|Much Ado About Nothing|
|Written by Administrator|
|Friday, 22 April 2005 06:15|
Much Ado: California Shakespeare Theatre, 2003. Beatrice (Julie Eccles) mocks Benedick (Charles Shaw Robinson). Photo: courtesy Jay Yamada.
STAGING MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
Alexander, Peter, editor, Much Ado about Nothing. London: BBC, 1986.
Bron, Eleanor, "Much Ado About Nothing " Shakespeare in Perspective 2 ed. Roger Sales, 1985. 271-79.
Bate, Jonathan, “Dying to Live in Much Ado About Nothing”, in Y. Takada (ed.) Surprised by Scenes: Essays in Honour of Professor Yasunari Takahashi . Tokyo: Kenkyusha , 1994, 69-85.
Berger, H., Jr. “Against the Sink-a-Pace: Sexual and Family Politics in Much Ado About Nothing”, Shakespeare Quarterly 33 (1982), 302-13.Cock, J. F., "The Stage Representation of the 'Kill Claudio' Sequence in Much Ado About Nothing." Shakespeare Survey 32 (1979): 27-36.
Coursen, H. R., "Anachronism and Papp's Much Ado ." Shakespeare on Television (1988): 151-55.
Cox, John F., ed., Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare in Production Series), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Crowl, Samuel, "The Marriage of Shakespeare and Hollywood: Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing." Spectacular Shakespeare, ed. Lehmann, 2002, 110-24.
Everett, B. (1994). “Much Ado About Nothing: The Unsociable Comedy” in M. Cordner, P. Holland, and J. Kerrigan (eds.) English Comedy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 186-202.
Foakes, R. A., ed., Much Ado About Nothing, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1968
Fisher, James. "Theatrical Revolution: Edward Gordon Craig's Much Ado About Nothing (1903)" Text and Presentation 10 (1990): 27-34.
Gajowski, Evelyn. "'Sigh No More, Ladies, Sigh No More': Genesis Deconstructed in Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing ." JTD: Journal of Theatre and Drama 56 (1999-2000): 101-26.
Greiner, Norbert, "Beaucoup de bruit pour rien de Wieland à Goethe: Les débuts du théâtre de mise en scène,” Revue germanique internationale 5 (2007): 51-67, 2007.
Hayes, J. (1980). “Those “soft and delicate desires”: Much Ado and the Distrust of Women”, in C. Lenz, G. Greene, and C. T. Neely, eds., The Woman's Part: Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare, Urbana: University of Illinois Press , 1979.
Humphreys, A. R., ed., Much Ado About Nothing, London: Methuen (Arden), 1981.
Jenkins, H. “The Ball Scene in Much Ado About Nothing” in B. Fabian and K. T. von Rosador, eds., Shakespeare: Text, Language, Criticism, Hildesheim: Olms-Weidmann, 98(1987). 117.
Lewalski, B., Love, “Appearance and Reality: Much Ado About Something” Studies in English Literature 8 (1968), 235-51.
Mares, F. H., "Stage History," in Much Ado About Nothing, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988, pp. 10-41.
McKewin, C. (1983). “Counsels of Gall and Grace: Intimate Conversations between Women in Shakespeare's Plays” in C. Ruth, S. Lenz, G. Greene, and C. T. Neely, eds., The Woman's Part, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1979, 117-32.
Paulson, M. G. Lepanto: Fact, Fiction and Fantasy Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1986.
Richmond, Hugh M., "Much Ado About Notables," Shakespeare Studies XII (1979), 49-63.
Talkin' Broadway.com, 1997 - 2010 a project of www.TalkinBroadway.Org, Inc. (search for play title to get recent reviews) .
Taylor, M. “Much Ado About Nothing: The Individual in Society”, Essays in Criticism 23 (1973), 146 53.
Warren, Roger, Much Ado about Nothing: A Performing Edition, London: Oberson, 2005.
The Clown Don Juan as portrayed by Velázquez (courtesy of the Prado Museum).
The Audience and Much Ado
This play illustrates how aesthetically superior audience response is to that of many literary critics, who censure the play because of what they consider an inadequate main plot with weak characters, mechanically assuming Hero and Claudio to be the focus of the play. From the first, audiences perceived that the core of the play lies in the evolution in the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick as Leonard Digges records in 1640: "let but Beatrice and Benedick be seen, lo in a trice the cockpit, galleries, boxes all are full." Don John's machinations are merely an incident in the complex sequence of events in their fascinatingly erratic love-affair, important elements of which antedate the play's action, as Beatrice bluntly establishes in complaining of Benedick's jilting of her after once before he won her heart by playing for it "with false dice" (2.1.280), thus explaining how she can say to him "I know you of old." (1.1.145) Moreover, this antecdent involvement clearly persists in their preoccupation with each-other, visible whenever they are both on stage together, so that the over-hearings about their supposed mutual fixation merely intensify an existing preoccupation rather than initiating it.
In relation to the incidental theme of the Don John/Hero/Claudio, that subplot clearly functions in the play as what film director Alfred Hitchcock frequently called "the MacGuffin": "a plot element that catches the viewer's attention or drives the plot of a work of fiction," thereby eliciting presentation of more important issues. For Hitchcock also observed that, even if the plot nominally revolves around it, "what the object specifically is, the audience don't care." This audience indifference to Hero's plight is evident at most performances of Much Ado, and particularly notable in the Quayle/Gielgud/Ashcroft series. Paradoxically such detachment is not inevitable: when Hero is played subtly it is clear that, just as his friends enjoy humiliating the smug Benedick, so Hero resents Beatrice's easy domination of her society. However, in elevating themselves to being "the only love-gods" (2.1.386) the conspirators risk meriting their own deception by Don John - so there is a certain symmetry in the deceptions, from which only Beatrice and Benedick emerge with some credit for their ultimate loyalty to each-other and to Hero, despite the risks and humiliations involved. So to some extent an alert audience should perceive that Hero, Claudio, and Don Pedro all suffer the humiliating fate they try to inflict on Beatrice and Benedick. Moreover, the agency which resolves the potentially tragic situation is a group of supposedly unsophisticated watchmen. In this mixture of elements the play fulfills the classic specifications of tragicomedy, mixing classes, emotions, and dramatic effects from farce to pathos, but with a positive outcome, as required by Lope de Vega's aesthetic in The New Art of Writing Plays. © HMR
Much Ado: John Gilbert as Dogberry. 1855.
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