While as a theatre company we are temporarily homeless (while the theatre is refurbished) we have made the most of it by putting on an outdoor production of Much Ado About Nothing.
We’ve certainly had fun with it. The director chose to play up the physical humour of it, leading to my best moment as the servant (a minor part cobbled together from odd lines from the boy, messenger and Ursula) having been sent in search of a book which Shakespeare seems to have forgotten to mention again. In our version I returned with it and attempted to give the book to Benedick while he was hiding and he mouthed something quite rude at me in response. Proving that a reasonable number of people in the audience can lip read swear words! In case you’re wondering, the book in question is a ‘Complete Works of Shakespeare’, what else?
Mine was not the only character playing up the humour though and the resultant effect was to get laughs throughout, as well as boos for Don John (the villain) and some lovely ‘ahs’ for the main protagonists’ kisses.
Surprisingly the rain held off the performances (more important to the actors who would have got wet than to the audience under cover) and the weather was kind. Although it is still, I point out, possible to get very cold while standing around outside in the dark waiting to go on.
The audiences were kind, appreciative and plentiful. The crew were amazing, given the extra effort required to build seating and cable up a huge area from generators to lights and sound plus the extra demands on front of house when it is suddenly several hundred yards from the entrance to the auditorium. The director was wonderful and much appreciated.
It was an amazing thing to be part of. I’d got involved because I’d never ‘done’ Shakespeare and I wanted to give it a go. Having had an amazing time I’d definitely do it again, even outdoors, or possibly especially outdoors.
Curtain call photo © elmspetition.org.uk