Friar Laurence

A dossier for the new film "The Tragedy of Romeo & Juliet"

The Role

In the film "The Tragedy of Romeo & Juliet" your character is Friar Laurence. Friar Laurence is a supporting character in the film yet is vital to the story and relationship of Romeo and Juliet. This dossier will tell you how I wish for you to portray the character. It will also tell you about how William Shakespeare wrote the character and give you some insight into the characters behaviours and involvement in the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.

Debut Appearance

Friar Laurence first appears in William Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet" in Act II, Scene III. This scene is set after Romeo had gatecrashed the Capulet's ball and fallen in love with Juliet. In his debut appearance Friar Laurence questions Romeo about the events that took place the previous night and finds out that his friends has fallen in love. Friar Laurence is first heard talking to himself in his chamber while holding a basket where he talks about the new day.

The Character's Appearance

Friar Laurence wears clothes similar to that of a monk. He wears a long, brown robe with a hood and robe. Also he wears sandals on his feet and in previous film adaptations is bald and sometimes wears a cross around his head. The Friar would only wear minimalistic clothing and does not wear anything with bright colours as he is not a rich man, he is simply a servant of God.

NOTE : As the source text however is only speech it does not clearly give a description of the character however this is what is required of you (the actor) to be apart of the film.

The Character's Speech, Actions, Thoughts, Interactions & The Feud

In the play, Friar Laurence is a kind and trustworthy character who has honourable intentions for the characters of Romeo and Juliet, however in the story these plans often go awry. This should be shown in the film by him having a caring nature to all he meets. The Friar's speech is formal and features often references to nature or the holy powers such as "O deadly sin!" and "Saint Francis be my speed". He tries to act as the voice of reason especially when Juliet comes to his chamber where she threatens to commit suicide. Although his solution to the problem of Romeo and Juliet may work in theory it ended up being poorly executed which resulted in fatal consequences.

The character must also act as a father figure to Romeo in the film as in the source material he is very concerned about the welfare of the young man. These paternal instinct he has over Romeo leads him to not only be a friend but a confident to the boy. Friar Laurence must also be acted out as a somewhat spontaneous character. This can be seen in the scene previously stated (where Juliet comes to his chamber) and also in the final act where she awakes from "death" to find Romeo dead. The Friar then very persistently tells Juliet she must leave the crypt to go live in a nunnery. It is clear that he is a leader and makes decision that we wishes others to follow. For example in Act V, Scene III he tells Balthasar "Go with me to the vault". Although Balthasar refuses it is clear that Friar Laurence sees himself as someone who can easily command another person to do something, which he believes they would follow.

The character must also not seem to be apart of the feud in any way. Even though he interacts, gives advice to and is a role model to Romeo he is not on the Montague's side. He believe his purpose on Earth is to serve God and help the people of Verona, not get involved in such trivial matters as a family feud. In the film Friar Laurence will be helping people from both houses (marrying Romeo and Juliet, giving the potion to Juliet) and is affected by the feud as a result of this new love between the two main characters. It is important however that he should always seem and remain a bystander to the conflict and that his actions are not connected towards his preference or involvement in the two houses and their feud. Also, Friar Laurence is though willing to marry Romeo and Juliet may also have ulterior motives as he may hope that their marriage may unite the two feuding families.

Other characters must think highly of him and see him as a trustworthy individual as they come to confess and confide in him. He must be acted out calmly throughout the film (even after finding a dead Romeo in the crypt) and must also be portrayed as an entirely trustworthy character, whom people from all classes of society can trust.

Friar Laurence only interacts with a few characters in the film and source text. These are mainly Romeo, Juliet and briefly The Nurse. To Romeo he is a confident, father figure and guides the boy through life. To Juliet the Friar is seen also as a confident and a person she believes to have answers (he gives her the potion that feigns death). The Nurse should interact with him as through he is the protector of Romeo as when she seek the boy she goes to Friar Laurence's chambers instead of the Montague's house.

The Character's Representation & Growth

In the film Friar Laurence represents fairness and rashness. He is a highly respectable character who has morals and beliefs. Yet he also represents some carelessness in the film and is a very rash character. When marrying the title characters he does not seem to think about the actual consequences of their marriage and the Capulet/Montague feud.

William Shakespeare's play shows the Friar as a person with good intentions. He is very fond of assisting people who are in difficult situations. However through the play his plans do not turn out in the way expected by the Friar. After marrying the pair, Romeo is banished. After Romeo is banished he gives Juliet a potion that fakes death. As a result of Juliet's "death" Romeo kills himself which then leads Juliet to do the same to herself. Even though it was not entirely Friar Laurence's fault these things occurred without his input and involvement in the couple's events the story may have turned out differently. At the end of the play the Friar feels guilty about his actions and blames himself for the pair's death. He says "Miscarried by my fault, let my old life Be sacrificed … Unto the rigour of severest law"( (Act V, Scene III, Lines 267-269). In this film adaptation we want him to feel guilt in what he has done leading him to question whether he should stop interfering into other people's lives.

Other Portrayals

Friar Laurence has appeared in all previous film adaptions of William Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet" signifying his importance to the story. In Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 film the character is portrayed by Milo O'Shea. (Below is a video of his portrayal of the character). He is seen as an slightly elderly man, somewhat dirty who wears a thick robe. In 1996's "Romeo + Juliet" (directed by Baz Luhrmann) the Friar is portrayed by the late Pete Postlethwaite and is renamed Father Lawrence who wears a cassock and is slightly bald. Father Laurence is a somewhat stricter man and he himself grows the ingredients for Juliet's potion.
Romeo and Juliet (7/9) Movie CLIP - Art Thou a Man? (1968) HD