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In the community since 1981 — Castaways celebrates and starts our 38th season.
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Director Hannah Butler
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How apt, or appropriate, is the title Much Ado About Nothing for Shakespeare’s play?
In Shakespeare’s time “nothing” was pronounced “noting”– so, “Much Ado About Noting”, noting is synonymous with eavesdropping. That pretty much sums up this play… people putting way too much stock in second-hand information. Much Ado About Nothing, written in 1598, interweaves the story of two couples. The more interesting and definitely more amusing one is Benedick and Beatrice, who apparently have a rocky romance in their past history. But now they devote all of their energy in their interactions to insulting each other as wittily as possible, each trying to one-up the other. Beatrice wins most of the time.
The other romance is between Claudio, a count and military friend of Benedick’s, and Beatrice’s cousin Hero, a wealthy heiress. Claudio comes home from war, takes a look at Hero and all of her huge tracts of land (actually they’re her father’s, but will be Hero’s at some point), decides he’s in love, makes sure she’s her father’s only child and heir – and then lets his commander, the Prince of Aragon, Don Pedro, propose to Hero on his behalf. It’s an odd thing, but then most of Hero’s and Claudio’s relationship plays out in an oddly public manner. So when Don Pedro’s jealous and mean-spirited brother, Don John, decides to torpedo their romance, just because, it goes south in an equally public way.
But meanwhile all of Beatrice and Benedick’s friends have decided that the war of wits between them is hiding deeper feelings, and in one of the funnier plot developments, decide to trick both of them into thinking the other loves them but will never speak of it because they’re too hard-hearted. When things go horribly off the rails between Hero and Claudio, Benedick has a choice to make: his old world of his male buddies or his newly discovered love for Beatrice.
There’s a lot of humor in this play, some of it risqué if you know Elizabethan idioms. In Shakespeare’s day the word “nothing” was a euphemism for a woman’s naughty bits. This gave the title three different yet equally appropriate meanings, as the main conflict over the play revolves around the false implication of Hero losing her virginity to another man while engaged to Claudio. Therefore it is “Much Ado about Nothing” as (1) nothing was really going on, “Much Ado about Noting” as (2) it’s concerned with the views the characters have of each others’ moral fiber (how they “note” each other), and “Much Ado about Nothing” as (3) it was concerned with Hero’s own naughty bits/her virginity.
Auditions: The play is cast.
Mainstage* Performances: Jan 18, 19, 25, 26, Feb1, 2, 2019 at 8:00 pm.
Jan 20, 26 Feb 3, 2019 at 2:00 pm.
Much Ado About Nothing Characters:
Hero – Leonato’s daughter, Beatrice’s cousin, and the beloved of Claudio. On the night before her wedding, Hero is unknowingly impersonated by Margaret and framed for being unfaithful to the groom, Claudio. She is publicly shamed at her wedding, and her father Leonato hides her away, pretending she is dead until the slander has been discredited. Hero is one of the characters who participates in the scheme to bring Benedick and Beatrice together.
Claudio – A young Florentine soldier who fights for Don Pedro, and a friend of Benedick. He falls in love with Hero and plans to marry her, but disgraces her publicly after he is tricked by Don John and Borachio into thinking she has been unfaithful. By the end of the play, after her faithfulness has been proven, he marries her. Claudio is one of the characters who participates in the scheme to bring Benedick and Beatrice together.
Benedick – A witty young Lord of Padua and a soldier. He is extraordinarily successful with women, but is fanatically committed to a bachelor’s life. He has a “merry war,” of wits and insults with Beatrice, whom he hates. By the end of the play, Claudio, Don Pedro and Leonato have tricked him into falling in love with Beatrice, and he marries her.
Beatrice – Leonato’s niece, an extremely witty and strong-willed young woman. Beatrice has a “merry war,” of wits and insults with Benedick, whom she hates. Like Benedick, Beatrice never wants to marry. All the same, she is tricked by Hero and Ursula into falling in love with and marrying Benedick by the end of the play.
