Single-play Focus

Single focus: Much Ado About Nothing

Speakers: L. Peter Callender, Lisa Tromovitch, Sarah Enloe, Chris Edwards

L.Peter Callender: African American Shakespeare Company

• Budget is issue. Do the production with as little $ as possible.

• Much Ado is the largest game of telephone

• Set in 1945

• His set design

o Ella Fitzgerald music

o Quick views of characters to give essence of setting (Hero with vintage Vogue

magazine, Beatrice drinking a beer)

o Ballroom dancing all throughout

o Quickness of text a la ‘His Girl Friday’

o Recycled windows from his own house to use as set, everything on stage can be seen

through a window.

o Constellations everywhere on the stage to show the stars.

Lisa Tromovitch: Livermore Shakespeare Festival

• Slide Show production photos

• Destination Theatre- Livermore Shakes is outdoors at a winery

• Works mostly with early text but adaptable

• Set in 1860. Historical battle near Messina around unification of Italy

• Explore trans media with audience

o Victorian home is backdrop of the shows, influence the design of show

o 5 days of table work, got rid of first read thru seemed to be waste of time, mostly actors

performing for each other.

o In Folio, Leonato says ‘I will stop your mouth’, in other versions changed to Benedick’s

line. Played with it three ways, Leonato, Benedick, and then Beatrice say it. Decided to

have both Benedick and Beatrice say it together as a bridge to modern audiences.

o Really show the status

o Decided that bastard is older brother, Don Pedro is still trying to be friends with all

o Via Twitter (Where is Dogberry? Where is Borachio?)

o Posters in neighborhoods Where is Dogberry? With hashtags and scans directing folks

to go to participating restaurants for next clue.

Sarah Enloe: American Shakespeare Center

• Directed by Ben Curns, worked for company since 2001

• “We do it with the lights on”- ASC practices

• Rehearsal process

o Universal lighting

o Doubling (Dogberry/Antonio, Margaret/Conrad) 11 actors

o Contemporary music to the time

o Audience on stage (gallants)

o 2.5-3week rehearsal

o Actors are contracted to be off book at first rehearsal

o First rehearsal is run through without director as if putting on the show

o Day 2 actors in costume of what they see as their character, performing the show for the

director. Then the director gets ideas and may keep what works, change what doesn’t

• Set in 70’s, guys coming back from Vietnam

o Approximately 1hr rehearsal for 100 lines.

o Music played acoustically by actors. “in the navy”, ABBA, etc.

o Benedick hides in plain site among the ‘gallants’ onstage

• Tour Sept-Nov, Jan-April in rep with two other shows. Back in house April-June

Chris Edwards: directing for Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival

• Get away from the big 5 of touring shows (R&J, Julius Caesar, etc) so chose Much Ado

• Touring production. Broad scope of venues and demographic.

• Set modern day in high school, then changed to college (Messina college)

• Live streaming from the schools. 2 ipads and a screen.

o Want a child or audience member to see themselves in the play to help connect

o Don Pedro was star athlete. Beatrice was also an athlete in her own right. Etc.

o Beatrice played Ursula (was a pre-recorded phone call msg).

o Dogberry and Verges were school security.

o Margaret (Hero) and Borachio was a you tube video. Show public shame of Hero

o Party was a toga party complete with red cups.

o News at the time regarding online personal identity, and how social media can affect


o Original idea was to live stream the guys coming back from football game in the

parking lot with ipads, etc. Ran into network issues on the sites.

o Recreated facebook pages.

o Created discussion about social media and how it might change how we present

ourselves. Online persona different than live persona. More free online.

Open Questions/Comments :

Portraying the recently ended war:

• Historical issues with Spanish trying to taking over Italy.

• Metaphor of war, not belabor the point of Italians for US audiences

• The play isn’t about the war.

• Construct of the ‘team’, something went off in the locker room for Chris’ production.

• Shakespeare is vague about the war

Script Challenges

Lisa asked how the directors dealt with the long speech Don Pedro gives after the challenge of Benedick

to Claudio. Lisa found it awkward and cut it at the very end of rehearsal process. L.Peter cut it, ASC

production trimmed it, and Chris made Don Pedro be a bystander during the challenge to explain why he

is trying to diffuse the situation.

Letter writing, Lisa showed to audience them writing and show the characters finding the letters. L. Peter

decided that Beatrice and Benedick really knew they were being ‘played’, and actually manifested it, with

the community thinking they brought them together.


Cross gender casting. Some used a female ‘watch’. Lisa used Balthazar as female, and had Prince and

Balthazar get together at the end. Is it problematic set it later than 1940 because of the question of Hero’s

virginity? Chris used a public shaming as the big issue. Magnificent hypocrisy.


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