ian shuttleworth

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JUDI DENCH DIRECTING KENNETH BRANAGH AND SAMANTHA BOND IN “MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING” (1988)

“..on Judi Dench’s Much Ado About Nothing opinions were unanimous. The terrified debutante director had been sensitive and in control throughout rehearsals, but was immensely rocked by the first preview. Putting a play in front of an audience for the first time is always a learning experience for the actors themselves, who discover with shocking suddenness that an audience never responds quite as expected and have to alter their performances to meet that climate. For an actor who is directing for the first time, the feeling of impotence can be cataclysmic. But, apart from the usual first-night notes, her worries proved unfounded. She had elected to dress the cast in vaguely Edwardian costumes, reportedly because she considered the sight of young men in tights too distracting for an audience. This decision allowed her simultaneously to express the formal strictures of nobility and its codes of conduct and the disruption caused by their breakdown in both the villainous plots of Shaun Prendergast’s Napoleonic Don John and the romances of Claudio and Hero and of the hitherto confirmed bachelor and spinster Benedick and Beatrice. From the cast she drew a range of comic and tragic moments with subtlety and delicacy, serving the text rather than trying to bend it to a scheme of her own.”

Excerpt from  “Ken & Em” by Ian Shuttleworth