This year the Fort Dodge Senior High Fall Play will bring Shakespeare into a radically different time.
The students will present "Much Ado About Nothing" set in a post-apocalyptic future.
"Right now everything post-apocalyptic is popular, with shows like 'Under the Dome,' 'Deliverance,' or 'The Walking Dead,'" said Director Lindy Krug.
-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
At the masquerade ball, nothing is as it seems in Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” In this scene are Benedick, left, played by Tim Hatton; Don Pedro, played by Anthony Miller; Don John, played by Rob Leigh; Ursula, played by Annie Laird; and Borachio played by Taylor Ohlinger.
-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
There are no sword fights in “Much Ado About Nothing.” But with this many prop swords involved all the male characters are soldiers, so the fights are inevitable during practice. Here Anthony Miller and Taylor Ohlinger demonstrate their skill on the half-finished set of the upcoming FDSH play. When finished the set will invoke a post-apocalyptic bunker city.
Krug was inspired to make the change by a performance she did in college of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" set in New Orleans during Marti Gras.
This change in setting only highlights one of the greatest things about the Bard's work.
"I feel his characters are universal. The themes are universal," Krug said. "There's the idea that no matter where you are in time, people are people. You're going to have love, you're going to have villainy, you're going to have fun."
If you go:
FDSH fall play
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday
WHERE: Little theater, Fort Dodge Senior High
TICKETS: Adults $5, children $3. Activity passes will not be honored. For more information or to purchase tickets call the high school office, 955-1770.
The comedic play is about a group of soldiers returning from a war - in this case, a war over resources like food and water that are scarce after the collapse of civilization. One of the soldiers, Claudio, sees a young lady named Hero and immediately falls in love with her. Another soldier, Benedick, dismisses love and marriage even though he has an ongoing verbal affair with Beatrice, and ultimately really does love her. The leader of the army, Don Pedro, brings back his long-lost brother Don John, who turns out to be a bit of a villain and causes havoc between the love interests.
Of course, the material presents a challenge to the students, but Krug said her actors have embraced it.
"I was really excited when auditions came and I had so many people audition. We had a small cast last year, it's about twice as big this year," Krug said. "I think that speaks highly about our students, and they're really craving that challenge.
"Memorizing lines is difficult enough, but throw in iambic pentameter, and Shakespearean humor, it adds another level."
A teacher whom Krug student-taught under impressed her with the idea that high school theater should not be about just doing comedies every year.
"We get into that rut," she said. "So I've got a plan to expose my students to as much theatrical literature as I can in the four years they're here. Last year we did a comedy, so this year I decided let's do something classic. And what's more classic than Shakespeare?"
The students have been helpful in designing the set to portray the futuristic setting.
"Once I gave them that nugget of information, the ideas just started to flow. The actors have given their input, but the biggest source of inspiration has been conversations with my artistic director," Krug said.
Her artistic director is sophomore Allison Waychoff.
To make the play seem more complex, a platform has been added to the stage to give it a second storey, Waychoff said. At the bottom is another platform, sprayed to look like metal.
Krug and Waychoff said much of the action takes place in an underground bunker. Instead of an orchard, the characters walk in an underground greenhouse, one of the few places where plants will still grow.
"Instead of the traditional proscenium stage, where everything is behind the red curtain, we've actually brought some set pieces down on the floor. The actors and actresses will make some entrances from the audience," Krug said. "We're going to make it feel kind of like a cave."
Waychoff is in the art club, and does a lot of crafts and painting, but has never worked on a play before.
"It's one of the best things I've done in high school," Waychoff said. "It kind of takes up my life though."