Much Ado About Nothing
Renaissance play texts are both traces of historical performances and the basis for new ones. Whereas the text offers a range of interpretive possibilities, a performance realizes certain of these possibilities while creating its own unique meaning through its staging. In other words, directors and actors have to make strong interpretive choices. These choices include where the play should be set, how the characters should be costumed, and how the actors should move and deliver their lines. This assignment is designed to encourage you to think about how directors and actors might work with the text to make a meaningful performance.
Imagine that you have been asked to direct a production of Much Ado About Nothing for a modern theater company. Write a 3-4 page paper in which you argue for an effective way of staging a section of Much Ado About Nothing (circa 100 lines) as an example of the effect your ideal production would achieve. Your thesis statement for this paper will consist of stating your aim in staging the play (what you want your audience to think and/or feel when watching it) and identifying the specific production choices that will be crucial to realizing this aim. In the body of the paper, you will then support this thesis by explaining in detail (quoting and citing the text) how and why these specific production choices would achieve their intended effects.
The following steps can help you lay the groundwork for a good paper:
1) Decide what is most important for you in the play
What effect would you want your production to achieve? What would you want your audience to think and/or feel? There will likely be a lot of different effects you would like to achieve if you were to direct the play; however, for the purposes of this paper identify the most important one (or a cluster of closely related ones). This will form the basis for your thesis.
2) Identify key choices and a key scene
Next, you will need to think about what production choices you would need to make to achieve your ideal effect. Think about how you would use casting, costuming, scenery, blocking, line delivery, etc. to realize your ideal production. As you are thinking about these choices, think about which section of the play (circa 100 lines) would showcase the most important choices and most clearly demonstrate the effect you wish the staging to have.
3) Craft a thesis statement
Drawing on your ideas from steps 1 and 2 above, draft an introductory paragraph in which you set out your thesis. This paragraph should consist of you outlining what effect you would try to achieve and identifying the specific choices most crucial to achieving this effect.
4) Structure your body paragraphs
Decide how to most effectively present your explanation you how and why the production choices you identify would achieve the effects that you intend them to achieve. You should use the section of text that you decide on in step 2 as your primary example—a chance to show in detail how your choices would work.
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