Monday, September 07, 2009

Much Ado, Or: YES!!!

This is a brief story about a proud mommy, told in five parts.

Part I
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.

Part II
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.)

Part III
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.

Part IV
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.

Part V
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 . . .


I'm sorry, but how cool is that?!


Kristina P. said...

Very cool! I haven't seen Much Ado in a very long time, but I love that movie.

Jordan said...

Oh, awesome! Apparently he impressed somebody!

I first saw Much Ado in middle school, and I think the last time I've seen it was at the Shakespearean Festival (I think it was in '03). So I was a bit surprised at how many of the lines I recognized when reading Spires last month. I especially liked how you integrated the spoken monologues into the internal monologue (most especially the monologue your son did!).

Jami said...

How very cool!

Lately we've been having much ado frequently. My son was Don Pedro in the last round. It's just so fun!

Heather Moore said...

Very fun!!

Melanie Jacobson said...

That's one of (if not my favorite) Shakespeare plays. Your son as Benedick? Freakin' A cool, that's how cool that is.

Anonymous said...

Annette! That ROCKS! Could any mommy be prouder? Seriously?? And Benedict? He hit paydirt!

Rebecca Irvine said...

Such a great play and film. The music is fabulous! (Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more...)

CountessLaurie said...

How is it that I have not seen this movie? I will post haste!

Congrats to your boy, proud momma! Bring it on!

Lyon Pride said...

Great job D. I also really like this movie--and any time I watch it Craig always tells me that it is one of your favorites.

Carina said...

Hey nonny, nonny, it's very cool.

Helena said...

Woo hoo!

That was one of the first movies we bought when we got our DVD player. Love it.

Lara Neves said...

I'm getting the idea that you are very excited about this. :)

As you SHOULD be! So cool.

You are making me want to go rent that movie...I don't think I've seen it since it was in the theaters!

Shelley said...


Also, must now watch "Much Ado," as have weird long standing crush on Keanu Reeves.

Kaylynn said...

Too cool, and I bet your son is cuter than Kenneth B.

Heather of the EO said...

Oh no...I've never seen it. Isn't that awful? I'm going to now though, I'm inspired! :)

And yes, very cool about your son! You'll both enjoy this very much, I'm sure.

Annette Lyon said...

Kaylynn, Well, that goes without saying. He's as cute as they come. :D

Wonder Woman said...

This is the play that we're doing for Spanish Fork's first ever Theater in the Park! I had never seen the movie when my friend picked it and asked me to help, but I knew enough of the plot from Spires of Stone. He should most DEFINITELY read that one!

Don said...

Way cool! Congrats to your son.

Amber Lynae said...

That is awesome. It is so neat to see our children taking part in something that we love.

amelia said...

Unbelievably cool. Good for your son!

Julie Wright said...

Loved that movie. Loved Spires. And I think that's awesome your kid is doing all this.

An Ordinary Mom said...

Very cool indeed. And I love that movie. I will have to listen to the soundtrack now.

LisAway said...

Wow! Congratulations! That's awesome. Super.

I wonder if they are watching out around eighth grade because I didn't test or anything but my I think my 8th grade teacher recommended me or something and I started honors English in 9th grade, too.


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