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Adaption of Romeo and Juliet: Twenties Style
I can’t believe how different my parents and I are from each other. It’s 1926 in New York City, the world is changing all around us, but it seems like my parents live in a world of their own. There are talkies, jazz clubs, flappers, smoking, and drinking. But they’re still talking about me having to settle down and have babies. I just want to have fun. I don’t want to be tied down to a relationship at such an early age. I want to go to college and see the world before its too late. What I want to do is a little like jazz. It’s screwy and different, but somehow like the notes of a song it comes together into something unreal and amazing. I want to be a composer of words. I want to live my own life. It doesn’t seem like anyone, especially my parents, understand me.
(Starlight Jazz club - Juliet and her friend are dancing and some guys walk over.)
Guy #1: How would you dames like to join me for a flask?
(Others leave, expect Romeo and Juliet)
Juliet: So I see you’re not drinking or dancing. If you’re not interested in either, than what do you like to do?
Romeo: Well, I like to red. As a matter of fact I just finished The Great Gatsby.
(Juliet looks surprised)
Juliet: Really, that’s one of my favorite novels. What part was your favorite?
Romeo: I believe that part where the murderers casually eat chickens after killing someone. That seems a lot like how my parents act. They constantly try to get me balled, knowing how it makes me feel and just go on casually with their lives as if nothing happened.
Juliet: Well, I can relate to that. It seems like my parents’ favorite hobby is to razz me about my clothes and my behavior. They’re such wet blankets. They never pay attention to what I want or how I feel.
Romeo: It seems as if you and I have something in common.
Juliet: Ha, and how. It finally seems like I have someone to relate to. No one seems to understand my need to go to college, to socialize, to see the world.
Romeo: I can relate. All I want to do is explore. Perhaps one day we can explore together. (Winks coyly)
Juliet: (Laughs and smiles affectionately) Perhaps one day we will.
(Juliet’s friend comes back)
Juliet’s friend: Juliet, it’s late and my dogs are tired. Why don’t we head home?
Juliet (to her friend): Okay, I’ll be right there.
Juliet (to Romeo): I have to go now. It really was nice meeting you.
Romeo: Here (hands a folded piece of paper to Juliet). I’ll see you around sometime.
Juliet nods before walking away. She opens up paper to find a phone number and address. Before entering the real world Juliet smiles to herself.
(Juliet is getting dressed for a nice dinner she is going to have with her parents and Paris, a son of her parents’ friends. She is not happy about it.)
(As Juliet is getting ready, her mom starts examining her closet.)
Mother: Why do you insist on having such short clothes? Do you want to look like a quiff? (Translation: prostitute.)
Juliet: These clothes are just fine. This is the style now.
Mother: And why do you insist on listening to this wretched “jazz” music of yours and going to those despicable wild parties.
Juliet: It’s who I am and it’s what I like to do. Why should I let my youth waste away waiting for something I don’t want?
Mother: Marrying and having children is a tradition, and whether you like it or not, is the least of my concerns. It doesn’t matter what you want, so hurry up and get downstairs, Paris will be here any minute now.
(At this her mother storms off.)
(A little later Paris arrives and starts chatting with Juliet.)
Paris: Hey doll, cash or check? (Translation: Do we kiss now or later?)
(Juliet sneers at Paris)
Juliet: Go chase yourself (Translation: get lost.)
Father: Well I’m glad to see things are heating up between you to. Juliet have I told you what a smart gentleman Paris is?
Paris: Well, I am going to be a business man after a long line of business men in my family. I hope our marriage will prove beneficial to both our families.
(Chokes on her chicken)
Juliet: What?! Marriage…so soon?!
Father: Maybe his responsible nature will curb your reckless side and teach you a few things on how to act better in society.
Juliet: Well, maybe if you stopped living in your own outdated world and paid attention to me, I wouldn’t look so foolish to you.
(Juliet runs off to her room before breaking down in tears with her mother following after her.)
Mother: What’s going on with you? Now Paris will never accept you.
Juliet: Paris can’t see the real me, let alone accept me.
(Juliet starts writing in her diary.)
Mother: You better go down there and apologize. Wait (spotting Juliet’s diary), what’s that?
(The mother snatches the diary from Juliet.)
(She then skims through it, and in a shocked voice says,)
Mother: I just want to have fun and go to college?! So this is the rubbish you’re really thinking about? Listen, you may be able to read all those rubbish books and bark witty comments, but you’ll never be smart enough to achieve anything in life, but becoming a wife, and you probably won’t even be any good at that either.
(Furious with indignation Juliet screams,)
Juliet: Leave me alone!!
(Juliet tears the diary out of her mother’s hands and runs out of the house. She has no idea where to go until she saw Romeo’s paper drop out from the diary. She looks at it and breaks off into a run, running toward Romeo.)
(Juliet runs away crying all the way to Romeo’s house. She sees that Romeo is about to enter his home with loads of paper in his arms.)
(Romeo sees Juliet crying and sets his papers down to hold her.)
Romeo: What’s wrong Juliet? Why are you crying?
Juliet: Romeo, I don’t know where to go. My house is out of the question, my parents hate me.
Romeo: Your parents don’t hate you. They just live in a different world than you do. They grew up in different times with different rules. You’re just different from them in so many ways. But you’re different in the most amazing way.
Juliet: How is it that you understand me so much? Most of the time I feel like no one sees me, as if I don’t exist.
Romeo: Well, I see you perfectly. I guess it’s just because kindred spirits think and feel alike.
Juliet: I wish I could be with you, you understand me so well. I know it sometimes doesn’t seem like it, but I really do care about my parents. It’s just that they keep trying to control everything about me; deciding who I should be, what I should do and who I should be with, I’m just sick of it all. I need to be on my own and live my own life, but I can’t do that unless I’m in the place where I need to be, and that’s not with my parents right now.
(Romeo considered this for a second, looking around as if he’ll find inspiration from his mailbox or green lawn. His eyes strayed across the pile of papers he put down and suddenly he was struck, struck with an idea.)
Romeo: What about going away with me? Just you and me together as if there’s no one else in the world. I just received some college applications in the mail; we can go to college and learn to live. We’ll finally have the life we’re thriving to live. Will you… go to college with me, Juliet?
(Juliet had frightened for a second, but when Romeo finished she felt like grinning to the heavens.)
Juliet: Oh, thank goodness. For a second I thought you were going to propose. Yes Romeo, I would love to, but what about our families? What will they do? What will they say?
Romeo: Right now, it doesn’t even matter. The colleges I’ve applied to are in New York. We’ll be able to stay in the city and finally have lives of our own.
(Juliet and Romeo smile at each other, sweet and hopeful.)
Juliet: That would be swell.