‘Much ado’ about recent graduate’s play

Rahemma Mayfield

Shakespeare’s play, “Much Ado About Nothing,” inspired recent integrated studio arts graduate Bri Baltes to direct and produce an adaptation of the perfomance.

In the summer of 2011, Baltes took English 395, which examines course disciplines while in London, England.

“I saw two different productions of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ while I was there, and so I bought the play while I was in London because I loved it so much and read it many times and decided to cut it into a one act [play],” Baltes said.

Baltes has cut the two-and-a-half hour play down to 45 minutes, cutting out side plots and things unnecessary to the main narrative of the piece. By combining the lines of some characters and rolling their attributes all into one, Baltes was able to condense the play.

One major change that cannot go unnoticed about her adaptation is that she has made the part of Leonato, another character’s father, to be played by a woman. Baltes said she is changing the gender of the character in order to combine the character and his wife in the play, Leonata.

Though Baltes has graduated, she minored in performing arts and wanted the chance to direct a play and work with her fellow performing arts students one last time before she left.

Another reason why Baltes decided to direct her adaptation was to “give [the performers] extra time to be extra prepared.”

The performance of Baltes’ adaptation has not only been beneficial to her, but to students in the play. Lisa Robinson, junior in English education, performs the role of Leonata, and explained that acting in a play can bring greater insight into the mind of the playwright and what they are trying to get across.

“When you get to really dig into the line and figure out what this person is trying to say, I think it just gives you a greater understanding of what the playwright is trying to accomplish,” Robinson said.

Gaining experience in the field is helpful to any student, and Drew McCubbin, senior in performing arts, said being able to put Shakespeare on your resume looks very good.

Baltes’ production is aimed to be simple, and is held on the top floor of the Design Building, where the set makes use of the architectural structures found in the corner of the building. The backdrop is interactive, and is made of a bulletin board comprised of sticky notes. Though this is Baltes’ first time directing, she said she wanted to have the experience before she left.

“I’ve never directed before and I kind of wanted to just plunge into a project,” Baltes said. “It’s kind of my baby.”

“Much Ado About Nothing”

Where: North side, fourth floor of the Design Building

When: 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday

Cost: Free

Seating for 35. Seating opens at 6:30 p.m.