College theater students put on Shakespearean classic “Much Ado About Nothing”


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Reanna Comiso, Features Editor

Amelia Barrett, professor of theater and director of the production, knew right away that she wanted to the piece to be centered around the here-and-now rather than middle-aged Italy. It is not the simple task.

In the eyes of an average college student, the works of Shakespeare get a bad reputation for being intimidating. His works are viewed as long and tedious with language that is no longer readily available. No matter the perspective one holds on the matter, the college student theater will be able to transport anyone into the world of Shakespeare.

From March 1-18, the College of DuPage (COD) student theater will be performing “Much Ado About Nothing,” the Shakespeare comedy, in the Studio Theater in the McAninch Arts Center.

Despite being a comedy, “Much Ado About Nothing” is the story of misconception, infidelity and deceit. Though it is estimated the play was written at the turn of the 16th century, it is a story that seems to fit into any modern setting.

“Originally, we were going to set it in the renaissance,” said Barrett. “I feel like we need to set it in contemporary times because the play feels so timely to what is going on now. It is amazing, the play was written [around] 1599, and it feels so alive.”

Three or four months before auditions even take place, Barrett spent time researching the history of the play. She learned the issues of the era and how to make the story accessible in modern times. She also had to take a production that is typically three to four hours long and condense it to 90-minutes in a language that makes sense to everyone.

“People feel the language sets them apart from the experience,” said Barrett, “but the language is not a barrier, but an avenue into the experience.”

The studio theatre, one of the three theaters on campus, is arguably the most immersive. With each production, a completely new stage design is created. That includes building, painting and decorating a new set from scratch.

A unique stage design also sets this production apart from other adaptations. A normal stage is usually front and center, but for “Much Ado About Nothing,”  a portion of the audience is seated in the middle, allowing for total immersion into the production.

“You feel like you are part of it, which I think is really important for Shakespeare and also for this particular story,” said Barrett.

With the many talented people involved in this production, though, it would be hard to not feel involved in the performance. The cast and crew are made up entirely of COD students, each playing an important role in putting on the production.

“They are creating it, and I am helping them focus it,” said Barrett. “It’s like a balloon we’re passing; everyone works together.”

For this production alone, Barrett says the students easily put in over 100 hours of work. On top of school and jobs, the dedication the students put into their art is nothing short of astounding.

From the 1st to the 18th, Much Ado About Nothing can be seen Thursday-Sunday weekly in the Studio Theater.

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