Image inspired by Banksy's "Mobile Lovers" 

Photography: Tassou Amerikanos

Much Ado About Not(h)ing

by William Shakespeare

Adapted and directed by Kelly Wilson

September 19-22, 2018, Newstead College Auditorium

Original music by Alex Loveless, award winning composer, lyricist and lecturer at the London College of Music, and Scott Howland, MA Text and Performance graduate from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Awarded a high distinction for Kelly Wilson’s Master’s dissertation production in July 2017 at RADA. The adaptation retains the original Shakespearean text, while modifying some dramatic situations, language and characters to reflect a contemporary, 21st century digital society.

Cast:

Joan Nicola Don, Pedro’s half-sister, working in military intelligence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lauren Neal

Pedro Charles Don, army lieutenant, Leonato’s godson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . James Parker

Benedick Howland, sergeant in Pedro’s platoon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aaron Beck

Claudio Parr, corporal in Pedro’s platoon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kevin Vong 

Leonato Elliott, Mayor of Launceston . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Callum Westwood 

Ursula Levinson, Leonato’s sister, married to Sean . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Phoebe Wheatley

Beatrice Taylor, Leonato’s niece, cousin to Hero . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Kate Dakin

Hero Elliott-Campbell, Leonato's daughter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Laura Eastley

Sean Levinson, soldier in Afghanistan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Nathaniel Wood

Borachio Moss, infatuated with Joan, gamer and caterer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Antonio Zanchetta

Margaret Jeffery, maid for Leonato’s household . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rose Johnson

                                                                                                                                                    Natalie Gaffney

Artistic Team:

Original Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alex Loveless 

                                                                                                                                                     Scott Howland

Assistant Director (digital performance) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Caitlin McCarthy

Choreographer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Melissa Wimmer

Piano Accompaniment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Tomas Webster

Violin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Caitlin McCarthy

Vocal Coaches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Caitlin McCarthy

                                                                                                                                                    Melissa Rogers

Lighting Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mark Smith

                                                                                                                                                         Sean Wilson

Projectionist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Kelly Wilson

Ticket Sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Simone Rigby

                                                                                                                                                         Sean Wilson

Ushering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Simone Rigby

                                                                                                                                                      Isabella Rigby

History:

Much Ado About Nothing is thought to have been written in 1598, as Shakespeare was approaching the middle of his career. The play is generally considered one of Shakespeare's best comedies because it combines robust hilarity with solemn meditations on shame, honour, the nature of love and forgiveness and the human power to change and to choose. 

 

When viewed through a contemporary lens, this play seems to be inspired by one alternative title: Much Ado About Noting. During the English Renaissance, ‘noting’ (meaning rumour or overhearing) sounded very similar to ‘nothing’, used in the title of the play. It’s through noting that Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into professing their love for each other and by founding his belief on nothing, Claudio is tricked into refusing to marry Hero. Much of what the characters take note of in this play is based on assorted bits of nothing. This word play has inspired the unusual title for this production, Much Ado About Not(h)ing, the use of the parenthesis indicating that the ‘h’ in the word ‘nothing’ can be retained or deleted: noting or nothing.

 

Synopsis:

Joan Don and her half-brother, Pedro Don, have just returned from a six month deployment in Afghanistan. Ancient grudge has broken to new mutiny upon the recent death of their father, from whom Joan has been estranged since childhood. In response to his guilt-ridden father’s last request, Pedro is attempting to build a relationship with his half-sister Joan. Meanwhile, Pedro’s godfather, Mayor of Launceston Leonato Elliott, tries to support his godson through this time of grief and reconciliation by inviting him and Joan, along with Pedro’s band of brothers from his platoon, Claudio and Benedick, to a welcome home celebration at his house with his daughter Hero, niece Beatrice and sister Ursula, who is waiting to hear from her husband, Sean, who has been injured in Afghanistan.

Director’s Interpretation:

It is intriguing to observe the connections between the turmoil caused by the events of this play and the evolution of social media. Frequent ‘noting’ of social media and technology is the root of some troubles that people experience in their relationships today, and is reflected in the obstacles between the characters in the play. This performance explores what we, as a 21st century society, take most note of: the people and events that occur around us in the ‘mortal world’, or the ‘digital world’ that we access through our computer screens or mobile phones. 

 

With this concept in mind, mobile devices are an integral element of the performance, inviting audience members to choose between viewing the performance presented by the actors onstage or the digital performance that they can access through Facebook on their mobile phones (or a little of both), thus actively immersing the audience in the dilemma this production endeavours to explore. Digital projection, movement and dance are also incorporated into the performance to present visually elements of Shakespeare’s text, as well as music to heighten moments of emotional joy or turmoil by converting selected Shakespearean text into lyrics for original music, written by Alex Loveless and Scott Howland. This production not only produces an intriguing, contemporary performance of a well-loved Shakespeare comedy, but also provides an exciting and innovative way to explore the impact of social media on 21st century society and our relationships with those we love.  

Photography: Tassou Amerikanos
Music Composers

Alex Loveless

Alex studied at London College of Music, University of West London, RADA & Birkbeck, University of London. He has written and composed a number of works for theatre including adaptations of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Booker award-winning The Remains of the Day (Evening Standard’s Critics’ Choice / Time Out’s Best Theatre This Month September 2010) and Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Alex’s work has been performed around the world at venues including Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Duchess Theatre, Royal Academy of Music, and on BBC Radio 4. He is the recipient of two Arts Council England composers’ bursaries, a Vivian Ellis Prize for most promising newcomer, the Howard Goodall Award for composition, and is a professional writer associate of and reader for Mercury Musical Developments. Alex’s work is published by Samuel French Ltd, Palgrave Macmillan and London College of Music. Alex has taught, and given workshops and master classes at a number of universities and conservatoires. He wrote and leads the BA Acting, Writing and Directing degree course at London College of Music.

Scott Howland

Scott began acting at an early age, inspiring him to become a member of the National Youth Theatre at 17 and perform in several shows at the Laban Theatre in Greenwich. He trained in contemporary, street and breakdance at Dancecity in Newcastle, as well as having a grade 8 singing qualification and playing grade 6 guitar and drums. After training in performing arts at Durham College and then in Manchester, Scott completed a masters at RADA where he studied writing as well as acting and composed an original song for Benedick in 2017 when he was the first actor to take on the role in this adaptation of Much Ado About Not(h)ing. Since then, Scott has written and starred in his own play, Nothing to Perform, which earned 5 stars at the 2017 Camden Fringe Festival. MEIWES/BRANDES, his second self-written and performed piece, premiered at the Tristan Bates Theatre in early 2018 as part of their inaugural John Thaw Initiative. Scott was also a member of the touring ensemble of Antic Disposition’s Henry V at the end of 2018, playing the roles of Nym, Westmoreland and Williams. His third play, Play 2, was performed for the first time in August 2018 at The Cockpit after a week of research and development, and it was presented at the Actor’s Centre on February 8-9, 2019.

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