Category: Much Ado About Nothing

“If there was ever a play that questions gender… this is it.”In…

“If there was ever a play that questions gender… this is it.”

In this Q&A, Director Michael Oakley discusses his upcoming production of Much Ado About Nothing, which is this year’s Playing Shakespeare 2018 with Deutsche Bank – our annual performances for schools, families and those new to Shakespeare.


The first ever Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank production was Much Ado About Nothing and that was your first professional gig, wasn’t it?

Yes, I was Assistant Director on it. It’s a play that means an awful lot to me. I remember the response from the students was incredibly raw and truthful. It was thrilling.

How are you going about preparing for this production?

The Globe space is different from anywhere else and it marries well with this play because the audience are sometimes put in a position where they are more in the know than the characters on stage. In order for that to work to its best advantage and create tension in the scenes, you have to have a strong relationship with your audience in the set up. The Globe is the ideal place for this interaction to be fully realised as it creates such a unique experience between actor and audience.

These performances last around an hour and a half. What has been your approach to cutting the text?

The play is easier to cut than others – there’s an Elizabethan rule that Beatrice and Benedick rather brilliantly embody, where you never give just one example, you always give four or five to illustrate your point. When you take some of that away, the story becomes much more direct. 

In a play about love, why do you think there’s so much prose?

It’s often said that verse exists only when the characters are telling the truth, but in the one scene that’s entirely in verse in this play, the characters are lying! I think there’s a sense in this play that the characters don’t always know how to cope with their feelings and that might be why there’s more prose. This gives more danger to the language because you don’t know when people are telling the truth and sometimes they don’t know when they’re telling the truth themselves – there’s constant misinterpretation and deceit. The only time Beatrice ever speaks in verse is this rather beautiful moment where she’s heard a few home truths and she asks, ‘What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?’ and she’s devastated about that, and that’s so illuminating and wonderful. 

This use of language as a sort of protective armour is why I feel this is such a good play for young people. We self-preserve and self-project the image that we want other people to see. This focus on how you are perceived by your peers and how they respond to you is an important theme for the characters in this play. It’s only when the characters realise that actually telling the truth, and that being open with each other is the better way to live – that they grow up and move on. 

I think that’s what Shakespeare always does in his plays, especially in the comedies, he offers his characters’ mistakes as examples and invites us to respond to them and recognise ourselves in them.

I know you’re particularly interested in the Hero and Claudio relationship…

The main narrative of the text is the appalling deceit of Hero by Claudio which has the most dreadful consequences for everyone. I think it’s important that we build up to that moment and then look at the effects of it. Hero becomes a very different character when she’s not with her father – she becomes much more in command. In some scenes, she’s as witty and vivacious as Beatrice, but she has a father who she has to please. 

Claudio undertakes one of the biggest emotional shifts in the play, and I’d argue, one of the biggest emotional shifts in the whole canon. In The Winter’s Tale, Leontes (who’s like Claudio ten years down the line) talks about his ‘re-creation.’ He recognises the need to see things differently after the crisis he’s faced and I think Claudio has to do that too. 

For me, one of the most telling lines in the whole play is when Claudio finds out Hero isn’t dead and says, ‘Sweet Hero, now thy image doth appear in the rare semblance that I lov’d it first.’ He still hasn’t grown up and it’s not until he sees her, and not his image of her, that he can change. 

How has the time that we live in and this particular audience influenced your work on the play?

We’re talking more about gender now and if there was ever a play that questions gender – this is it. The world of social media makes us much more aware of what people think and say about us now too. On Instagram we select the image we want to project of ourselves for the world to see.

And it’s a world where reputations can be ruined in a moment…

Absolutely. Look at Snapchat and the problems there are in schools when people post comments about images which can be devastating and destructive. Reputation, honour and our sense of self-worth and how they are linked to our image is what this play questions and explores. Part of my job is to extract the thematic strands that make it more immediate and direct for a younger audience today. Some of those strands have gained an urgency today that they didn’t have ten years ago.

Tell us about your ideas for how music will feature.

Music is really important in this play. It’s referred to in the text so many times. The last line, ‘Strike up, pipers,’ is key and the two songs in the play are very important musical moments. The first, ‘Sigh no more, ladies’, could be the catchphrase of the whole play. The music at the tomb when Claudio goes through his ‘reformation’ should be very emotive and visceral. Shakespeare knows that sometimes words aren’t enough and that music can move us in a different way.

What questions are you hoping the audience will take away from this production?