Don Pedro – The Prince of Aragon. He is always involved in the affairs of the other characters. Don Pedro woos Hero for Claudio. He also comes up with the idea of setting up Beatrice and Benedick. He helps Claudio disgrace Hero at the wedding, and then helps him make up for it. By the end of the play, he is the only one of the three soldier friends to stay single.
Don John – The bastard brother of Don Pedro, and the antagonist of the play. When the play begins, Don John has just been defeated by his brother in battle while trying to usurp him. Out of desire for revenge and a general bad attitude, Don John schemes to destroy the marriage of Hero and Claudio. He almost succeeds, but his treachery is confessed by his minions Conrade and Borachio, who have been arrested and interrogated by Dogberry and the watch. By the end of the play, he has been captured while trying to escape from Messina.
Leonato – Governor of Messina and father to Hero. When Hero is publicly disgraced at her wedding, Leonato is outraged, and cannot decide whether or not to believe in his daughter’s faithfulness to Claudio. Leonato participates in Don Pedro’s scheme to bring Benedick and Beatrice together.
Antonio – Leonato’s brother. At the wedding in the final act, he poses as father to Leonato’s niece: in reality, this is Hero in disguise.
Balthazar – A servant of Don Pedro’s. He flirts with Margaret at the masked dance, and plays music in the garden where Leonato, Don Pedro and Claudio have arranged for Benedick to overhear them. He is witty, and makes puns on the words nothing and noting.
Borachio – A minion of Don John’s. He is paid for coming up with and carrying out the scheme to ruin Hero and Claudio’s marriage. Borachio is arrested by the watch after boasting to Conrade about his villainy.
Conrade – A minion of Don John’s. During his interrogation, he calls Dogberry an ass, which obsesses the constable for the rest of the play.
Dogberry – A constable of Messina. Dogberry is not strict with criminals, and cautions the other members of the watch to also leave criminals alone. He misuses language terribly, and his inability to articulate himself is one of the reasons it takes so long for Don John’s treachery to be revealed.
Verges – A head-borough (head of a legal, administrative, and territorial unit) of Messina. He works with Dogberry, and is insulted by him for being old.
Friar Francis – He conducts the two weddings. When Hero is disgraced, he is the first one to suspect that she might be innocent. It is his idea to pretend that Hero is dead while the matter is investigated.
Margaret – Hero’s witty and flirtatious waiting-gentlewoman. Margaret is seduced by Borachio on the night before the first wedding, as part of his scheme to ruin Hero. Don Pedro and Claudio are looking on from outside, and are lead to believe that Margaret is Hero.
Ursula – Another of Hero’s waiting gentle-women. Ursula helps Hero make Beatrice fall in love with Benedick.
If you have any questions or would like to volunteer and help out in any capacity (training is available), please email CRT at email@example.com or call the Castaways number 703-232-1710.
*Ferlazzo Mainstage Location Map and Directions: Please see “Directions” under the “Productions” tab above.
This local community theater is known for such productions as Fiddler on the Roof, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, The Great Gatsby, Oliver Twist, Pride and Prejudice, Godspell, My Fair Lady, The Miracle Worker, South Pacific, Hello Dolly, Raisin In The Sun, The Music Man, the Neil Simon comedy Barefoot in the Park, and Shakespeare’s Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, and Romeo and Juliet.
Community Support: As with every non-profit community theater, we depend on the support of individuals, groups, and corporations. As a donor you will help us to continue our tradition of bringing the performing arts to Prince William County. Our Castaways Contributors are listed in our programs and on our web site for the season to acknowledge their patronage. Contributors who wish to remain anonymous are listed as Confidential Contributors. Your contribution is tax deductible. For your records our tax number is as follows: 54-1238782. For more details look under the “Help out/Support us” tab above.
The Castaways Repertory Theatre is a non-profit organization affiliated with the NVTA and WATCH. Partial funding has been provided by Prince William County.
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Date published: November 10, 2018