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TOPIC: Cutting the play

Cutting the play 3 years 5 months ago #6958

  • James Lewis
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In the forum discussions on MAAN (Conceptts) I notice that both productions mentioned run about two hours. If the play were acted without cuts it would run around 2.5 hours, so I conclude the two mentioned have been cut for performance. I feel the need to do so for my upcoming production. Any suggestions?
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Cutting the play 3 years 5 months ago #6959

  • Ron Severdia
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Generally speaking, there aren't large chunks you can cut without messing up the flow. I suggest you take the approach of cutting small sections and lines throughout in order to get it down to to less than 2 hours.
Last Edit: 3 years 5 months ago by William Shakespeare.
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Cutting the play 3 years 5 months ago #6965

  • J. A. Macfarlane
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I agree with Ron -- the main danger in cutting Much Ado is upsetting the balance. For instance, the easiest thing to do is to cut Balthasar, but then you end up losing the songs, which you definitely don't want to do. It's vitally important not to cut the scene at the tomb, because while it mostly demonstrates that Claudio is an appallingly bad poet, it is necessary to show that he's taking matters seriously.

Probably the easiest thing to cut is the subplot where Leonato thinks that Don Pedro is going to woo Hero for himself; you can then lose 1.2. You can also cut the Boy, which saves a bit of time in the gulling of Benedick scene. You can cut some of the Dogberry/Verges bits, but it depends on how good your Dogberry is -- if he's good, you want to keep as much as you can. I'd love to be able to suggest which lines of that old bore the Friar's lines to cut, but alas, they're almost all necessary, though dull.

Beyond that, in terms of cutting it's all a case of a line here, a line there -- though I'm surprised at your statement as to how long it takes to play. It's one of the shorter plays, and the audience doesn't usually notice any lengths (other than the Friar) unless it's poorly acted. Benedick and Beatrice generally ought to speak pretty quickly -- in this day and age especially, when the odds of the audience actually getting the jokes are often slim, it's getting the rhythm and patter of it down that can be more important. If you manage to get your actors to set up a decent clip, so long as it's still pretty natural.

Oscar Wilde used to state that actors in his plays (particularly The Importance of Being Earnest shouldn't speak as if they knew they were delivering witticisms, because this made them funnier. It's not quite the same with Shakespeare, though it may have been back in his own day. Benedick and Beatrice in particular know each other so well that almost talking over each other can work in tehir case, as if when they put out a particular jab, they already know how the other is going to respond, and have prepared their response to it. It is, as Leonato says, a skirmish between them -- a duel. And as in a duel, they both see two steps ahead of their opponent. Played like that, you can save a lot of time.
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Cutting the play 3 years 5 months ago #6970

  • Russell Slater
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Agree with the aspects MacFarlane picked up. It's really about trimming the script rather than cutting. Another option is to delete Antonio and make angry monologue for Leonato before meeting Pedro & Claudio. Keep the songs and get a good Balthazar - merge them will all messengers can work.
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