Much Ado About Nothing is always called a comedy and I think it’s wonderfully funny but it also very nearly becomes a tragedy. In the final scene, the play forgives Claudio, but whether as an audience member we go for it or not is something I would love everyone to walk out asking themselves. Hero forgives Claudio, could I? Shakespeare often presents difficult questions and doesn’t always make it an easy ride for his audience.

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Pictured: Tom Davey, Olly Fox, Charlyne Francis. Tyler Fayose, Emilio Doorgasingh, Rachel Winters, Etta Murfitt, Michael Oakley, Charlotte Mills & Fiona Hampton in rehearsals. Photography: Cesare de Giglio.

Read more about Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank

See rehearsal photos

Gender, trickery and double standards (an article on Medium)

Playing Shakespeare 2018: In RehearsalRehearsals are underway…

Playing Shakespeare 2018: In Rehearsal

Rehearsals are underway for Playing Shakespeare 2018 with Deutsche Bank.

This version of Much Ado About Nothing is created for those new to Shakespeare, young people, families and schools. 

Performances start on 23 February.

Photography by Cesare de Giglio

Find more photos and information on Facebook

Playing Shakespeare 2018: Cast Announced We’re delighted to…


Philip Correia and Emilio Doorgasingh


Tyler Fayose


Charlyne Francis


Aruhan Galieva


Fiona Hampton


Ben Mansfield


Jordan Mifsud


Charlotte Mills


Rachel Winters

Playing Shakespeare 2018: Cast Announced 

We’re delighted to announce the cast for Playing Shakespeare 2018 with Deutsche Bank, Much Ado About Nothing.

Philip Correia (Claudio), Emilio Doorgasingh (Leonato), Tyler Fayose (Don Pedro), Charlyne Francis (Donna Joan), Aruhan Galieva (Hero), Fiona Hampton (Beatrice), Ben Mansfield (Benedick), Jordan Mifsud (Borachio), Charlotte Mills (Dogberry/ Pastor Francis), Rachel Winters (Margaret/Verges).

Tickets are on sale for family performances.

Playing Shakespeare 2018: Cast Announced We’re delighted to…


Philip Correia and Emilio Doorgasingh


Tyler Fayose


Charlyne Francis


Aruhan Galieva


Fiona Hampton


Ben Mansfield


Jordan Mifsud


Charlotte Mills


Rachel Winters

Playing Shakespeare 2018: Cast Announced 

We’re delighted to announce the cast for Playing Shakespeare 2018 with Deutsche Bank, Much Ado About Nothing.

Philip Correia (Claudio), Emilio Doorgasingh (Leonato), Tyler Fayose (Don Pedro), Charlyne Francis (Donna Joan), Aruhan Galieva (Hero), Fiona Hampton (Beatrice), Ben Mansfield (Benedick), Jordan Mifsud (Borachio), Charlotte Mills (Dogberry/ Pastor Francis), Rachel Winters (Margaret/Verges).

Tickets are on sale for family performances.

Playing Shakespeare: Family PerformancesOn Saturday 25 November…

Playing Shakespeare: Family Performances

On Saturday 25 November 2017 booking opens for our family performances of Playing Shakespeare.

Our Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank productions are created especially for young people and are an opportunity for all the family to attend a full-scale, fast-paced 90 minute performance of Shakespeare.

Our production for 2018 iss Much Ado About Nothing, the perfect introduction to Shakespeare for families. Packed with laughter, intrigue, and tempestuous love affairs, it will leave children, teenagers and adults alike buzzing with the thrill of live theatre.

Thanks to the support of Deutsche Bank tickets (ranging from £5 – £15) are available for the following family performances at a subsidised rate, and these go on sale 25 November!

Saturday 24 February 6.00pm
Wednesday 28 February 7.00pm
Saturday 3 March 6.00pm
Saturday 10 March 2.00pm & 6.00pm
Saturday 17 March 2.00pm & 6.00pm
Tuesday 20 March 7.00pm

Tickets available 25 Nov >>

Find out more about Playing Shakespeare >>

Playing Shakespeare: Family PerformancesOn Saturday 25 November…

Playing Shakespeare: Family Performances

On Saturday 25 November 2017 booking opens for our family performances of Playing Shakespeare.

Our Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank productions are created especially for young people and are an opportunity for all the family to attend a full-scale, fast-paced 90 minute performance of Shakespeare.

Our production for 2018 iss Much Ado About Nothing, the perfect introduction to Shakespeare for families. Packed with laughter, intrigue, and tempestuous love affairs, it will leave children, teenagers and adults alike buzzing with the thrill of live theatre.

