“Much Ado About Nothing” by William Shakespeare will be performed by students of the Teen Shakespeare Intensive summer camp on Friday, July 26 at Columbia Center for the Arts, directed by CCA’s Artistic Director Sullivan Mackintosh.
Teens have been hard at work in preparation for their upcoming performances, said a CCA press release.
Director and camp instructor Sullivan Mackintosh chose the play as a follow up to last summer’s “Macbeth.”
“I wanted to return to comedy, but I knew I’d have returning students who could handle difficult material,” Mackintosh said. “The play is extremely funny but does ‘roller coaster’ into some dark themes surrounding power dynamics of gender and status. A central part of the story involves a young woman who is publicly humiliated for her perceived infidelity, the result of a manipulation by the villainous Don John.
“Fortunately, the plot is discovered by a crew of hilariously hapless watchmen … so we get back into comedic territory quickly.”
Many of the actors have been involved in Shakespeare camp before, as well as last school year’s Teen Apprenticeship program, so returning this year has provided new opportunities to find a challenge, according to Mackintosh.
“I value casting actors in roles that will be a big change from what they might normally do onstage,” Mackintosh said. “In this case, several female actors are playing men in a play where gender is a big deal, so we’ve had some wonderful explorations of how that changes the way one moves through the world — and onstage.
“Shakespearean acting, especially for comedies, is very physical, and when you have to not only understand the text yourself but also communicate it clearly to an audience who may be unfamiliar with Shakespeare’s language, developing strong stage presence and body language are vital,” she said.
Still, Mackintosh urges both actors and audience not to be intimidated by Shakespeare’s words.
“It really is the same language we use today; some spellings are different, some words are used in a different order, some references are less well-known. But ultimately, it’s all just words on a page — the actors bring the meaning to life, and the audience soon settles into the rhythm of the text.”
The production, which is cast, rehearsed and performed in three weeks, will have lighting design by Jesse Harkin, and features original music composed and arranged by guest artist Maria Kramer, another teen artist.
“The show features a sung eulogy for a character assumed to be dead, and Maria wrote a beautiful piece, set to Shakespeare’s lyrics, for the cast to sing,” said Mackintosh. “I’m continually impressed by the drive and creativity of young people who have found a passion.”