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Much Ado About Nothing: In Performance

Find out more about our latest 'Massive Open Online Course'!

Nick Walton

Our Shakespeare Courses Development Manager discusses a new collaborative online course launching 3 March:

MOOC Much Ado About Nothing

Since September, I have been working with colleagues from the RSC and Shakespeare Institute to create a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that is free for anyone to join, but ideally suited to 16-19 year olds in full time education.   

The MOOC will act as a prologue of sorts to the RSC’s school broadcast of the current production of Much Ado About Nothing (Love’s Labour’s Won) on 30 April.  The RSC’s vision to broadcast their productions live into schools is truly inspiring, and will play a major role in shaping the next generation of theatregoers and people with a passion for Shakespeare and drama.  The broadcast of Richard II back in 2013 reached 30,000 students - many of those watching had never seen one of Shakespeare’s works performed before.  We hope that this MOOC will help students get even more out of watching the live broadcast, and enhance their enjoyment and understanding of seeing Shakespeare’s plays staged.  

The week-by-week breakdown for the course looks like this:

Week 1: Dr Nick Walton from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will discuss original performance conditions, looking at how Much Ado about Nothing was staged in Shakespeare’s time; how his role as an actor shaped his writing; and how he reflects the age in which he lived.

Week 2: Dr Abigail Rokison from the Shakespeare Institute will look at the different ways in which the play has been interpreted for the stage throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, focusing on how the darker side of Much Ado about Nothing has been explored.

Week 3: Christopher Luscombe, Director of the RSC’s current production of Much Ado about Nothing, will discuss his role, as he worked on the play from initial rehearsals to its culmination on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage.

Week 4: Michelle Terry and Edward Bennett, who play Beatrice and Benedick in the current production, will discuss their approach as actors, and how they use the text to create performances with depth, coherence and energy.

The MOOC begins on 2 March and runs for 4 weeks, but there's still time to register and take part in your own time. Visit the FutureLearn website to find out more and sign-up today.