Director’s Statement SDSU Much Ado About Nothing
The 2020 SDSU production of Much Ado About Nothing is set in the late 19th century, central coast of California. While deeply comic, the play examines American history through the microcosm of California history. In 2020, we think of Californians as leaders in cultural and social innovations. The late 1800s was a dramatically different period, affected by the discovery of gold, the trans-continental railroad, and the country’s westward expansion. Ensuing government policies favored a few powerful people who controlled the wealth created by transportation, communication, and extraction industries of the era. Early Californians also waged a brutal genocide against Native Americans, with a large number of massacres. How can this be the backdrop for a romantic comedy? Because love is how we get through the degradation of racism, injustice, and misogyny.
It’s important in 2020 to remind folks that we have been here before. The play prods us to take action during these dark hours to find hope and love. We have to turn away from hate and ignorance, as many characters in Much Ado About Nothing discover.
In our production, a group of buffalo soldiers arrive at Leonato’s estate after a successful military action. The land has a history connected to the Mexican period, before California was part of the US. The history of the fictional estate is one where people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds lived and worked together. While law enforcement officers in the play don’t understand basic concepts of justice, they love authority. A quaker minister might be the key to recognizing “plain dealing villains” who are intertwined with power and wealth.
2020 is a time to remember that power is far too often gained by prejudicial exclusion of people based on race, gender, orientation, or socio-economic class. Too often these practices form barriers for people seeking “…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The cast and crew of Much Ado About Nothing wish all the viewers hope. We wish you joy in finding, building, and cherishing love in your world. We bring this virtual production to you with love and hope.
Director of SDSU’s Much Ado About Nothing