Telluride Theatre: “Much Ado” Director Speaks Out

Telluride Theatre: “Much Ado” Director Speaks Out

Telluride Theatre’s “Shakespeare in the Park” features “Much Ado About Nothing.” Open Saturday, July 19 through Saturday, July 26. Rain or shine. (No show Wednesday, July 23). Show time is 8 p.m. Tickets here.

Despite its blithely self-deprecating title, Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” is the forerunner of the genre that came to be known as “comedies of manner.” And the play could well be the great great grandaddy of near-contemporary movies like “Bringing Up Baby (1938), “The Philadelphia Story” (1940) and “Adam’s Rib” (1949).

much ado


She is from Venus. He is from Mars. Her name means “one who blesses”; his, “one who is blessed.” The banter between the urbane “stars” of “Much Ado,” Beatrice and Benedick, provides a blueprint for any plot that moves from glib and genteel barbs between a cynical duo to exposing the warring couple’s inner bodice-ripping romantic.

‘Much Ado” is considered one of Shakespeare’s best comedies because it combines belly laughs with more serious meditations on honor, shame and court politics. Historians guestimate the play was written in 1598 and 1599 as the Bard was approaching the middle of his career.

Although the young lovers Hero and Claudio provide the main impetus for the plot, the courtship between the older, wiser lovers, the aforementioned Benedick and Beatrice, is what makes “Much Ado” so memorable. Benedick and Beatrice argue with delightful wit, and Shakespeare develops their journey from antagonism to sincere love and affection with a rich sense of humor and compassion.

Shakespeare-in-the-Park is a 23-year-old Telluride theatrical tradition. Telluride Theatre’s adaptation of “Much Ado About Nothing” is being directed by a friend of Telluride Theatre’s executive director, Colin Sullivan.

Anthony Luciano comes to the mountains from the savage borderlands of San Diego. He has worked at Trinity Repertory Company, The Actors Theatre of Louisville, La Jolla Playhouse, The Berkshire Theatre Festival and many others. He served as the Assistant Director for John Grisham’s “A Time to Kill” on Broadway and has been an associate artist with Richmond Shakespeare, a faculty member and resident artist with the New York Stage and Film/Vassar College Theatre Training Program, and is a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab. Anthony holds his MFA in Directing from UCSD.

Anthony’s adaptation leverages the contemporary feel of play and its enduring, universal messages and sets the action in today’s America, warts and all.

“Like our own contemporary moment, Shakespeare is writing in a time of great change,” explains the director. “He standing on one side of an open doorway between the end of his world and the first rumblings of ours. This idea is very much at the center of ‘Much Ado About Nothing.’ The play is a romantic comedy about instability: political, personal and the intersection of the two. It’s a play in which secrets, spying and personal manipulation are commonplace. It’s a play about men coming back from war and facing a world they no longer recognize.”

To learn more, click the “play’ button and listen to my chat with Anthony Luciano.

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