Before or after you see the Teen Shakespeare Program production of Much Ado About Nothing, check in with our Family Resource Guide to get to know the play better!
Like many of Shakespeare’s comedies, Much Ado About Nothing has wild web of characters! Use this visual character web to get to know the Messina scene.
Leonato invites Don Pedro and the young lords Claudio and Benedick to his home in Messina. Leonato’s household includes his daughter, Hero, and his niece, Beatrice. Beatrice and Benedick have engaged in a long-time flirtation and battle of wits, but both insist they never wish to marry. Also staying with Leonato is Don John, Don Pedro’s estranged brother, and his followers Conrade and Borachio.
Claudio has fallen in love with Hero, but is too shy to tell her. To help him woo her, Don Pedro creates a plan to dress in disguise at the party that night and pretend to be Claudio. Once he has won Hero’s heart, he will ask Leonato for permission to have her marry Claudio.
Meanwhile, Don John explains to his group that although he has appeared to make peace with his brother, he remains a “plain-dealing villain.” He is jealous that Don Pedro seems to prefer Claudio. Borachio has overheard Don Pedro’s plan to woo Hero on Claudio’s behalf, and Don John decides they must disrupt it.
At the party, all wear disguises. Don Pedro woos Hero as Claudio, while Borachio dances with Hero’s maid, Margaret. Don John and Borachio approach Claudio and make him believe that Don Pedro has actually wooed Hero for himself. However, Leonato arrives and tells Claudio that he has approved a match between Claudio and Hero. Leonato, Don Pedro, Claudio, and Hero agree that they will all work to make a match of Beatrice and Benedick by spreading rumours that they are in love with each other.
His plot thwarted, Don John is still determined to ruin the match of Claudio and Hero. The group plans to destroy Hero’s reputation by making it appear that Hero has invited Borachio into her bedroom in view of Don Pedro and Claudio on the night before her wedding. In fact, it will be Hero’s maid, Margaret, whom Borachio will seduce in the window.
The Constable in charge of the Watch, Dogberry, gathers his watchmen, Verges and Oatcake. He reminds them to keep special watch on Leonato’s home to protect the wedding festivities the next day. Oatcake and Verges overhear Borachio and Conrade discussing the plot and arrest them.
As everyone prepares for the wedding, Dogberry and the watchmen go to Leonato to tell him about the arrest of Borachio and Conrade and their plot to discredit Hero, but he is impatient and sends them away.
At the wedding, Claudio denounces Hero in front of the stunned guests. Hero faints and appears dead. Claudio leaves with Don Pedro and Don John. The Friar insists that Hero must have been accused in error and that there must be some villainy at play. The Friar convinces the group to let Claudio, Don Pedro, and Don John believe that Hero has died so that they will regret their plot and Claudio will be truly sorrowful.
Reeling from what has just taken place, Benedick and Beatrice confess their love for each other. Beatrice asks Benedick to kill Claudio as proof of his devotion, since he has slandered her cousin. Benedick is at first unsure but then agrees.
Leonato and Antonio accuse Claudio of having killed Hero with his slander. Benedick challenges Claudio to a duel, and informs Don Pedro that Don John has fled. Dogberry arrives with Borachio and Conrade. Borachio confesses the plot and that Don John had paid him for it. Claudio, stricken with remorse at Hero’s supposed death, agrees to her father’s request that he marry his brother Antonio’s daughter, who greatly resembles Hero, and thus bring honor to the family.
At the wedding, the bride is revealed to be Hero, still living. Claudio is overjoyed. Beatrice and Benedick confess their love for each other. But will everyone live happily ever after?
How to Disco Dance
Our production of Much Ado About Nothing places the action at the Much Ado Disco in the glittery 1970s. Why not perfect your best moves and boogie down by taking an online dance lesson!
Shakespearean Insult Kit
Much Ado About Nothing is famous for its witty banter, particularly between Beatrice and Benedick. Shakespeare’s vast vocabulary and creative use of language lends itself to especially humourous and cutting insults. Some treats from Much Ado: “She’s too low for a high praise, and too little for a great praise” “ a plain-dealing villain” “a very dull fool” “villains, boys, apes, braggarts, Jacks, milksops” “scambling, out-facing, fashion-monging boys” and “lying knaves.”
Enjoy playing with this Shakespeare Insult Kit that lets you create some juicy Shakespearean insults for yourself. Simply say “THOU…” – and complete the insult by picking a single word from all three columns. Click here to download the full Shakespeare Insult Kit.
Expand your vocabulary by looking up definitions to words that seem unfamiliar. If a word doesn’t appear in the dictionary, try making up your own!
After the Show
Now that you’ve seen Much Ado About Nothing, imagine what happens after the show ends. Do you think Hero should marry Claudio? Will Beatrice and Benedick be able to put their insults aside and live as partners? What punishment is fitting for Don John, Borachio, and Conrade?
Tell us your ending to the story by sending us a letter or email to firstname.lastname@example.org!