Reading Abbey Ruins have re-opened to the public, after a three year, £3.15m restoration project, meaning that the popular Open Air Shakespeare by Progress Theatre (which moved to the beautiful Caversham Court Gardens in 2012) has now returned to the Abbey Ruins with this year’s production of Much Ado About Nothing, featuring two current English Literature students: Kate Shaw (PhD candidate) as Beatrice and Taylor Rupp (MA English Literature) as Hero.
This production of Much Ado moves the action from Italy to Leonato’s English country house, at the end of the World War II. Both Kate and Taylor have studied Much Ado over the course of their academic careers and jumped at the chance to bring these two iconic characters to life. “It is a truly exciting prospect to play Beatrice and doing so in the Abbey Ruins is absolutely the icing on the cake” says Shaw. “Beatrice is such a beloved character, and one of Shakespeare’s “strong women” that there is definitely a feeling of responsibility when playing her. But I thought about who she would be in 1945, and having previously studied her strengths and weaknesses, I hope to have found a blend between her great wit and her vulnerabilities. One of her soft spots is of course Hero, and it’s been a real treat to work with Taylor to create a meaningful and believable relationship between the two cousins.”
Rupp says, “I am ecstatic to be able to bring Hero to life. She doesn’t speak much throughout the play, so it has been very interesting to use other aspects to give her the character she deserves. The relationships she has with her family is one of my favourite parts of the show. That and being able to perform in the Abbey Ruins. It’s so exciting to be able to perform at such a beautiful and historical site.”
More information about Much Ado About Nothing and Progress’ Open Air Productions can be found here: http://progresstheatre.co.uk/reading-open-air
The production runs from Wednesday 11th – Saturday 21st July (no performance Sunday 15th), at 7:45pm each night. Tickets can be bought directly from Ticketsource here: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/248757