Much Ado About Nothing
Written By: William Shakespeare
Directed By: James Edmondson*
Love makes a fool of everyone in this comic romp. Shakespeare’s wittiest lovers face a choice: hold onto pride or fall into love.
Much Ado Podcast: Listen to an audio introduction to the play.
Artwork by Peter Sandker
William Shakespeare’s comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, written in the middle part of his career, resumes the examination of the battle between the sexes begun with his earlier play, The Taming of the Shrew. Much Ado interweaves two plots involving two very different couples: the ideal, gullible, Claudio, a handsome young war hero, and Hero, the beautiful daughter of Leonato, Governor of Messina; and Beatrice and Benedick, the mature couple whose journey to each other requires that they finally acknowledge the depth of their long held love. Much Ado takes place at the end of a war and concerns those who have survived as they find the freedom to seek new forms, rituals, and relationships. The old world order values male friendship and the love between men far above the romantic love between men and women. It is a world in which men earned their certain rank by right of birth, not by merit of character.
The story hinges on the influence of those who have been disenfranchised by the accidents of birth and for whom life has withheld much in the past and promises nothing for the future. Within this setting, women work to find their place in a new world being forged in a time of peace and optimism, as the men hold fast to their impenetrable and absolute code of honor and oaths of allegiance. When Benedick forsakes his loyalty to the soldierly world of his male companions in favor of the deeper world of Beatrice and his love for her, there is no turning back.
Thought by many to be originally called Much Ado About Noting (overhearing), Much Ado is a play of conversations overheard and misunderstood; of conversations both harmless and harmful; of conversations which are used to honor love as well as to destroy it. It is a play of disguises and masks of many kinds – all used for many purposes. Our production employs the metaphor of an interrupted dance, emblematic of Beatrice and Benedick’s relationship, which in and of itself has known its interruptions, and which also extends to the near-disastrous severing of Claudio and Hero’s journey to the altar.
Before the play begins:
War has ended.
Don Pedro, the victorious Prince of Aragon, arrives at Leonato, the Governor of Messina’s villa, on the island of Sicily, accompanied by his fellow soldiers, Signor Benedick and Count Claudio, his younger brother, Don John, who has lately rebelled against his older brother, and two of Don John’s followers, Borachio and Conrade.
Beatrice, is in residence at her uncle Leonato’s villa, where she is companion to Leonato’s daughter Hero. She and Benedick have met each other on several occasions.
The Count Claudio has seen Hero once on his way to battle. Both were immediately smitten.
Much Ado About Nothing is a play of constantly shifting tone and focus – from drama to comedy of language to farce.
Through the actions of the “little people” – i.e., Constable Dogberry, Verges, his elderly follower and neighbor, and the hapless quartet comprising The Watch, the play celebrates simplicity: “What your wisdoms could not discover, these shallow fools have brought to light.”
Much Ado About Nothing is part of the great literary tradition of battling wit between two people who deeply love each other and are obviously meant only for each other. Beatrice and Benedick, who know each other “of old,” spar with each other and with themselves, testing their inability to reach beyond the limits of their self-pride so that their love can stand revealed. Well-matched in ways they themselves do not at first perceive (though others do), they use wit and playful language to mask their true feelings for each other until the couple has no other choice except to let down their defenses and declare their love and their loyalty.
Leonato – Michael Fitzpatrick*
Antonia – Leslie Brott*
Hero – Stephanie Lambourn*
Beatrice – Tarah Flanagan*
Margaret – Rosemary Brownlow
Ursula – Caroline Amos
Don Pedro – Andrew Carlson
Don John – Robert Ramirez
Claudio – Brian White
Benedick – Christopher Gerson*
Conrad – Jim Poulos*
Borachio – John Maltese
Balthasar – Silas Sellnow
Friar Francis – JuCoby Johnson
Dogberry – Chris Mixon*
Verges – Benjamin Boucvalt
The Watch – Will Squeal/Sexton (Bailey Bestul), Francis Pickbone (Justin Erbe), Little John Doight (Emily Perkins), George Seacoal (James Queen), Hugh Oatcake (Addison Sim)
*Denotes membership in Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional stage actors and stage managers.
**Denotes membership in United Scenic Artists
***Denotes membership in S*P*A*M (Society of Properties Artisan Managers).
Asst. Director/Text Coach – Jess Shoemaker
Scenic Designer – R. Eric Stone
Props Director – Nikki Kulas***
Costume Designer – Rebecca Bernstein
Lighting Designer – Lonnie Alcaraz**
Sound Designer – Matthew Tibbs
Composer – Silas Sellnow
Choreographer – Tarah Flanagan*
Asst. Lighting Designer – Martha Carter
Stage Manager – Christopher B. Sadler*
Asst. Stage Manager – Violet Smith
Leonato – Blake Henri
Antonia – Sydnee Fullmer
Hero – Emma VanVactor Lee
Beatrice – Maya Jackson
Margaret – Sydnee Fullmer
Ursula – Emma VanVactor Lee
Don Pedro – Dylan Crow
Don John – Dylan Crow
Claudio – Parker Burningham
Benedick – Alex Givens
Conrad – Blake Henri
Borachio – Parker Burningham
Balthasar – Alex Givens
Friar Francis – Parker Burningham
Dogberry – Blake Henri
Verges – Dylan Crow
The Watch – Alex Givens
Sexton – Maya Jackson