Much Ado about Rose Theatre Company!

Much Ado about Rose Theatre Company!

To bring Shakespeare back to Assumption High School for the first time in four years, theatre students have been busy working on blocking, developing and rehearsing Tuesdays-Thursdays. Assumption’s Rose Theatre Company is ramping up production for Much Ado About Nothing, which opened on April 20, 2024.  

Shakespeare is a playwright in which many schools do not perform his work, because of the required skill level. Many actors feel trapped in the world of Shakespeare and are not willing to expand.

“I think whenever performers get locked in, wanting to do this right or correctly, or think there is a right answer, then they risk taking themselves out of the present moment,” says Director Andrew Stairs. To combat this, Stairs does fun runs during rehearsals to externalize characters.

Some of the things that he has done in these runs are “monkey do about nothing” where actors say their lines as monkeys and jump around the theatre, and “WWE matches” where actors say their lines as if they were on live television and are presenting a fight; both of these show the actors it is okay to have fun with Shakespeare! 

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Rose Theatre Company has taken a different direction from the original 16th century period of Much Ado About Nothing, and their version is stepping into a post-World War One, England period. Junior Bridgette Wolfram who plays the leading female role in Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice, says, “It is so cool bringing something I’m not familiar with, Shakespeare, into something I am super familiar with, the time period.”

Since the period is set in the same period as Downton Abbey, Wolfram believes the show will be more relatable to students and they will understand the social structures better. Stairs says, “The pre-production table work, talking about the historic time period and character relationships, I am already seeing research and time put in, come across in line reading.”  

Memorization is a great feat that many fear tremendously when approaching the Shakespearian language. Wolfram, who has been a part of Rose Theatre Company since 2021 says, “I put all my lines into a Quizlet, and I learn it while I run on the treadmill actually.”  

The cast has been diving deep into character development for the last four week of rehearsal; Senior Anna Sullivan says, “Ursula’s role has been created to a very different version than the original script.”  Shakespeare wrote his plays with context in the lines and little stage direction; he wanted the actors who performed his plays to find their own characters. Sullivan’s character has been transformed into a complex character through line changes and distinct choices made by Sullivan.

Many who have read the play prior to seeing the show would not have guessed many of these changes in Sullivan’s character Ursula. Stairs says, “I think the character development is strong, they have a good sense of the world and what they mean to each other.” Stairs hopes through the next few weeks of blocking that the cast will dive deeper into their characters and find their motivations in this comedy.  

The cast is working three days a week to spearhead this production and start had their tech week on Sunday, April 14-19. Wolfram says this is her favorite part of the production, with getting to add all the layers and then get into the zone. Stairs expects a great turnout from the student body, especially Junior English classes. Stairs says, “I like to work with teachers on elevating the conversation around these plays.” The whole cast and crew hope for a great turnout, and performances are running from April 20 to April 28 

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