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Posts Tagged ‘Much Ado about Nothing’

I was speaking with Folger Theatre’s resident Dramaturg, Michele Osherow, this morning as she prepared for an on-camera interview. While catching up, I mentioned that my husband would be working on a performance of Measure for Measure during his first year of graduate school – one of my least favorite plays. Michele replied that Measure for Measure is one of her favorites because it is so messy and unsettling, the same reasons I don’t like it.

Isabella (Karen Peakes), Mark Zeisler (Duke), Measure for Measure, Folger Theatre, 2006. Directed by Aaron Posner. Carol Pratt.

Isabella (Karen Peakes), Mark Zeisler (Duke), Measure for Measure, Folger Theatre, 2006. Directed by Aaron Posner. Carol Pratt.

Michele went on to point out that while her college students express distaste for Measure for Measure or Troilus and Cressida during her class, those complicated and uncomfortable plays are the ones they return to explore in their final papers and presentations. They’re the plays that stick in their minds because there’s so much to explore even as it discomfits us.

My favorite plays tend to contain comic banter. I like how the words intersect and dance around each other, especially out loud, in plays like Much AdoTwelfth Night, and Romeo and Juliet (before it becomes a tragedy). I also enjoy the bumbling comic characters in Midsummer, as you already know, because I feel so close to Shakespeare as a player in those scenes. I enjoy talking about the use of language and the playing with the several meanings of words in performance.

Kate Eastwood Norris (Beatrice), P.J. Sosko (Benedick), Much Ado About Nothing, Folger Theatre, 2005. Directed by Nick Hutchison. Photo: Carol Pratt. Carol Pratt.

Kate Eastwood Norris (Beatrice), P.J. Sosko (Benedick), Much Ado About Nothing, Folger Theatre, 2005. Directed by Nick Hutchison. Photo: Carol Pratt. Carol Pratt.

For Michele, those complicated plays are very close in nature to modern theatrical experiences. They make us question how we feel and what we think about the world we live in – just as Shakespeare’s audience must have felt and thought. Is marriage a reward or a punishment? Is your best friend a good or bad person – are you? Who do you relate to: the villain or the hero – or is there a character you can identify as either role?

This reminded me of several videos in our Teacher to Teacher series – especially ‘Beauty in Difficulty‘ from Kristyn Rosen on plays that will challenge her students. Additionally, there is a whole section of videos related to teachers responding to the question “What is your favorite Shakespeare play to teach?” They cite relatability, good discussions, fun, and playable moments as their best reasons for one play or another.

What is your favorite play to read, see, teach, or talk about?

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Coriolanus Poster

I was fortunate recently to see 10 scenes from Coriolanus, starring and directed by Ralph Fiennes. The presentation at the NY-based Shakespeare Society was part of an informative discussion by David Scott Kasten.

 The film doesn’t officially open until January, but here is the trailer.  In addition to Fiennes, the film stars Vanessa Redgrave as his mother, Volumnia and Jessica Chastain as his wife, Virgilia. Also in the cast are Gerard Butler, Brian Cox, and John Kani.

Also coming soon to a theater near you according to IMDB are a host of Shakespeare-related titles. Here they are:

  •  Much Ado About Nothingdirected by Joss Whedon  was “filmed in just 12 days entirely on location in exotic Santa Monica.”  on the film’s site, director Whedan says, “The text is to me a deconstruction of the idea of love, which is ironic, since the entire production is a love letter – to the text, to the cast, even to the house it’s shot in.” Shot in black & white, the film stars Amy Acker  and Alexis Denisof  as Beatrice and Benedick, features Castle star Nathan Fillion as Dogberry.
  • Messina High also based on Much Ado About Nothing.  It seems that Beatrice and Benedick’s  names have been changed to Bernice and Benny and the “teen comedy” is set in Marin County, California, but not many more details are available yet.
  • Hamlet A.D.D. is probably the strangest film to watch for. According to the film’s Website, “Hamlet is an easily distracted prince who is not quite ready to do the task at hand. Challenged to kill his uncle Claudius by the ghost of his recently dead dad, Hamlet enthusiastically proceeds to do everything but. From practicing stage acting in the 1800s to producing a television drama in the 1950s, from dancing at the discotheque in the 1970s to culinary prankery in the distant future, Hamlet always manages to find something to distract himself from taking revenge for his father’s murder. Shot entirely in front of a green screen, HAMLET A.D.D. features live-action characters in a colorful cartoon world.

Also in pre-production are a new version of Romeo and Juliet starring Hailee Steinfeld as Juliet and Douglas Booth as Romeo and a film simply called Rosaline also starring Steinfeld. According to IMDB, the latter film, based on a novel by Rebecca Searle,  tells the story of a young girl  who is dumped by a guy who immediately falls for another girl with whom he forms a suicide pact. Sound familiar?

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