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MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (article first published : 2003-04-21)

The Drama and Performance Studies programme at the University of Natal, Durban, in association with First National Bank, will present the FNB Shakespeare Festival in 2003. Following on the enormously successful productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream (2001) and The Comedy of Errors (2002), this year will see a production of one of Shakespeare's best-loved comedies Much Ado About Nothing.

Set in the contrasting, and sometimes conflicting, worlds of men and women, Much Ado About Nothing explores the eternal and enduring battle of the sexes in a surprising and hilarious way. During the course of its unfolding action, budding feminists clash with traditional male values and families are obliged to rethink their attitudes to life, love and marriage. It is a topsy-turvy world where appearances are questioned, reality is not always clear, and what seems to be fact may be fiction. All of this makes for a marvellous comedy of ideas and action that will stimulate and enthral audiences of all ages, genders, and types.

Directors Mervyn McMurtry and Tamar Meskin have produced a vibrant and accessible interpretation of the play that suggests an imagined world resonant of South Africa and its history and is a colourful celebration of our multicultural identity. Sights and sounds of past and present - from the Boer War to the suffragettes, from kwaito music to colonial anthems - come together in a kaleidoscopic experience of theatrical magic.

Responses to previous FNB Shakespeare Festivals have been extremely positive: the production of A Midsummer Night's Dream was variously described by reviewers, teachers and students as "superb", "the funniest I have ever seen", "hugely enjoyable and incredibly alive", and "awesome". Response to The Comedy of Errors last year was equally favourable. A High School principal described it as an "exuberant and innovative example of how the arts can transform, reconcile and transcend" while a pupil recommended that "schools and the general public make an effort to see this brilliant production".

The Drama and Performance Studies programme and FNB are committed to the creation of a production of this hugely popular play that will be equally exciting, accessible and vibrant, and will delight and entertain all members of the audience.

Much Ado About Nothing will be presented at the Pieter Scholtz Open Air Theatre at the University of Natal, Durban, from May 7 to 17 at 18h00. Tickets R20 (R10 scholars and students) with concessions for block bookings of more than 20. For bookings or any further information, contact Claudette Wagner on 031 260-3134 (weekdays 08h30 to 13h00), fax 031 260-1410 or e-mail wagnerc1@nu.ac.za




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