31. Much Ado about Playing Beatrice

Like most people, the drama in my own life has not been by way of intentional performance. Almost every set piece I know has been wedged into my memory in a schoolroom. They form a snatched hodgepodge of what was on the Australian school syllabus in the 1970s.

Fast forward, and some days I seem barely able to remember the increasing array of pins and codes and passwords of modern life, so when I thought of doing this one I had no idea whether or not I could pull it off.

I decided to try a Shakespearean play for the experience and challenge of the language. I have vivid memories of standing transfixed in the lounge room as a child, listening to the stabbing scene in Julius Caesar on my mother’s vinyl recordings.

I selected Much ado about Nothing (the part of Beatrice) as not too long and hopefully not too challenging.

It’s easy to warm to Beatrice….smart, witty, feisty and prickly, with a great deal of feeling for Benedic but so infected by past hurt and fear of being so again that she holds him apart from herself with a sarcasm and vitriol only matched by his own.

I bought the high school version as a I figured it might have some helpful explanatory bits and the set out easier to follow.

I really enjoyed it. The unexpected side effect of this one was that I found it a quite good form of stress relief. You have to focus and there isn’t much space for other thoughts.

I also progressed from being shy about practicing in the car to robust renditions of speeches while stopped at the lights. I’m sure I must have attracted perplexed stares from unsuspecting folk stuck next to me in traffic but perhaps there is something to be said for being a source of puzzlement to the world in general.

I’m not usually very good at being so unselfconscious.

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