Reflections on Much Ado
It’s been a while since Much Ado About Nothing closed – what with travel, holidays, gearing up for the next show and searching for a new job – and although it’s been busy, it has given me some time and perspective on something I worked obsessively on for almost six months.
It’s always tough when a show closes.
You spend an insane amount of time, energy, thought and love getting the show up and running…and then it’s over. You no longer see the people you were spending every evening with for months. All the elements that everyone worked so hard to bring together – all the talent, all the ideas, everything that went into telling that story – it all just sort of vanishes. And while the final performance and strike are bittersweet, there is (hopefully) a tremendous amount of pride in what you have all accomplished together.
This mashup of feelings was particularly strong with me for Much Ado. Probably this is because this was the most directly involved I have been in a Bare show, or really any show for that matter. Our three weeks of performances were the culmination of six months’ worth of reading, planning, preparation, shooting video, rehearsing, choreography, clown exercises, costume building, shopping, and eBaying. So when it finally all comes to a close, it’s sort of hard to know what to do next. It’s hard to know what to say about the whole experience.
I will miss this show and the people who made it happen (although I am already working with some of them again, and look forward to working with the rest soon, too!). It’s sad that Much Ado had to end, like any show, but it feels good knowing that what we accomplished with this one.
There were many firsts – my first time directing a full-length play and thus my first time directing Shakespeare, and Bare Theatre’s first show at Raleigh Ensemble Players (an incredible experience!) Also, it was REP’s first time renting the space out to someone else. To some of our cast it was their first time doing Shakespeare. It was our first show with video projections, which worked way beyond my expectations.
Box office-wise, this was Bare’s biggest show yet. We sold out every show at REP for two weeks, and even added chairs and still had to turn folks away. It was one of the more expensive shows, mainly because of the costumes, but we knew it would be when we decided to go steampunk.
More important than all of that, I believe, was what we achieved in terms making this play connect with audiences. Running a little over 2 1/2 hours not including intermission, I had a brief moment of doubt the night before we opened that maybe I should have cut the play down a bit.
That doubt was dispelled when I watched opening night in Durham. At that point I began watching the audiences, and when I saw them and overheard their reactions, I knew it was working. The response was overwhelming and I really have to give the cast and crew credit because there was no way I could have done it alone.
I am also particularly proud that one local reviewer thought we might have cut some of the Benedick/Beatrice stuff. I’m sorry, but if you watch almost three hours of uncut Shakespeare and can’t tell, that’s a compliment!
So for Much Ado, we’ll leave it there. I have had a great experience on every show I’ve ever worked on with Bare (which now numbers more than 20), and I cannot say that for every other company I’ve worked with. This one, however, will remain extra special to me.
As for what’s next for us…there are many exciting projects in the pipes.
Next in February is our third annual winter one-acts show, and this year it has been dubbed One Night of Absolute Dismay. These shows are always a lot of fun and tend to be both hilarious and dark. With a mixed bag of modern one-acts from playwrights known and unknown, this year’s show contains dysfunction, doubt and a splash of murder. More to come on this…
I am also working on an adaption of slave narratives recorded by former slaves in North Carolina by the WPA back in the late 1930’s. These stories are heartbreaking and very powerful, and I am looking to do a bit of “location theatre” with this one.
Then in summer we will have season auditions and Rogue Company, and there is talk of a bluegrass version of As You Like It…
Stay tuned, Villains.