This is a potentially controversial statement, but I feel like cutting the prologue is the first thing you should do when directing Romeo and Juliet for a modern audience. Like, right off the bat. It’s not necessary. What does it tell us that we don’t collectively know? It’s not interesting on stage unless you have Jerome Robbins handy to choreograph a dance scene with snapping gangsters.
I just feel like you should watch Romeo and Juliet and not expect the ending. It’s just so much more emotionally satisfying if you sit there thinking: “THERE IS STILL A WAY OUT OF THIS SITUATION.” And then, when everything explodes, you feel that desperate, tragic sadness, too. All I know is that, when you act, you don’t play the ending. You play moment to moment because that’s how we live our lives. I think Romeo and Juliet is a much less interesting, lower stakes play if Romeo and Juliet are aware of their fates from the beginning and don’t react moment to moment. Sure, they both have premonitions, but they both shrug them off and keep on fighting because they believe their lives and love is worth it. I feel like the prologue subverts all of that. Why keep it just because people expect it?
i’m confused. why would romeo and juliet hear the prologue? is there a production somewhere where they do hear it? that’s not normal.
I’m a bit confused by the phrasing as well but perhaps the OP is suggesting that it should be cut so that the audience isn’t reminded of the ending? Although I can’t imagine that many people don’t already know what happens. (Though I did once sit next to someone during a Macbeth performance who was genuinely shocked at each new twist, which was fab!)
I do take issue with the idea that not knowing what happens next and being on tenterhooks to see if things will turn out alright is somehow ‘better’ tragedy. It’s more dramatic but I don’t think it makes it any sadder. (The French often categorised Shakespeare’s tragedies as ‘dramas’ because dramatic tension is a key feature in them.) A lot of their tragic plays are about facing the inevitable or the clash of two good people/ideologies rather than people vs their circumstances. I guess that what someone finds more ‘tragic’ largely stems from personal preference.
I have to say that R&J irritates me as a play (I enjoy it on stage, but have issues with the story) because their actual deaths are caused by so many petty plot devices (dodgy messengers, ill priests etc.). I always feel that cheapens the story - sure, the Montague-Capulet feud is a factor, but not the direct cause of the kids’ deaths.