Southeast Missouri State University student publication

“Much Ado About Nothing” creates new understanding of Shakespeare

Saturday, October 1, 2022

SEMO’s take on Shakespeare’s romantic comedy “Much Ado About Nothing” premiered Sept. 28 and is playing until Oct. 2 in Bedell Performance Hall in the River Campus Cultural Arts Center. “Much Ado About Nothing” tells the story of a humorous romance which unites family and lovers through chaos and deception.

Director of intimacy and fight choreography Bart Williams said some of the details were changed from the original Shakespeare play, such as the setting being California wine country in 1974. Williams said the original text was only changed in instances that made the dialogue more clear.

“I also added music because a lot of people don’t realize that Shakespeare is a musical,” Williams said. “So we have a student composer, Michael Reitano, who has written the music, and because it’s the seventies, we’re looking at late-motown as the reference.”

One of the biggest challenges for the cast was learning to pronounce and perform Shakespearean English. Acting sophomore and Antonia actress Kennedee Nash said learning Shakespeare is like learning a new language and requires constant intent.

“When it comes to Shakespeare, to be able to say your lines, you have to listen to the line before because you have to have a reason for everything you say,” Nash said.

Acting junior and Norwegian exchange student Haakon Andrefevang plays Friar Francis. Andrefevang said learning Shakespeare as a non-native English speaker was challenging, but he found similarities to his native language in the structure that helped him.

Theater senior and stage manager Kyra Ankrom said although people often associate Shakespeare with not being able to understand the language, it’s really just normal people in normal life.

“I hope for the audience to realize that Shakespeare isn’t a big scary thing. That it really is ‘Oh, that's so-and-so from Walmart,’ or ‘This character is so much like my neighbor,’” Ankrom said. “I feel like we do a good job of representing those real life characters.”