Thanks to the support of Deutsche Bank tickets (ranging from £5 – £15) are available for the following family performances at a subsidised rate, and these go on sale 25 November!

Saturday 24 February 6.00pm
Wednesday 28 February 7.00pm
Saturday 3 March 6.00pm
Saturday 10 March 2.00pm & 6.00pm
Saturday 17 March 2.00pm & 6.00pm
Tuesday 20 March 7.00pm

Tickets available 25 Nov >>

Find out more about Playing Shakespeare >>

Playing Shakespeare is back!We’re pleased to announce that our…

Playing Shakespeare is back!

We’re pleased to announce that our 2018 Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank will be Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and will run from 23 February – 21 March. 

There are 20,000 FREE tickets available for state secondary schools in London and Birmingham.

‘It is a massive responsibility introducing thousands of young people to Shakespeare’, says the show’s Director Michael Oakley. ‘These are important stories. They raise so many issues relevant to young people. Much Ado About Nothing invites us to challenge our preconceptions about image and the way we present ourselves to each other and society. Particularly relevant in the world today, that in our search for truth, common sense and instinct should prevail as we learn from mistakes and forgive.’

image

Created for 11 to 18 year olds, Much Ado About Nothing will retain Shakespeare’s text and be edited to around 100 minutes, and there will be a select number of Saturday performances for families.

Since 2007, as part of this partnership with Deutsche Bank, we’ve given away over 170,000 free tickets to students to see a show here. For many, this annual project sees their first experience of live theatre.

There will also be a range of student workshops and teacher CPD opportunities available as well as free online resources to support GCSE and A Level curricula.

image

London and Birmingham state secondary schools can apply for tickets online now.

All other schools can apply for subsidised tickets online now.

Performances for families and the general public go on sale 25 November and are available online.

We look forward to welcoming you to our theatre in 2018!

Playing Shakespeare is back!We’re pleased to announce that our…

Playing Shakespeare is back!

We’re pleased to announce that our 2018 Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank will be Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and will run from 23 February – 21 March. 

There are 20,000 FREE tickets available for state secondary schools in London and Birmingham.

‘It is a massive responsibility introducing thousands of young people to Shakespeare’, says the show’s Director Michael Oakley. ‘These are important stories. They raise so many issues relevant to young people. Much Ado About Nothing invites us to challenge our preconceptions about image and the way we present ourselves to each other and society. Particularly relevant in the world today, that in our search for truth, common sense and instinct should prevail as we learn from mistakes and forgive.’

image

Created for 11 to 18 year olds, Much Ado About Nothing will retain Shakespeare’s text and be edited to around 100 minutes, and there will be a select number of Saturday performances for families.

Since 2007, as part of this partnership with Deutsche Bank, we’ve given away over 170,000 free tickets to students to see a show here. For many, this annual project sees their first experience of live theatre.

There will also be a range of student workshops and teacher CPD opportunities available as well as free online resources to support GCSE and A Level curricula.

image

London and Birmingham state secondary schools can apply for tickets online now.

All other schools can apply for subsidised tickets online now.

Performances for families and the general public go on sale 25 November and are available online.

We look forward to welcoming you to our theatre in 2018!

Much Ado About Nothing: In PhotosMuch Ado About Nothing is now…


Company in performance


Martin Marquez (Leonato) and Lucy Brandon (child soldier)


Matthew Needham (Benedick)


Sarah Seggari (Margaret) and Ammara Niwaz (Ursula)


Ewan Wardrop (Dog Berry), Martin Marquez (Leonato), Anya Chalotra (Hero) and Steve John Shepherd (Don Pedro)


Ashley Campbell (Conrade) and Jo Dockery (Juana)


Matthew Needham (Benedick) and Beatriz Romilly (Beatrice)


Steve John Shepherd (Don Pedro) and Beatriz Romilly (Beatrice)


Anya Chalotra (Hero)


Company in performance

Much Ado About Nothing: In Photos

Much Ado About Nothing is now playing in the Globe Theatre until Sunday 15 October. 

This classic tale finds an explosive new life as our Associate Director Matthew Dunster pins it against the backdrop of revolutionary Mexico, 1914. 

Take a peek at the action in our trailer

See how the costume designs came to life.

Book tickets

(Image credits: Tristram Kenton) 

New Much Ado About Nothing TrailerYou have until Sunday 15…

New Much Ado About Nothing Trailer

You have until Sunday 15 October to catch Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare’s classic tale of antagonistic romance and madcap humour set in 1914 Mexico.

Buy tickets >>