With Shakespeare spanning many millennia, college students are left wondering – why is the work of such an old, elevated guy being produced by a young, vibrant campus? Directed by James Tompkins, the Shakespearian comedy, “Much Ado about Nothing,” will be performed at the Thrust Theater on Belknap Campus Nov. 14 through the 18 – but play attendees may be in for a surprise. Although the play was written a few hundred years ago, some more modern adjustments have been made to bring the performance to life.
“Everybody is really alive and we use a lot of modern day technology. Everyone has a cell phone. We text people,” said Jocelyn Matsuo, one of the three actors who will be receiving their Masters in Fine Arts after this performance. Matsuo, who plays Beatrice in the show, will be performing as one of the three thesis roles in this rendition of “Much Ado about Nothing.”
“It’s about gossip and game playing, vulnerability and falling in love. But it’s definitely a comedy. People are constantly trying to think of ways to manipulate the situation,” Matsuo said.
Set on the island of Sicily in Messina, Italy, “Much Ado about Nothing” is a story of love, trickery and deception. And despite the misunderstanding that some people may have about Shakespeare’s work, thinking the language and overall concepts are too elevated for them, Jake Beamer wants to settle that dispute. “The language is still there, though. It’s still heightened, it’s still in prose, just standard text, but there are a few sections when the play takes a lyrical turn…it’s pretty straight forward,” said Beamer, who plays Benedick, another thesis role. “There’s dancing, and singing, and double weddings, lots of confetti, and some bits of raunchy love-making.”
“You’ll see Beatrice and Benedick – they have tough outer shells, but you see that begin to crack; you see their vulnerability. This is a different take on the Shakespeare U of L has been doing for the past 20 years,” said Matsuo.
“People can be intimidated when they hear Shakespeare,” she continued, “but don’t be. Not only is this hip and slightly modern in the dress and technology, but it’s really fun and really funny. We’re really excited about it.”
The Department of Theater Arts presents “Much Ado about Nothing” Nov. 14-18 at 8 p.m., with a matinee on Nov. 18 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 for students, faculty, staff and senior citizens, and are $15 for the public. The Thrust Theatre is located at 2314 South Floyd Street.
Photo courtesy louisville.edu/theatrearts