Kristin directed Much Ado About Nothing at Lawrence University in Winter of 2016. Below are her program note and some videos and photos from the production.
Welcome to Much Ado About Nothing presented by the Lawrence University Theatre Arts Department. What to share about this production? As a director I could tell you why we set the play in Regency England—a time period that gives us the class distinctions, structured polite society, appreciation for conversation, and even military element (the Napoleonic Wars) that this play needs. As a dramaturg I could talk about the intelligence and joy of this mid-career Shakespeare comedy, written in either 1598 or 1599 within a couple of years of As You Like It and Twelfth Night. We could discuss how the story starts in an almost fairytale world of reunion, celebration, barbarous wit, and mischief that comes crashing down into a still comic, but gentler and more complex reality, a world where words cause real pain and communicate real love, all hinging on one of Shakespeare’s most delicate and raw scenes between Beatrice and Benedick. But the hat I wear most proudly today is that of an educator and, truth be told, almost all decisions about this production were made in service of the question, “What will most benefit the students?” So here you see an environment crafted for the imagination and play of young theatre artists. History gives us a setting and a mood, Shakespeare gives us the story and poetry, and the students give it all life. Their heartbeats form the collective pulse of the story we put before you. We hope that you lose yourself in the story but I also hope that you take a moment to appreciate the magic of young artists finding their own voices within the bounds of a brilliant poetic writer and the effort and release of that task. I think of performing Shakespeare as a “full human workout,” one in which you are stretched mentally, emotionally, physically, and vocally to the fullest extent of your being. Thank you for coming to support our “athletes of the heart.” Of course, like our old friend mercy, Shakespeare is twice blest; it blesses those that perform and those that witness. Enjoy the flight. What an honor and a pleasure it is to be back at Lawrence creating theatre.
Kristin Hammargren ‘08