EVDOL 080 - It All Started Here: Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”
In many ways, Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing can be considered the prototype of today’s romantic screwball comedy. Its plot will likely sound familiar: A love-hate courtship, filled with hilarity and misadventure, turns an unlikely pair into a perfect match. The play’s main characters, Beatrice and Benedick, are expert verbal sparring partners—for the entire play, each gives as good as s/he gets—and the roles have long enticed famous actors. In this class, students will delve into the play’s famous comic set pieces and watch clips from standout productions, such as Kenneth Branagh’s and Joss Whedon’s delightful film versions. Students will also consider Much Ado’s unexpected depths: how daring Shakespeare was in his characterization of Beatrice, a free-speaker filled with sexual desire, two uncommon traits for female characters of the era. Benedick, too, breaks the mold of expected gender behavior when he chooses to believe in a woman’s innocence—and take her side over a man’s. With greater knowledge of the play’s turns, students will be primed to enjoy the 2019 all-Black production in New York’s Central Park (directed Kenny Leon and starring alumna Danielle Brooks as Beatrice), clips of which will be shown in class. Increased appreciation of many modern stage and film rom-coms will also likely follow! Beginners are welcome. It is suggested that students have read or seen at least one-to-two Shakespeare play(s).
Tuesday, July 27
Wednesday, July 28