As well as looking at how we’ve staged Much Ado About Nothing, which you can do in the Investigate section, it’s important to think about what you would do if you were staging the play. And, if you can, to perform parts of it yourself.

We encourage you to look at the play, or scenes in the play, and think through the decisions a director makes with their actors:

  • Where is the play set?
  • How are the characters connected?
  • What do the characters want?

Here you can find some key things to think about before staging the play yourself. Even if you’re working towards an exam or preparing for an assignment, it’s important to think about different ways of reading lines or words and taking a look at the key decisions a director needs to make could really help your essay responses.

  • Key Decisions to Make

    There are certain things that every director and creative team have to consider when staging Much Ado about Nothing. The following key things will be discussed in every production, but the decisions that are made can create very different interpretations of the play.

    Status and Hierarchy

    • How is the military structured and how have Don Pedro and his men achieved so much success in the war? How can this be shown in their uniforms or weapons?
    • How are the people in Leonato’s house structured? How are the servants dressed and how do they behave compared to everyone else?
    • How do Dogberry and Verges greet Leonato and Don Pedro? How is this different from how they treat Borachio and Conrad and the other servants and messengers?
    • How are Don John and Don Pedro different in status and how can you show this? Don John’s actions are motivated by the fact that he resents his brother. How can you show this preferential treatment of Don Pedro?

    The Trial

    • Many plays have scenes that intrude on the main world of the play. The Trial is a challenge in any production of Much Ado as it is so different from anything else in the play. How could you approach this? What role does the Watch and their ability to keep the peace in Messina play?
    • How would you cast the character of Verges? How different could he be to Dogberry and the rest of the Watch and what effect might this have?
    • What is the role of the Watch? Are they meant to be comical and, if so, how can you bring that out in this scene?
    • Where would you place Borachio and Conrad during the trial? How might this affect their behaviour?

    Gender Roles

    • Men and women have very specific roles in Messina. The male characters have more freedom to do what they want while the women must follow the expectations of society. How will you show these expectations and rules? Could you explore this further by switching gender roles or changing specific parts?
    • Beatrice is a woman who openly speaks against marriage and social expectations of women. How could you show her independence? Might Beatrice dress very differently to the other women? What choices could you make in designing a costume for her?
    • Some characters go through big changes throughout the play. How might you change the appearance of Hero and Claudio for example? How would you show Margaret?
    • Hero and Beatrice are very powerless in Act 4 Scene 1 after both Claudio and then Leonato, who they both rely on, dismiss them. How might you direct this scene, to show this more?

    Within each of these choices there are lots of key moments and scenes to explore.

    Going back through the past productions section and looking at the different performances we’ve had at the RSC, think about those three areas:

    • Can you see how each Director has presented the military world of Don Pedro and his men and the behaviour of the soldiers? Why do you think they have made those choices?
    • How important is the appearance of the Watch at different stages of the play? How do they fit into the world that the play has been set in?

    To explore the play’s production history in even more detail, take a look at the RSC website, where you can find more information about the 2014 and the 2012 productions.

Teacher Notes

This page looks at some of the key decisions a director makes.

Challenge your students to think about how they would want to tell the story of Much Ado about Nothing. How would they respond to the questions here?