The Indiana Wesleyan University Theatre Guild will be presenting its first show of the semester, Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” Sept. 26 in the Black Box Theatre.
Set in Italy in the 15th century, the story is about two couples who fall in love. Governor Leonato of Messina invites Prince Don Pedro and some of his troops, Claudio and Benedick, over to his estate. Leonato’s niece, Beatrice, already has something of a relationship with Benedick.
“They can’t stand each other, or so it seems. … They’ve kind of had a history together,” said Kendra Emmett (sr), who plays Beatrice. “They’re always out to try and get the best of each other.” Emmett said Beatrice and Benedick get tricked into thinking each has fallen in love with the other.
Leonato’s daughter, Hero, is the other female character in this play. She falls in love with Claudio from the moment she first meets him. Claudio voices his feelings of affection to Benedick and Don Pedro.
Don John, Don Pedro’s illegitimate brother, is the villain in the play. He hates Claudio and tries to sabotage his relationship with Hero. There are instances when Don John interferes with every character’s situation, including Benedick and Beatrice, but everything works out in its own way in the end.
Members of IWU’s Theatre Guild intend to make the Shakespearean play unique. “One of the main things we’re doing [is] kind of going back to the Shakespearean time, but we’re really modernizing it,” said Justine Schaefer (so), who plays Dogberry. “Most of our dress is pretty modern; our outfits or costumes are modern.”
“We’re doing a different style than is usually done,” said the director, Dr. Greg Fiebig. “The style that we’re doing is based in Shakespeare’s original practices. People have gone back to try and study how Shakespeare’s plays would have occurred on the Globe stage or the Blackfriars stage. They used things like universal lighting, contemporary costumes, very little props, no set. And so that’s how we’re trying to approach this.”
Schaefer said the audience will have a lot of fun, “especially because we’re playing on really interacting with them.”
“We’re going to try and interact with the audience a lot,” Fiebig said. “There’s one particular place in this script where you actually pull one or two audience members up out of the audience onto the stage—probably scare them to death, but then we get to let them go sit right back down. But there will probably be three or four, or maybe a half-dozen, spaces in the script where we’re going to take advantage of that.”
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Emmett. “Normally when you think of going to see a play, you think of sitting in the dark, very much disconnected from what’s happening on the stage there with their own little world. We call it the fourth wall, where you don’t acknowledge the audience exists.”
However, audience members of “Much Ado About Nothing” will get a different experience.
“All the lights will be up. The actors will be able to see the audience and the audience will be able to see the actors, and we will be interacting,” said Emmett. “It’s very much an interactive style. So I’m hoping the audience kind of catches onto that and really gets into that. It will be really fun.”
Tickets are on sale at the Phillippe Performing Arts Center box office. Students pay $7 and admission for the general public is $12. Faculty, staff and alumni pay $10. The IWU Theatre Guild will also be performing “Pygmalion” in November, and “Steel Magnolias” and “My Fair Lady” next semester.