The Yale Dramatic Coalition debuts “Much Ado About Nothing”
This weekend, the Yale Dramatic Coalition's reproduction of the 16th century play that defined the genre of Romantic Comedy is showing in the Morse-Stiles Crescent.
Courtesy of Melany Perez
On March 2, the Yale Dramatic Coalition debuted their modern take on William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”.
The YDC sets their interpretation in the present day, presenting a whole new set of challenges to producer William An ‘24, director Kassandra Haakman ‘24, and their actors. This week, actors have been putting in at least four hours for rehearsal every day, according to Willaim Barbee ‘26, who plays Claudio in the YDC’s production.
“At a basic level, people should come see Much Ado because it’s fun,” says Everett Tolbert-Schwartz’26. “It’s a lighthearted, ridiculous comedy, and we all need some more of that nowadays. But it’s also really cool to see how similar Much Ado is to modern rom-coms, and how little humor has changed after so many years.”
“Much Ado About Nothing” examines romance, and — like most Shakespearian comedies — deals in tangled schemes, miscommunication and love both young and old. Beatrice and Benedick, two comparatively older singles who have lost faith in love, banter relentlessly, matching each other quip for quip.
In a manipulative attempt at match-making, Benedick and Beatrice’s friends trick them into falling in love —- they allow Benedick to overhear that Beatrice is supposedly in love with him and allow Beatrice to overhear the same.
“Many of the situations that the characters find themselves in—particularly the initially-disastrous romance between Hero and Claudio, which is reliant upon customs of chastity and virginity of Elizabethan England—cannot be accurately captured in a modern setting,” said Barbee. “Thus, the director and actors have made choices that attempt to shift the way certain scenes are constructed and framed without changing any dialogue so that they may be more translatable to our own era.”
While they unknowingly fall in love with each other, the young Hero and Claudio are betrothed and madly in love until they are interrupted by a Shakespearean miscommunication: Claudio thinks Hero has an affair with someone else the night before their wedding. During the ceremony, Claudio confronts his fiancée, viciously accusing her of adultery, and she faints. She’s pronounced dead. She isn’t. Foibles ensue.
This accusation comes with different baggage in the 21st century, and Alina Kramp ’23, who plays Hero, had to reckon with this as an actor.
“For me, as I tackled my role as Hero, one of my biggest challenges was figuring out how she comes to forgive Claudio after being betrayed at the altar — it might have made sense in the Elizabethan Era but it was a head scratcher for a Gen Z actor,” Kramp told the News. “One of the solutions Kassandra and I came up with is ‘bimbo-fying’ the usually soft-spoken, gentle Hero, which I think will be funny for audiences to see. I hope I’ve been able to do Hero justice.”
“Much Ado About Nothing” will run from March 2, 2023 through March 4, 2023 at the Morse-Stiles Crescent Underground Theatre.