AHS Summer Shakespeare Delivers ‘“Much Ado About Nothing’

September 27, 2013

by Tom Tollefson

Alvirne High School’s Class Act Summer Shakespeare put on their ninth annual production last Friday and Saturday night.  The 20 member cast and crew performed Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.”

The play was performed at Alvirne High School for this first time.  In previous years, the summer productions had been featured at Hills Garrison Elementary School.  English teachers Lauren Denis, Marianne Hedges, and Jen LaFrance directed the play.

“In this experience you get to meet new people that you wouldn’t otherwise meet and you get to grow and learn about other people more than you would during the school year,” said senior Samn Bernstein, who played Benedick.

“Much Ado About Nothing” is a 16th century play that centers on the lives of two couples:  Benedick and Beatrice and Claudio and Hero set in Sicily around the time of Shakespeare.

Summer Shakespeare put a modern spin on “Much Ado About Nothing.”  A projector painted to look like a cell phone stood at each end of the stage.  Messages were displayed on the projectors throughout the play to appear as text messages being sent and received between characters.  A third projector also hung over the stage displaying fake Twitter posts made by the characters.

“We incorporated modern ideas and technology into the play, and the students couldn’t think of a better way to do it than social media,” Denis said.

Many of the audience members enjoyed the twist on the 16th century play.

“I like the use of pop culture technology to not only keep the audience involved but narrate the play.  If Shakespeare were writing the play in the 21st Century, he would have most likely done the same thing.  It fits the mood of the comedy nicely,” said Kate Brody.

This production was one of LaFrance’s first production’s back directing after a bout with cancer.

“It’s really fun being back to work on Shakespeare again.  It’s great to see the kids get excited about Shakespeare,” LaFrance said.

Practices for “Much Ado About Nothing” began in early July and the cast and crew earned credit towards their high school English requirement.

“It’s always amazing to see students take time out of their summer to not only learn Shakespeare but to perform it,” Denis said.