Much Ado about Nothing
In the spring of 2018 Thinkery & Verse received a commission to produce William Shakespeare's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. In collaboration with Susan Morano, Suzanne's Specialties, and St. John the Evangelist's Episcopal Church, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING appeared for four weeks at the Assembly Hall of St. John the Evangelist, and then toured throughout the tri-state region.
The story in brief: Benedict and Beatrice, Shakespeare’s whip-smart and quarrelsome lovers, must choose sides when their friends turn against each other over a young woman’s perceived infidelity.
The world-premiere of our four-actor version of MUCH ADO has been directed by J. M. Meyer with a tight-knit cast of just three other actors: Hannah Hale (Benedict/Verges/Conrade/Margaret), Regan Sims (Beatrice/Dogberry/Balthasar/Antonio/Friar), and Karen Alvarado (Claudio/Hero/Don John). Designs by Ashley Basile!
Collapsing the cast to four actors allows us to break racial and gender clichés, and focus on the characters as Shakespeare wrote them. We do not re-gender the characters, but instead approached gender in the fashion of Mark Rylance--we simply accept the characters for who they are, and use Shakespeare's language (and voice and posture) to carve out the story. We're proud of the diversity of our cast, and the outstanding ratio of women to men.
For four weeks we performed the play at a historic assembly hall in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The building's vaulted ceilings, universal lighting, and stained glass helped evoke Shakespeare's Messina. Yet we allowed our costumes to suggest the colors, cuts, and silhouettes of modern war.
In the course of the original production Thinkery & Verse toured to Manhattan and provided a free performance for military veterans at Bedlam's outreach program. We then toured to a rural Pennsylvania farmhouse and offered a second free performance for military veterans and their families.
Military veterans (especially women vets) responded well to the play's themes of forgiveness and the mutability of the human heart, as well as the baggage of gender roles and the slightly manic feeling that comes with having survived a military campaign. All of these issues speak to soldiers in a way that is loud and clear.
We're proud of this production, and look forward to sharing it with new audiences in 2018 and beyond!