Theatre department kicks off semester with Shakespeare

Kalee Chism

The department of Theatre and Dance will debut its first show of the year, Shakespeare’s romantic comedy “Much Ado About Nothing,” Thursday, Sept. 22.

“It’s Shakespeare, so obviously that’s different than most, but it’s really funny,” Nashville sophomore and cast member Baylee Morton said. “Most people are like ‘blah, Shakespeare’ but this one, it’s different, it’s funny, it’s interesting; there’s lots of twists and turns. It’s just fun.”

The show features a lot of “Shakespearian” language, prompting the actors to use their performance skills to help the audience understand.

“I’ve never done Shakespeare, so this has been a really good learning experience,” junior Gabriel Pless of Brentwood, Tennessee, said. Pless said learning the different style of language made line memorization challenging.

“It takes a little bit to get used to the language because the actors of that time spoke in a different cadence,” Julie Pride, pianist and publicist for the theatre and dance department, said. “And some of the words are maybe not as familiar to us. It would be like an audience from then hearing our slang and being like ‘okay, I heard that but I’m not really sure what that means,’ so the actor has to use their performance to convince you of what they’re talking about.”

Bruce Schulte, head of the biology department and assistant director of the show, said one difficulty was balancing the production so it wouldn’t sound exactly like Shakespeare without losing his style completely.

“You don’t want to completely do 21st century modern, but you’re not also trying to pretend you’re back with Shakespeare at the Globe Theater,” Schulte explained.

Another challenge the cast faced was transferring to a stage larger than the rehearsal space.

“You get used to doing something in a room maybe a fifth the size, and then all the sudden you’re in this big space and you have to get it ready in maybe five or six days,” Schulte said.

The play includes a large cast, which Morton said is her favorite part about working on the production.

“There’s so many people around and so many new people to meet and people to hang out with and be friends with,” she said. “It’s exciting.”

Pride said she loves to see the actors feed off of each other and watch their characters interact.

“It’s such a neat energy that you get on live stage that you can’t get other places,” she said.

The cast is hoping for a large audience ready to give them feedback.

“We have really, really good turnouts here on campus,” Pride said. “Of course, you always wish every show was a sell-out, but I hope that the audience responds to what the actors are doing and finds it funny.” The greatest reward for an actor is feedback, Pride said.

The actors are hoping to bring humor and laughter to the audience through this play, proving Shakespeare can be fun.

“I’m definitely most excited to see the audience’s reactions, because those are always fun, especially with Shakespeare,” Morton said. “I’m most excited to see how the audience responds to it.”

“Live theater is just so cool,” Pride said. “The season’s off to a great start.”

Reporter Kalee Chism can be reached at 270-245-2655 and [email protected].