Shakespeare’s raucous comedy, directed by Robert Hastie and co-production with Ramps on the Moon, opens at the Crucible on Friday 9 September before touring to Leeds Playhouse (Tuesday 27 September – Saturday 1 October), Birmingham Rep (Tuesday 4 – Saturday 8 October), Nottingham Playhouse (Tuesday 11 – Saturday 15 October), New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich (Tuesday 18 – Saturday 22 October), Theatre Royal Stratford East (Tuesday 1 – Saturday 5 November), Salisbury Playhouse (Tuesday 8 – Saturday 12 November).
Actors Daneka Etchells and Guy Rhys talk to us about how they will take on the famous bickering lovers Beatrice and Benedick.
- What is your name and who are you playing in Much Ado About Nothing?
Daneka: I’m Daneka Etchells and I’m playing Beatrice.
Guy: And I’m Guy Rhys and I’m playing Benedick.
- Is this your first time at Sheffield Theatres/working in Sheffield?
Guy: No, I have just finished working on ROCK / PAPER / SCISSORS at Sheffield Theatres.
Daneka: Yes, this is my first time working at Sheffield Theatres.
- Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s most-loved comedies. Have you performed Shakespeare before, and if so, is it different to performing non-Shakespearean plays?
Daneka: Yes, I have done Shakespeare before. It is different but once you understand the heightened poetic form of it, its content is just about people and relationships (and miscommunication – he loves that!)
Guy: This is my first attempt at a proper Shakespeare and I’m absolutely bricking it! But, I have a top director, Robert Hastie, and a wonderful, talented cast to look after me.
- Much Ado About Nothing is in co-production with Ramps on the Moon. Can you explain what Ramps on the Moon do, and have you worked with them before?
Guy: Ramps on the Moon is a pioneering initiative to put D/deaf and disabled actors and audiences front and centre, and I have never had the pleasure to work with them before. They are a real agency of change and hopefully, for a brief time, I can be one of their ‘soldiers of change’.
Daneka: Ramps on the Moon are a consortium of seven UK theatres that strive to platform and celebrate D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent talent. I have not worked with them before.
- Tell us a little more about your character. Are they relatable to you in any way?
Daneka: My character Beatrice is a fiercely independent rejector of social convention. She’s a role I’ve always wanted to play. She is richly complex; a potion of a sharp mind, a quick wit and a tender, soft heart. I definitely relate to her (I’m discovering every day in numerous more ways than I can count).
Guy: Benedick is one of the most loved and famous bachelors ever written. Do I relate to him – yes and no. It’s hard to answer whilst still working out his character in rehearsals.
- What excites you most about working on Much Ado About Nothing?
Guy: Working with Robert [Hastie, director] again, and working with the top staff and crew at the Crucible again.
Daneka: Working with such an incredible tour-de-force company of D/deaf and disabled excellence, each bringing something so full of life and complexity to their role.
- Finally, why should people come to watch the show?
Daneka: Because it’s hilarious, tragic and tender in equal parts. It’s like no other Much Ado I’ve ever seen.
Guy: It’s Robert Hastie, on the Crucible stage, with a Ramps Shakespeare show that’s never been staged like this before. Isn’t that enough for you?!
Interview by Carrie Askew.