The Department of Theatre and Dance at SUNY Potsdam is proud to announce its fall mainstage production, "Much Ado About Nothing" by William Shakespeare, running from Nov. 15 to 18. In this production, the witty comedy will be set in the United States post-World War II—tracing the raucous rivalry between two adversaries who turn into lovers.
“Much Ado About Nothing” will run from Thursday, Nov. 15 through Sunday, Nov. 18, in the Proscenium Theater, located in SUNY Potsdam’s Performing Arts Center. There will be daily evening performances from Thursday, Nov. 15 through Saturday, Nov. 17, all at 7:30 p.m., with an additional afternoon matinee offered on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m.
The play will be performed, designed and technically assisted by SUNY Potsdam students, and will also feature an actor from the Potsdam community. Assistant Professor Joshua Vink will advise and direct the performances.
After the performance on Saturday, Nov. 17, there will be a post-show audience talkback session with Dr. Liberty S. Stanavage, an associate professor of English and communication. During this 30-minute discussion, she will comment on the history, social issues and themes of the play, and take questions from the audience.
Written at the height of Shakespeare’s career in 1598 and 1599, “Much Ado About Nothing” is considered one of the playwright’s best comedies. The “merry war” of words between Benedick and Beatrice is contrasted by a darker side of the play, when rumor and false report by a jealous rival almost lead to the downfall of the marriage of the young lovers, Hero and Claudio.
The setting of this production begins on May 8, 1945, or Victory in Europe (V-E) Day, when the United States and its allies accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, to end World War II. After years of wartime fear and uncertainty, jubilant celebration erupted throughout Europe and the United States. These opposing qualities of this historic time offer an ideal backdrop to a play which has strong elements of both comedy and tragedy.
“The profound ways the play comments on relationships between genders, while exposing darker themes of male rivalry and the hurtful slander of women, make it one of Shakespeare’s most appealing and relevant to modern audiences,” said Vink.
“Much Ado About Nothing” has been performed by some of the most notable companies and performers in the theatre, and has several successful film versions. It is considered among Shakespeare’s most realistic comedies, with a world whose setting and characters are recognizable and genuine, and complete with stock comedic characters, villains, heroes, dance and music. The landscape of the post-WWII United States in this production offers audiences a modern accessibility to this timeless Shakespearean story.
Ryan Hutchins ’19 and Elinor Greenway ’21 will play the lead characters of Benedick and Beatrice, alongside Dalton Peek ’20 and Hana Nitkowski ’20 as Claudio and Hero. Adding to the cast is Potsdam community member Bruce Brownlee, who will portray Hero’s father, Leonato.
Set design and construction is led by Associate Professor Todd Canedy, with lighting design by Professor Don Borsh and choreography by Assistant Professor Cynthia Dufault.
Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for SUNY Potsdam faculty, staff and students. Seating is general admission, and the doors will open a half hour before each performance.
To purchase tickets, contact the Community Performance Series Box Office at (315) 267-2277 or www.cpspotsdam.org, or visit the box office, located in the PAC lobby. For more information about this production, contact the Department of Theatre and Dance at (315) 267-2556.
From directing, choreographing, acting and dancing, to designing and technical work, theatre and dance are highly collaborative art forms at SUNY Potsdam. Students and professionals engage in creative problem solving, requiring the setting and meeting of long-term goals, and the analysis and understanding of movement and dramatic literature. For more information about SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Theatre and Dance, visit www.potsdam.edu/theatre.
Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of only three arts campuses in the entire SUNY system. SUNY Potsdam’s arts curriculum offers the full palette: music, theatre, dance, fine arts and creative writing. No matter the discipline, people from all backgrounds can find their creative compass at Potsdam, with myriad arts immersion experiences available for both campus and community.
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