, best depicts the nature of your character
    2. Write a modern version of that scene. (You will take the words that Shakespeare used to reveal your character and update them, in order to depict your character in a way that a modern audience will easily understand. Try not to leave anything out
    3. Be ready to portray this character, using the updated script you have chosen to rewrite. You may very well need a partner with whom to enact your scene. Find someone who has chosen to focus on the character you need. If you cannot, no problem, you can recruit a friend to play opposite you.

    You are requested to use any costumes or props that will help Mr. Spielberg to appreciate your rendition of a scene from Romeo and Juliet.

    Again, for a summary of the play, see:

    Look up difficult Elizabethan words at this site:

    and click on the first letter of the word you wish to understand.

    This site will help with understanding, and offers some useful pictures, too:



    It is a good idea to keep this Evaluation section in mind as you prepare for your audition with Mr. Spielberg. You must first impress his agent, Mrs. Swegle, and her staff, your English class.

    There will be two scores for this Romeo and Juliet project:

    1.) for the PowerPoint presentation (20 pts.);

    2.) for your portrayal of your character (20 pts).

    1) Do you understand how a character's language reflects and illustrates his or her personality? Can you show your understanding?

    Here is the rubric we will use to measure your success in demonstrating your understanding through a PowerPoint presentation. Mrs. Swegle and her staff (a few members of the class) will score your presentation.

    PowerPoint slide show











    Clearly identified character traits

    None of the traits stated is true of that character, or student did not follow instructions for content of this presentation.

    One of the traits stated is true and clearly expressed, according to the play as written.

    Two of the traits stated are true and clearly expressed, according to the play as written.

    All three traits stated are true and clearly expressed, according to the play as written.


    Use of appropriate quotes to illustrate the character's personality traits

    0 - 3 of the quotes used exactly illustrate the traits stated.

    4 - 6 of the quotes used exactly illustrate the traits stated.

    7 - 8 of the quotes used exactly illustrate the traits stated.

    Nine or more of the quotes (3 for each quality) used exactly illustrate traits stated.


    Use of appropriate and relevant background and illustrations. (Consider subject and audience)

    Background and illustrations are inappropriate and/or irrelevant to the subject and to the audience.

    Background and illustrations are slightly appropriate and relevant to the subject and to the audience.

    Background and illustrations are somewhat appropriate and relevant to the subject and to the audience.

    Background and illustrations are exactly appropriate and relevant to the subject and to the audience.


    Animation added to presentation for increased interest.

    No animation in presentation.

    Limited, possibly distracting animation of presentation

    Animation of presentation captures but does not hold audience's attention.

    Animation of presentation captures and holds audience's attention.



    Clarity of oral explanation of presentation to the class.

    Oral explanation is minimal in length and focus, lacking in information.

    Oral explanation is vague and general (not specific to your main points) and seems rushed.

    Oral explanation is not quite complete, somewhat informative, and a bit rushed.

    Oral explanation is complete and informative.


    2.) Can you identify with your chosen character and share in his or her feelings in the given situation? Can you demonstrate this empathy with your character?

    Here is the rubric we will use to measure your success in portraying your chosen character's thoughts and emotions in current English, being faithful to the play as it was written. Mrs. Swegle and a few of her staff (students) will use this rubric.

    Portrayal of a character's thoughts and words











    Choice of scene to represent the character's personality through his / her own language.

    The chosen scene does not demonstrate the character's personality.

    The chosen scene illustrates the character's trait(s) in a vague manner.

    The chosen scene demonstrates the character somewhat specifically

    The chosen scene clearly identifies the character's personality.


    Translation from Shake-spearean to current English.






    Translation shows lack of preparation or understanding of the language of the scene.



    Scene script translates in only a general way the lines of Romeo and Juliet, so the scene is brief and nonspecific.

    Scene script accurately translates most lines of Romeo and Juliet, with nothing important left out.

    Scene script translates lines of Romeo and Juliet completely and accurately, leaving nothing out.




    Acting shows understanding and empathy

    Acting is distracting from the meaning of the scene and understanding of the character.

    Acting is monotone in voice and gesture, showing minimum understanding of and empathy with the character.

    Acting shows a general understanding and a bit of empathy for the character.

    Scene is enacted well, showing understanding of and empathy with the character, as if the character himself or herself were with us.






    Delivery of scene: volume and tone of voice

    Volume and/or tone of voice make hearing and/or understanding difficult, perhaps impossible.

    Audience must make a real effort to hear and/or understand the character portrayed.

    Volume and tone of voice are neither easy nor difficult for the audience.

    Scene is delivered in a manner that the audience can easily hear and appreciate. (volume and tone of voice)


    Movement, facial expression, gestures, costume, prop(s)

    Distractions caused by movement, facial expression, costume or prop(s).

    Limited movement, facial expression, perhaps no costume or prop(s).

    Moderate use of movement, facial expression, costume, and prop(s) contributes slightly to the delivery of the scene.

    Movement, facial expression, costume, and prop(s) contribute to the delivery of the scene.




    Congratulations! That's it for your audition! You got the part! Start packing your bags for Hollywood!

    Seriously, though, you have completed a challenging and creative pair of tasks that will help you remember Shakespeare and Romeo and Juliet for a long time to come. Maybe you can see that the characters and themes that Shakespeare dramatized are just as fresh today as they were 400 years ago, when he wrote his plays and sonnets. You can now say you have experienced Shakespeare firsthand, and you are ready to read or view his other works in the future. In your everyday life, watch for people and situations that are similar to the ones you have seen in Romeo and Juliet.



    Credits & References

    William Shakespeare likeness from

    Westside Story pictures from

    Special thanks to Jamie McKenzie for permission to use his photo from the Musée Rodin in Paris:

    This webquest is based on a template from