ABOUT THE PLAY
Much Ado About Nothing
By William Shakespeare
Additional Text by Erin Shields
Directed by Chris Abraham
House Program for Much Ado About Nothing
Grade Recommendation 7+
Please see the show page for a detailed audience advisory.
Much Ado About Nothing has been an audience favourite for centuries. Brimming with wit, romance and pageantry-there is a masked ball and a wedding-Shakespeare's beloved romantic comedy engages the heart and the mind, posing serious questions about love and honour while trusting in its audience to craft their own answers.
The war is over, the battles won, and Don Pedro and his brothers in arms follow a leisurely route home. When they are invited to spend a month at the estate of Leonato, the governor of Messina, the promise of fine wine, good food and friendly banter is too good to pass up. Soon one of the guests, Claudio, is smitten with Leonato's daughter Hero, while another, the avowed bachelor Benedick, triggers a merry war of wits with Hero's cousin, Beatrice. Hero is quick to return Claudio's affections, and even Beatrice and Benedick seem to be falling under love's sway. But Don Pedro's half-brother, Don John, is so plagued by jealousy and bitterness that he tricks Claudio into believing that Hero has cheated on him. Plots and counter-plots are hatched, and with a little help from their friends, both couples may just make it to the chapel on time.
The language in Much Ado About Nothing provides an excellent introduction to the Bard's work. Such comic tropes as the overheard conversation, the case of mistaken identity, and the cynical bachelor who secretly pines for love will be familiar anyone who has ever watched a romantic comedy or classic TV sitcom. Director Chris Abraham's vision for Much Ado About Nothing retains the play's buoyant humour while highlighting Shakespeare's revolutionary (for the time) interrogation of patriarchal conventions and gender roles. Codes of sexual morality and honour are unfairly placed on the women's shoulders. Even the play's male villain, Don John, is marginalized for being "illegitimate," his suspect lineage a permanent stain on his honour. The rigidly gendered world of Much Ado About Nothing is both shocking and familiar to contemporary audiences, but Hero's resourcefulness, strength and integrity make her a hero for our times.
- Global Competencies:
- Citizenship, Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Metacognition, Self-Awareness
- Grade 8
- The Arts (Drama, Music, Visual Arts)
- Grade 9-12
- The Arts
- Health and Physical Education
- Grades 11-12
- The Arts
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Communication and Wit
- Honour and Chastity
- Jealousy, Slander and Humiliation
- Love as a Force of Nature
- Marriage and Power
- Maturity and Transformation
- Mistaken Identity
- Perception and Reality
- The Performativity of Love
- Power and Gender
- Respect, Pride and Reputation
- Rumours and Deception