20th to 29th July 1989
Gala Night on Sunday 23rd July
Much Ado About Nothing is usually dated about 1598, and was published in 1600. The main story, that of Hero and Claudia, has been traced to sources some quarter of a century earlier. But the enduring appeal to audiences over the centuries is the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick which is entirely Shakespeare’s invention, as are the comic constable Dogberry and his watchmen.
The play explores a variety of personal relationships and attitudes, set against the influences of class and social expectation. Whilst Claudio and Hero appear to accept reasonably readily the expectations of society and their families in the conduct of their relationships, Beatrice comes through by contrast as one of the earliest feminists - unwilling to conform and behave ‘as expected’. The parallel with the birth of womens’ lib at the turn of the century was one of the reasons I chose to set our production in early Edwardian times.
Although Beatrice and Benedick are frequently portrayed as young sparring lovers, their intelligence and wit, coupled with their confirmed batchelordom, must make them in reality mature adults, which is how we present them.
Another particularly current concept in the play is the comparison between today’s ‘Neighbourhood Watch Schemes’ and Shakespeare’s Watch. Ordinary citizens had a duty to serve a night’s watch on a rota basis: but the more intelligent paid others to do their turn for them, producing a ‘Dad’s Army’ in which Shakespeare readily saw the comic possibilities.
It is widely held that Shakespeare intended the title to be a pun between ‘nothing’ and ‘noting’. Certainly much of the plays’ fun lies in the way in which the audience can ‘note’ the actions, plots and feelings of all the characters, and decide in advance what the outcome might be.
|Cast (in order of appearance)|
|A Messenger||James Smith|
|Ursula||Miss Jenni Watson*|
|Don Pedro||David Pike|
|Don John||David Bartlett|
|A Gardener||John Carrington|
|The Watch||Kenneth Spencer, Derek Sealey, Graham Hhll, John Carrington, Barry Glasspell, Michael Shailer, Peter Neave|
|The Vicar||Harry Tuffill|
|The Judge||Albert Minns|
|*NOTE: There was an error in the programme transposing these two roles. The above is correct.|
|For the Maskers|
|Produced & Directed by||Michael Patterson|
|Production Assistants||Graham Buchanan, John Carrington, Belinda Drew|
|Stage Manager||Julia Campone|
|Assistant Stage Managers||Debbie Moorhouse, Shauna Lockett, Sally Hilton|
|Lighting Design||Clive Weeks|
|Lighting Assistants||Anthony Baldry, Simon Pike, Ian Pooley|
|Sound Plot||Tony Lawther|
|Sound Operators||Wendy Hall, Richard Gorbutt|
|Wardrobe||Angela Stansbridge, Mollie Manns|
|Set Construction||Geoff Cooke, Bill Pitman|
|Set Painting||Ken Spencer|
|Producton Assistants||Ron Tillyer, Sonia Morris, Geoff Wharam|
|Poster Design||John Hamon|
|Front Of House and Bar||Angela Barks|
Looking back the director, Michael Patterson, remembers:
The resplendent setting of the National Trust's Mottisfont Abbey provided The Maskers with the opportunity for a new approach to outdoor theatre - we moved the whole audience to a different location for each main scene. All 200 of them. Not once, but 3 times! The play opened, for example, around the main entrance to the great House, with the messenger arriving on horseback down the long drive. He was soon followed by the arrival of Benedick, in full Ruritanian military uniform, sitting in the back of his staff-car (a canary yellow, chauffeur-driven vintage car!). The audience loved the concept - each move gave them a chance to get a better position to see the action. They still remember the finale, the candle-lit entrance into the Chapel Arch, the setting for The Wedding, as dusk deepened over the Test Valley, and the sound of the church choir drifted over the river ...
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