Much Ado in WWII
Nineteen Luther students, including Tyler Hagy (‘13) and Liz Athas (‘15), present the first Shakespeare play that the Luther Theatre department has done in around ten years, and they plan to do it in style.
Margaret Yapp / Chips
“Much Ado About Nothing” will be performed in the vein of original Shakespeare productions: outdoors with a minimalist set design. Professor of English Mark Muggli served as the dramaturge, a position in theatre that deals mainly with research and development of plays. In this piece he helped with both interpretation of language and staging.
“Our outdoor ‘Much Ado’ performance evokes the adaptability of Renaissance acting troupes, which wandered the countryside and performed in a wide range of venues including great halls, inn courtyards and village greens,” Muggli said. “Presenting a first-ever production in the plaza outside Sampson-Hoffland represents some of the spontaneity and actor-centric verve of Shakespeare’s original stages.”
The play was originally going to be performed in Bentdahl Commons, but the Harvey Wilkins Plaza outside of Sampson-Hoffland better suited the needs of the production.
“The production team felt Bentdahl to be too large for ‘Much Ado,’” Hagy said. “The voice would be easily lost since the space is so open, and sound can go every which way. In the slightly smaller space by Sampson-Hoffland we have a glass wall on one side, which will help contain sound.”
Not only will the outdoor setting harken back to Shakespeare’s open roofed Globe Theater, but it will also allow audiences to watch the play with a backdrop of a setting sun while surrounded by autumn foliage.
Casey DeLima / Chips
“I am extremely excited about the reaction of the audience to the outdoor theater,” Athas said. “Shakespeare was meant to be experienced outside in the open air.”
Luther’s production will be purposefully low tech, for historical integrity, with minimal props and set. It will not be entirely traditional. They will be working with a version of the original play abridged by Muggli.
“I cut the play by about 40%,” Muggli said. “It is considerably shorter, but we cut no scenes or characters.”
It will be set in post World War II at a dinner party. Their take should prove to be interesting for novice and experienced Shakespearian audiences alike.
“Any experience of a great work of art like this makes people grow as both actors and as people,” Muggli said. It makes their own experience of language richer, and it makes them richer by having experienced the dilemmas that the play is about. It is a building experience for them and the audience.”
“Much Ado About Nothing” will be performed October 4, 6, 10 and 11 at 6 p.m. and October 5 at 5:45 p.m. at Harvey Wilkins Plaza, outside Sampson-Hoffland. The show is free with a Luther ID, or $10. Tickets are available at the Box Office.