All about Shakespeare
Theatre department performs lesser-known Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing
Free for students
It’s that time of the semester when students have much ado about assignments, papers, midterms, and what have you, so it’s fitting for the theatre department’s penultimate production of the year to be Much Ado About Nothing.
While there’s a wide array of Shakespearean plays to choose from, director Kelly Handerek said Much Ado About Nothing was chosen to be performed because it hasn’t seen as much stage time as other Shakespearean comedies such as Twelfth Night (Or What You Will) or As You Like It.
“It’s one of those Shakespeares that, until just this year, has not been performed all that much,” Handerek said. “It’s quite a dynamic and complicated comedy and yet quite fun-loving … seldom do you get to see Much Ado About Nothing.”
For those unfamiliar with the play, as this is one of Shakespeare’s lesser-performed comedies, Handerek described Much Ado About Nothing as about “watching, seeing people do things.”
“The whole play is a riddle play, a puzzle play, about the idea of viewing people doing things and wondering why they do what they do when they fall in love or have a dispute,” Handerek said.
Anyone who has read and/or watched a Shakespeare play knows they can be exceedingly long, so the theatre department has opted to omit certain parts in the interest of brevity. Handerek said any lines or scenes omitted were not central to the plot and understanding of the play and audiences shouldn’t be concerned that this may impede their following of the narrative.
“We didn’t edit the play so it’s unrecognizable. We took out some obscure references that would have been very popular in its time and understood by the audience … it’s usual playing time is about three hours and twenty minutes and now it’s playing time is under two and a half hours,” Handerek said.
Other changes to the play include its temporal setting being in the 1930s. Handerek said he and designer Wes Pearce drew inspiration from paintings by Henri Rousseau.
“The particular painting that [Pearce] found had all the wonderful colours that are in Much Ado. Much Ado is a very colourful play to look at … it has an autumnal feel to it, but it’s in that full bloom of summer, those wonderful, hot Septembers and Octobers that we enjoy in Saskatchewan … there was a biplane and a hot-air balloon going through the sky and we thought this would be perfect, 1910 tracking through the early 1930s,” Handerek said.
As you’re watching the University of Regina theatre department’s production of Much Ado About Nothing, you may not recognize one of the actors on stage – or perhaps you will from plays elsewhere. The department has brought in guest actor Ryland Alexander, who performed in the Golden Apple Theatre’s production of Billy Bishop Goes to War earlier this year, to perform in the play.
The department has done this with past performances to give students a chance to see what it’s like working with one who does this as his or her career.
Niki Elek, a fourth-year acting student playing the role of Margaret in the play, said “it’s great” to work with an actor who has performed at a professional level. She described it as a sort of “co-op for [theatre students].”
Moreover, Elek said having Alexander in the play has benefited not only the students in the play, but the production as a whole.
“If you were able to see the beginning of rehearsals to the end, I feel that every actor has taken away something from Ryland [Alexander],” Elek said. “[Rehearsals] are so incredibly great now. They’re so much better; it’s phenomenal.”