Much Ado About Nothing

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Much Ado About Nothingis a comedy in five acts by William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)[1].

The original text

A play about a woman falsely accused of unfaithfulness, with the Claudio-Hero plot based on a story from a story by Matteo Bandello (c. 1480 – 1562), possibly also influenced by Ludovico Ariosto's poem Orlando Furioso (1532) and Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene (1590). The Beatrice-Benedick plot is largely his own.

Probably written in the period 1598–99, the play was printed in a quarto edition from the author’s own manuscript in 1600.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into Afrikaans as Bohaai oor Boggerol by Martelize Kolver in 2004. Performed in the same year, the text is unpublished.

Performance history in South Africa

First produced in South Africa by ** in 18**.

1864: A reading of the play performed by Thomas Brazier, as one of his series of Dramatic Readings held every alternate Monday in the Cape Town City Hall between 4 July and 7 November. (Other plays in the series of seven works read were Knowles's The Hunchback, Bulwer-Lytton's The Lady of Lyons and five plays by Shakespeare: Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet and King John.)

1895-6: Performed by the Holloway Theatre Company, under the auspices of the Wheeler Theatre Company theatre company as part of a season of plays which opened in the Standard Theatre, Johannesburg on the 26th December with Othello. The company was composed of William J. Holloway, Leonard Rayne, Gerald Lawrence, Amy Grace, John Nesbitt, William Haviland and Amy Coleridge. The company also played other cities, including the Opera House, Cape Town, for a season that opened in May 1896.

1898: The Haviland and Lawrence Shakespearian & Dramatic Company presented William Shakespeare's comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, at the Port Elizabeth Opera House on January 3 & 4, 1898. Directed by William Haviland. Starring William Haviland and Amy Coleridge, supported by Gerald Lawrence.

1908: Afrikaans translations of scenes from the play were read by members of the Stellenbosch branch of the Afrikaanse Taalvereniging on 20 March, as part of a variety programme put on for the society's first public presentation in Stellenbosch.

1938: Presented by the Repertory Theatre Society, later known as the Cape Town Repertory Theatre Society, opening on 21 December 1938 at the Little Theatre for the University of Cape Town, directed by Archibald Wilson.

1951: Performed as the opening production in the new Johannesburg REPS Theatre ( 7th November), directed by Gwen ffrangçon-Davies and starring Margaret Inglis, Jack Ralphs, Vuivienne Drummond, Richard Kissack, David Lander and Richard Gray.

1953: Presented by East London Technical College Drama Club at the John Bisseker Hall, East London, produced by Mary Howe.

1957: Presented b y the University of Cape Town's Speech and Drama Department in April at the Little Theatre, directed by Mavis Taylor.

1964: Produced by the Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival

1969: Staged in May 1969 by USAT in the Libertas Theatre in Stellenbosch, directed by Bie Engelen, with Johann van Heerden (Don Pedro), Jan Engelen (Don John), Bryan Andrews (Claudio), Tom Henderson (Benedick), Robert Sceales (Leonato), Charles Kitching (Antonio), Tjaart van der Walt (Balthasar & Friar Francis), Oskar Prozesky (Conrade & Messenger), Nick Jourdan (Borachio), John Cartwright (Dogberry), Howard Bradshaw (Verges), Stephen Goodson (Sexton), Douglas Wade (various), Shelley Berger (Hero), Marianne Roux (Beatrice), Laurika Rauch (Margaret) and Hester Ballot (Ursula).

1971: Directed by Francois Swart for PACT, Breytenbach Theatre, Pretoria, 1971, starring Helen Bourne, Ken Leach.

1976: Directed by Pieter Scholtz for the Durban Theatre Workshop Company with Alan Auld, Clive Rodel, Diana Hamilton-Fowle and David Attwell in the cast.

1977: Presented by CAPAB Drama with René Ahrenson and Cecilia Sonnenberg at Maynardville directed by Roy Sargeant opening 14 January. The cast: John Whiteley, Roger Dwyer, Philip Godawa, Michael Atkinson, Dugald Thomson, Willie Esterhuizen, Bill Jervis, Peter Cartwright, Lois Butlin, Helen Bourne, Estelle de Gouveia, Colin Duell, David Crichton, John Maythem, Michael Drin, Peter Krummeck and others. Set designed by Ken Robinson, costumes by Jennifer Craig, lighting by Brian Kennedy. Musical director Michael Tuffin. Choreography by Jennifer Craig.

1990: Performed at the Oude Libertas Theatre, Stellenbosch and Maynardville, Cape Town, directed by Ralph Lawson 1990. Design by Peter Cazalet, lighting by Malcolm Hurrell. Musical arrangement by David Nissen. The cast: Phillip Boucher, Mary Dreyer, Diane Wilson, Neels Coetzee, Bo Petersen, Victoria Bartlett, Rick Everett, David Dennis, Peter Butler, Keith Grenville, André Roothman, Royston Stoffels, Gérard Rudolf, David Nissen, Jonathan Pienaar, Willie Fritz, Jozua van der Lucht, André Samuels.

2004: Performed in Afrikaans as Bohaai oor Boggerol in the H.B. Thom Theatre. The text translated and directed by Martelize Kolver, with students of the Drama Departement, Stellenbosch University.

2005: Performed at Maynardville directed by Fred Abrahamse with Anthea Thompson, Grant Swanby, David Muller, David Johnson, Mbali Kgosidintsi, Matthew Wild, Marcel Meyer and full cast.

2007: Directed by Megan Wilson at the Tesson Theatre, 6-17 March, starring Martin le Maitre, Ashleigh Harvey, Camilla Waldman, Chantal Nativel, Zizana Peteni, Jannes Eiselen, Theo Landey, Steven Feinstein, Russel Savadier, Omphile Molusi and Peter Terrey.


"Much Ado About Nothing" in the Encyclopaedia Britannica[2]

D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.189, 404, 381

Inskip, 1972. p.124.

Inskip, 1972.

USAT theatre programme, May 1969.

Theatre programmes, 1977, 1990.

NELM: [Collection: SNEDDON, Elizabeth]: 2007. 11. 8. 3 (Theatre Workshop 1976 production).

Martin 2008. p.58. (PACT 1971 production).

Arts Theatre Club archive held by George Mountjoy.

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