Conservatory showcases director’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

Written By Rosalie Anthony, Staff Writer

Photo by John Altdorfer
Morgan Snowden as Beatrice (left) and Evans Malkin as Benedick (right) performing at the Playhouse in ‘Much Ado About Nothing.’ The play took place last weekend and will have another showing this weekend.

The original playwright, William Shakespeare, composed “Much Ado About Nothing” in the 1600s. In 1996, Steven Wilson, director and alumni of the Conservatory of Performing Arts (COPA) adapted the show to the time of World War II, 1944 specifically, from Italy’s perspective. 

“Shakespeare typically involves a lot of verse, but ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is an adaptation, so our director Steven Wilson adapted the script to make the show more concise and also contemporize the show slightly,” sophomore acting major and main character, Hero, Bailey Wilson said.

According to Anthony Giancola, junior acting major, Assistant Director and Dramaturg, Dramaturgy notes in the beginning of the program, during and around 1944, Italy surrendered to the Allied powers and declared war on the Nazi powers. A Dramaturg’s role is making sure the adaptation is staying as true to the original and/or adapted time period as possible. 

For example, the baseball theme throughout the play and on the cover of the program alludes to the relationship the American and Italian troops made through the American troops introducing baseball to their culture. 

“Much Ado About Nothing” ran this past weekend, Nov. 8 through 10, and will run this weekend, Nov. 15 through 17.

Kaylin Blaney, senior BFA theatre production major with a concentration in stage management, was the stage manager for “Much Ado About Nothing.” Her job was to keep track of all the moving parts that come together to make the show possible. For example, her job entails making sure communication between all designers for the show is cohesive and that everyone’s on the same page. 

“I feel excited,” Blaney said of this being her final show before graduating and her capstone project. “This has been a dream to work on, and I feel really blessed that this is my last hurrah.”

An aspect of the show that received an abundance of praise was the set design. Towers, 13 feet high made of steel, were manipulated by the actors and crew throughout the show transforming the stage from scene to scene, along with projections on the set that helped immerse the audience members into a new chapter of the story. 

Photo submitted by John Altdorfer
Bailey Wilson as Hero (left) and Reyna Guerra as Ursula (right) performing on stage as another character peeps their head around the corner.

“We have to carefully put them together in the right order, because where they are also matters to the set,” Bailey Hobbs said. Hobbs is sophomore theatrical production major with a concentration in technical design and management and crew chief on “Much Ado About Nothing.”

“Then we have to lock all of them together before the actors can walk across them,” he said 

The show is well-supported by its ensemble. In the beginning, they help set the scene for the play, and throughout they provide context for various scenes. 

“The film screen [in the beginning] really helped you dive into the beginning,” Emily MacIntyre, junior public relations and advertising major, said. “It was very good at zoning in and taking a moment to think and anticipate.” 

The show’s opening weekend was well received and there is still opportunity for students to see it from Nov. 15 through 17.