Much Ado About Nothing

From the Dramaturg Shakespeare commonly used plots that his audience would have been familiar with. Much Ado About Nothing , written in 1598, certainly falls into that category. The Claudio-Hero storyline comes from an Italian work, “Orlando Furioso” by Ludovico Ariosto, written in 1532, and the Beatrice-Benedick plot came from “The Book of the Courtier” by Baldassare Castiglione, also Italian, written in 1528. The audiences of Elizabethan England were familiar with classic works because of the resurgence of education during that era. We chose to set Much Ado About Nothing in Charleston, South Carolina, at the end of WWII. It is a historic city with military ties. Charleston played an integral part in both the American Revolution and the Civil War. Fort Sumter, a fort just off the coast of Charleston, was built following the War of 1812 and was the site of the beginning of the Civil War. Charleston also has roots in the “Old South” that characterized the Antebellum era. Elements of the social hierarchy and traditions of the “Old South” can be seen throughout the play. You may be asking why we feel we can take Shakespeare’s work out of the context of Elizabethan England. We’re able to do this because even Shakespeare didn’t perform his plays in period dress. Shakespeare performed his plays in what was modern dress for them. They used the hand-me-downs from the aristocracy to costume the plays, no matter what time or location they were written in. The idea that Shakespearean plays should be costumed in an Elizabethan time period was a Victorian idea that numerous theatrical productions have stuck with. — Kayla Renee Peterson , Dramaturg Please silence all pagers, cell phones, and wristwatch alarms. As a courtesy to the actors and those around you, do not text or instant message during the performance. PLAY ONWORDS , a study and discussion reference resource, has been prepared by the production dramaturg and is available without charge at the concessions booth in the theatre lobby. Funding for PLAY ON WORDS is provided by Alpha Psi Omega, the Cedarville University chapter of the national honorary theatre society. These extensively researched guides are provided in order to increase understanding of each play Cedarville University presents for all who share our passion for theatre.