“Much Ado About …” multiple directorial readings across histories and cultures
Four productions of Much Ado About Nothing performed at the 2016 Folkwang Shakespeare Festival elicited comparative analogies and socio-culturally distinct identities, evincing national boundaries and directorial concept. The interplay between written text, production text and audience reception qualifies relevance irrespective of creative intention; theatre productions therefore embed political context, shift perspectives on class, gender and philosophy, and re-engage cultural shifts by reshaping discourses and challenging patriarchal systems, hierarchies and gender narratives. Context, pivotal in connecting agency and ownership across histories and cultures, narrativises a realignment of paradigms. Construction, deconstruction and reconstruction all signify points of departure from boundaries and traditional restrictiveness. In reinterpreting a Shakespearean text, dialogism acknowledges the shifts in interpretative counterpoints and negotiates how reinterpretations function as valuable social signifiers. Reflecting on her experience of directing a South African Much Ado, the author poses various questions: In multiple readings, is it possible to remain true to the intentions of the originating text? Is theatrical authenticity owed to writer, artistic rereading or audience? In reimagining a world splintered by what is articulated, recalculated or rephrased, who owns transmission? In appropriated canonical texts, are colonially entrenched notions remarginalising or narrativising diasporas anew?