While I was in college, Kenneth Brannaugh's Much Ado about Nothing came out on film and promptly became my favorite Shakespeare play. I will not admit how many times I saw it in the theater (often driving an hour from Provo to Salt Lake to see it, no less). Let's just say that it brought me much joy. I could go in feeling down and depressed and come out happy.
To this day, the soundtrack by Patrick Doyle (now best-known for his soundtracks for Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility and at least one of the Harry Potter movies) will break me out of any bout of writer's block. The movie has that deep of an effect on me.
The play itself has stuck with me as well. I have read it many times. In my univeristy Shakespeare class, I had to choose one of the Bard's works we hadn't read and write a paper on it. I have a theory about Don Pedro's role, including what he knew about Benedick and Beatrice's past, which is hinted at in a few lines. I used those lines to explain his motives for why, after he proposed to Beatrice, he so quickly put his plan of playing cupid into place. Great fun.
After breaking into the publishing world, I decided it would be a ball to retell Much Ado in a novel. At that point, I was writing contemporary fiction and imagined the story in a contemporary setting. Of course, I ended up writing historical fiction and eventually decided that heck, why not retell Much Ado in the 1800s?
The result was Spires of Stone. (Of course, by looking at the cover, you'd never know if was a comedy, but again, we've covered that ground in my Writing Journey series.)
This school year, my 9th grade son somehow landed in Honors English.
We don't know how that happened. Don't get me wrong; he's a great English student. He loves to read and write and is good at both. It's just that we didn't do the required testing or register him for the class. It just showed up on his schedule, so we're going with it. (And it sure beats the socks off him being in that horrid teacher's class from last year.)
This month, he's required to read a historical novel. He said that gee, Mom, maybe it's time he reads one of my books. So I've been trying to decide which of my four historicals would appeal most to a 14-year-old boy, since he's not exactly my target audience.
A year ago, when in 8th grade, my son was on the school's Shakespeare team and got to compete at the Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City. The team was comprised of a couple of monologues, a few small scenes, and then, for the least-experienced actors on the team, a giant ensemble scene.
My son was part of the ensemble. He played the Duke in A Midsummer Night's Dream and had maybe four lines. I was way proud of him for making the team on his first try. He worked his tail off at rehearsals and loved every minute of the experience.
Last week was tryouts for the team again. On his own, he decided to audition with a monologue from (get this) Much Ado about Nothing. It was the one after Benedick hears that Beatrice loves him and he admits to loving her. I swear, I don't know where he got the idea from. He found the monologue somewhere online himself. I had nothing to do with it. (But I beamed anyway.)
That's when I decided that maybe he should read Spires for his English assignment. Apparently he already knew something about Much Ado and appreciated the banter and the story, so he'd probably like Spires more than my other historicals.
He made the team. I thought he would, first because he made the team last year, and frankly, because he really is a good actor.
BUT . . . he's not in the big ensemble scene. He's in one of the smaller scenes. For that matter, it's a teeny tiny scene, as in, with only one other person.
And it's a scene from Much Ado.
Get this: My son has been cast as Benedick confessing his love to Beatrice!
To say I'm a proud Mama would be an understatement. For the next month, he'll be watching the movie, reading Spires, and otherwise being pestered by Mom with all things Much Ado. (Poor kid.)
I can't wait for the parents' night when we get to see the performances before they head to Cedar for the competition. He'll do great, I'm sure of it.
I'm still processing the fact . . .
MY SON IS BENEDICK.
I'm sorry, but how cool is that?!