AUSTIN, Texas—Actors From The London Stage (AFTLS), five of England’s most talented actors, will perform William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” Oct. 2 through Oct. 5 in Austin and Round Top. Presented by the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Notre Dame, the actors will spend a week on the Austin campus conducting classes and workshops in addition to the public performances.
“Much Ado About Nothing” will be performed at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 2 through Oct. 4 at the McCullough Theatre on the university campus, and at 7 p.m., Oct. 5 at the Winedale Historical Center in Round Top.
A solo performance, known as a one-hander, of “Women, Woven in My Tapestry of Wonder,” will be presented by Jax Williams to open a new Shakespeare exhibit sponsored by the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, titled “A Kind of Merry War: Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.” This free performance will be at noon, Oct. 2 in the Knopf Room of the Flawn Academic Center on campus.
The five actors, veterans of the classical theater with experience in such companies as the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and other leading English theaters, will play all the roles in “Much Ado About Nothing.” Using subtle gestures, body movements, and voice modulation rather than elaborate costumes or sets, this cast conveys all the action and shifts of character with ease and believability.
During the week of public performances, the actors will teach classes and workshops to university students and alumni. The actors will explore the relationship of page and stage, language and meaning, coach students in scenes from Shakespeare and other playwrights and help them to examine the many ways scenes can be understood and performed. They also will lead students in analyzing and speaking verse and teach them about metrical stresses and rhythm, cues, blocking and stage breathing.
The residencies not only add a unique dimension to the university’s education mission, but also strengthen other programs that depend on links with the English theater. For example, the Shakespeare at Winedale Program now performs every August at theaters in Stratford and London, and one of the Austin AFTLS performances now takes place in Winedale’s theater barn. “Shakespeare in Performance,” the main course in the English Department’s Oxford Summer Program, has worked with British actors and directors from the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, the Globe and others since 1984, many of whom, such as Patrick Stewart, are also involved with AFTLS.
Tickets for the Austin performances of “Much Ado About Nothing” may be purchased at the Performing Arts Center box office or through the Texas Box Office at 512-477-6060. General admission is $15; $6 for students, university IDs and senior citizens. For Winedale, general admission is $15 and tickets may be purchased by calling 979-278-3530.
For more information contact: Dr. Alan Friedman, Department of English, 512-471-4991.