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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: October ::
Re: Productions of Much Ado
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1835  Wednesday, 27 October 1999.

[1]     From:   Kristine Steenbergh <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Oct 1999 18:03:37 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1826 Re: Productions of Much Ado

[2]     From:   Jack Hettinger <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Oct 1999 13:49:26 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 10.1826 Re: Productions of Much Ado

[3]     From:   Paul Swanson <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Oct 1999 14:30:34 -0400
        Subj:   Re: Long Wharf Theatre Production of Much Ado



[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kristine Steenbergh <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Oct 1999 18:03:37 +0200
Subject: 10.1826 Re: Productions of Much Ado
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1826 Re: Productions of Much Ado

David Skeele wrote:

>In reading about these various MUCH ADOs set in the periods succeeding
>actual historical wars, I am curious-has anyone ever done or seen a
>production in which the battle described was actually one BETWEEN Don
>Pedro and Don John?  I was in a production (directed by SHAKSPERean
>PaulNelsen) in which this choice was made, and it opened up many interesting
>possibilities.  In particular, it made the choice to forgive Don John at
>the beginning particularly poignant, since instead of having committed
>some vague, nameless sin against Don Pedro, Don John was actually the
>source of all the bloodshed.  I never hear of anyone else making this
>connection, however.

Don John's remark about Claudio: "that young start-up hath all the glory
of my overthrow" (I.iii.62) would seem to support the interpretation
that the battle was one between the two half-brothers, since in the
opening scene Claudio is described as one of the more successful men
fighting on behalf of Don Pedro.

Sincerely,
Kristine Steenbergh

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Hettinger <
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 >
Date:           Tuesday, 26 Oct 1999 13:49:26 -0400
Subject: 10.1826 Re: Productions of Much Ado
Comment:        RE: SHK 10.1826 Re: Productions of Much Ado

David Skeele wrote:

In reading about these various MUCH ADOs set in the periods succeeding
actual historical wars, I am curious-has anyone ever done or seen a
production in which the battle described was actually one BETWEEN Don
Pedro and Don John?  I was in a production (directed by SHAKSPERean Paul
Nelsen) in which this choice was made, and it opened up many interesting
possibilities.  In particular, it made the choice to forgive Don John at
the beginning particularly poignant, since instead of having committed
some vague, nameless sin against Don Pedro, Don John was actually the
source of all the bloodshed.  I never hear of anyone else making this
connection, however.

I like this approach. A production making Don John the agitator of the
war would be consistent with his double delight in 1.3 that he can cause
mischief for Don Pedro by thwarting Claudio: "This may prove food to my
displeasure. That young start-up hath all the glory of my overthrow. If
I can cross him any way, I bless myself every way" (lines 61-64,
Bevington edition).

Jack

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Swanson <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Oct 1999 14:30:34 -0400
Subject: 10.1781 Re: Long Wharf Theatre Production of Much Ado
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1781 Re: Long Wharf Theatre Production of Much Ado

A comment in the recent discussion of "Much Ado About Nothing"
productions posed the question of whether the war the soldiers are
returning from might have been between Don Pedro and Don John.

Of interest may be the new Folger Library edition of the text. In its'
summary of 1.3, the editors make this very claim, that Don Pedro and
Claudio have just defeated Don John in the war.

Presumably, those who make this argument point to several textual clues:
Conrade's assertion that Don John has "of late stood out against (his)
brother" (1.3.20); Leonato's welcome of Don John, "being reconciled to
the Prince your brother" (1.1.144); and perhaps even Don John's
description of Claudio, "that young start-up hath all the glory of my
overthrow" (1.3.61-62).

This argument could be accurate, but to me, it doesn't hold up. Consider
Conrade's "of late stood out against (his) brother." If Don John has
engaged in an all out war against Pedro, this comment's understated
nature leaves us perplexed. Conducting war is to do far, far more than
stand out against him.

Further, Don John is the subject of some laughs in the play. Consider
Beatrice's 2.1.3-4 reference to him ("I never can see him but I am
heart-burned an hour after"). Again, if Don John is/has been a military
threat, this comment seems far too flippant for Beatrice, though I
concede that this is largely a point of my own personal feelings and
speculation about Beatrice.

Don John is, of course, a bastard. Claudio receives all the ceremonial
honors and glory (and, of course, love) that Don John cannot. A
rivalry/jealousy is perfectly plausible, just like Edmund and Edgar. Don
John is likely victimized by a Victorian-like Messina in which
appearance is the be-all and end-all of judgement. This would explain
his outcast. It would also explain his use of misperception and slander
as an effective weapon.

As one SHAKESPEARian said, the forgiveness of Don John by Pedro might
very well be poignant. But that is The Tempest and The Winter's Tale,
and I'm not at all sure it fits into what Shakespeare is doing in Much
Ado About Nothing.

Perhaps an interesting bit of speculation, yes. But I think there is far
more to Don John that what the Folger Library's text gives him by
claiming that he was Pedro's opposite in the war.

                                        Paul Swanson
 

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