Shakespeare's Birthday at Home: Romeo and Juliet

One of the ways you can celebrate Shakespeare's birthday at home on Friday, April 23, is with a special premiere of the National Theatre's Romeo & Juliet, directed by Simon Godwin, on PBS's Great Performances. In addition to watching the performance, you can read the play, listen to an interview with the director on the Folger's Shakespeare Unlimited podcast, and find Folger resources to enrich your understanding of Shakespeare's famous tragedy.


Great Performances on PBS presents Romeo & Juliet, an original film for television by the National Theatre, premiering Friday, April 23, at 9pm ET  on PBS, and the PBS Video app. In this contemporary rendering of Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy, a company of actors in a shuttered theater bring to life the tale of two young lovers striving to transcend a world of violence and hate. The production stars Josh O'Connor and Jessie Buckley, directed by Shakespeare Theatre Company Artistic Director Simon Godwin. Listen to the Folger's interview with Godwin on the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast.


Read the complete text of Romeo and Juliet, freely available on The Folger Shakespeare. You can also find a synopsis of the play, the list of characters, an introduction to the play from the Folger Shakespeare editors, notes on Shakespeare's language in the play, and an essay from Folger Director Emerita Gail Paster.


Enjoy a selection of Folger podcast episodes, blog posts, and videos to enrich your understanding of Romeo and Juliet. The Folger also offers additional resources such as early printed texts and related images from the Folger collection.

Shakespeare Unlimited podcast

Romeo and Juliet Through the Ages
Learn how Romeo and Juliet has been cut and molded to fit certain cultural expectations in different time periods.

Elizabethan Street Fighting
How do the duels in Romeo and Juliet reflect the street violence of Shakespeare's day?

Charlotte Cushman: When Romeo Was a Woman
Actress Charlotte Cushman was a 19th-century theatrical icon known for playing traditionally male roles, like Romeo, with a uniquely assertive and athletic style.

Olivia Hussey: The Girl on the Balcony
Olivia Hussey was just fifteen when Franco Zeffirelli cast her in the 1968 film Romeo and Juliet. Hear an interview with the actress.

Leonard Bernstein and West Side Story
Take a closer look at American composer Leonard Bernstein and the creation of West Side Story, the 1957 smash Broadway hit adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.

Juliet's Answer
Starting in the 1930s, people began sending letters asking for advice on love and romance to Verona, Italy. The letters were all addressed to Juliet.

Blog posts from Shakespeare & Beyond and The Collation

The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet in four beautiful duets
Matthew Shilvock of San Francisco Opera writes about the Charles Gounod opera based on Shakespeare's love story.

Two film studios, alike in dignity
A program in the Folger collection raises questions about two lost film adaptations of Romeo and Juliet in 1916.

A carousel of tragedy
See inside a delightful artist's book inspired by Romeo and Juliet.

Videos about Folger collection items

Jean Cocteau's Romeo
Explore a wonderful example of surrealist theater.

Romeo and Juliet
This painting by James Northcote captures a key moment in the play.