Dec. 01, 2010 - Issue #789 : Beckett Shorts
Much ado about winter
The Bard won the Walterdale's first-ever donor vote
"Last year anybody who was a donor for Walterdale could vote for one of three plays: Much Ado about Nothing was one, Hedda Gabler by Ibsen was another and The Seagull by Anton Chehkov was the third," director Anne Marie Szucs explains.
"So the artistic director Kristen Finlay asked me to be the director for this unknown show, and my fingers were crossed for Much Ado because I'm a big Shakespeare fan. I think there are a lot of Shakespeare buffs in our audience, because they stuffed the ballot box for Much Ado!" she laughs.
Szucs adds that the fact that it was the only comedy on the ballot may have also had something to do with its overwhelming victory.
"I think people just need some lightness and some comedy and some fun, especially at this time of year; it's just insane: getting ready for Christmas and all of that. So, this is just a little bit of a break, some fun, you know?"
This idea of winter is also where Szucs drew her inspiration for some of the lighting and costume design elements of the play. While Much Ado is historically more of a spring-like play, Szucs thought that subtly adapting it to fit its December-time run would feel more genuine for the audience.
"So the theme that we're playing with is the idea of Winter Solstice, and the idea that there's great light in this play but there's also great dark, and these forces of light win out over the forces of dark.
In addition to this small change to the play, Szucs also cut quite a bit of text to make the play more fast-paced.
"There was some pushback in the beginning from a lot of the Shakespeare purists in the cast, but my rationale is that there is so, so much repetition built into Shakespeare's plays. As an audience member, that's when I start to tune out, and I don't want my audiences to tune out, so that's my selfish bias there."
That said, even without these edits Much Ado is already one of Shakespeare's most accessible plays. As Szucs notes, the play is full of jokes and is written almost entirely in conversational English that anybody can understand.
"It causes me to stop quite a bit and realize that life really is 'much ado about nothing,'" she says. "We have so much side drama in our day-to-day life, and you just have to let it go, because it is much ado about nothing. We spend so much of our energy on nothing.
"Instead of doing that and being stressed out about it, why not come out and see this play instead?" V
Thu, Dec 2 – Sat, Dec 4, Thu, Dec 7 – Sat, Dec 11 (8 pm); Sun, Dec 5 (2 pm)
Much Ado About Nothing
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Anne Marie Szucs
Starring Rob Johnstone, Murray Cullen, Patrick Errington, Justin Deveau, Dale Wilson, Leah Paterson, Erika Conway
Walterdale Playhouse (10322 - 83 Ave), $12 – $16
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