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Much Ado About Nothing in Performance

Humanistiska och teologiska fakulteterna | Lunds universitet

Much Ado About Nothing on Stage

As part of the symposium Much Ado About Nothing in Performance, a performance-cum-‘oral exam’ of Much Ado About Nothing, played by students of English, will take place in the evening of 9 June, at the Open-Air Museum of Cultural History (Kulturen), which will open its gates to us after closing-hours.

Since the autumn term of 2001, English (Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University) has been offering its students an elective university course based on the simple premise that drama is literature that is not primarily intended to be read – but seen, heard and experienced through performance. The course (‘Drama in Practice – Shakespeare on Stage’) combines the academic study of one of Shakespeare’s plays (through continuous lectures, papers to be handed in, etcetera), with a more hands-on approach: the students are given a part, rehearse (with Kiki Lindell as their director) and finally perform the chosen play (abridged to about an hour and a half), in English, in costume, before an audience. The performance constitutes the students’ ‘oral exam’, although the actual grading is based on their written work.

In tandem with the academic requirements, the course aims for total immersion into the English language as well as into all things Shakespearean – whether the speaking of blank verse, the writing of sonnets (one of the set tasks of the course), how to move, curtsey or take a bow in full Renaissance costume, how to gain and keep the attention of an audience in shared daylight (the spring-term performances tend to be given in the great outdoors).

Throughout the years, about 250 students have performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, The Winter’s Tale, Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice. The pictures and short film are all from our performances and rehearsals.

The Merchant of Venice (extract), January 2016