Take note! Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing is donning the stage at Gem O' the Isle farm in the third year of the Cowichan Valley Shakespeare Festival. Directed by Kimberley Phillips in her Shawnigan Players directorial debut, this play is sure to delight theatre goers of all ages. Watch as rivals become lovers, and lovers are undone by rivals! Much Ado About Nothing is a play about both delightful and dastardly deception. Actors are tasked to explore the fine line between tragedy and comedy, making audiences wonder if it really will all work out in the end!
When I mentioned offhand to a fellow cast member of last year's "The Tempest" that directing for the Cowichan Valley Shakespeare Festival might be fun, I didn't expect that I would actually end up being at the helm of a 25+ cast member comedy the very next summer. I was most certainly convinced to take the proverbial plunge by the rallying cry of my fellow Shawnigan Players. Without their ongoing support and encouragement, it just would not have happened.
But it did! And here we are, rehearsing a show full of delightful and dastardly deception. If someone asked me, “why Much Ado About Nothing?” I’d have to say that the Gem o’ the Isle being our venue was a big inspiration. I knew I wanted to do a comedy, and I loved the idea of having characters overhear the plotting, philandering, and pontificating of this show from behind the leaves of the Gem’s apple trees. I had thought about a few other plays, but Much Ado just felt like summer to me. I was also really drawn to the character of Beatrice. Her quick wit, independent thinking, and confidence to be unapologetically herself are things women of all ages can connect to.
Our show is a little bit different than the Shakespearean endeavours of the Players’ recent past. As a history teacher and avid Downton Abbey fan, with a lot of excitement for the upcoming film, I decided that it would be exciting to set the play at the end of World War One. I have been delighted to discover how behind this idea the cast is, and how many of them are Downton fans. It also provided the opportunity to change the gender of some of the characters, thinking about how women began taking on traditionally male roles while the wars were going on. As soon as this decision was made and the casting was completed, the show really began to take shape.
I’m so honoured to be working alongside veteran Shawnigan Player Alex Gallacher, as both the director of the Cowichan Valley Shakespeare Festival’s other show, Measure for Measure, and as a member of my cast!
For someone who has been on the stage more than behind it, and whose directing resume has never included the Bard, this has been an amazing opportunity of learning and growth for me. I look forward to welcoming everyone to Much Ado About Nothing this August!