Much Ado About Nothing
Directed by Walter Kmiec
March 29 - April 7, 2013
Florida State University School of Theatre
Photos: David J. Valdez
Click here for my program note
Click here for the introduction to my actor packet
Selection from my program note: "The playful matchmaking in Much Ado About Nothing raises urgent questions about the institution of marriage and the gender dynamics it proposes. Beatrice and Benedick’s stubborn, yet charming courtship counterbalances the irrational jealousy of Claudio and his gross mistreatment of Hero. Whereas Beatrice is an independently wealthy, empowered adult, more than capable of standing up to Benedick’s barbs and deciding her own romantic fate, Hero is a marginalized young pawn in Don Pedro and Leonato’s arranged courtship. Her union with Claudio is both a realization of idealized romance and a social contract orchestrated by Leonato and Don Pedro to assure transmission of Leonato’s estate, wealth, and family name for future generations. Contemporary directors have an opportunity to explore the tension between Beatrice and Benedick’s union and Claudio, Don Pedro, and Leonato’s exploitation of Hero.
By setting Much Ado About Nothing in an opulent South Florida estate in the early 1920s, Kmiec and his designers interrogate gender dynamics and the role of marriage in society. Newly independent women like Beatrice enjoyed new freedoms in dress, property law, and voting rights in the American 1920s. But what does Hero’s plight tell us about how we value marriage? If Much Ado About Nothing comically problematizes the form and function of marriage in the Elizabethan era, how does Hero’s story in this production help us question our expectations of women as wives and mothers? Whether as “Flappers” flouting standards of dress and behavior or as Suffragists advocating a complex political platform, American women of the 1920s began a discussion of marriage’s role in economic, civic, and political life that continues in force today."