Set designers to evoke Renaissance Italy for 'Much Ado'

Renaissance Italy will come alive as the SUNY Oswego theatre department presents Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” previewing at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 19, and opening at 8 p.m. April 20 in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

Gary Izzo, a 1980 SUNY Oswego theatre graduate, will direct the 16th century dark comedy, which also runs April 21, 28 and 29. The production is largely student-driven, including Melissa Schreyer, associate set designer to Tim Baumgartner of the theatre faculty.

Jessica Quindlen as Beatrice and Dylan Duffy as Benedick in rehearsal image.Schreyer, a SUNY Oswego senior theatre major, said research led the crew to create moving set pieces that capture the era of Shakespeare’s tale of two couples enduring many obstacles to matrimony.

“To create an individual scene, we look at many aspects, including the time, the place, and the mood,” Schreyer said. “We have moving set pieces that are used in many scenes, but can also portray a different location in each one. There were many ideas tossed around by Tim, Gary and myself of how we could place these pieces to work with each scene individually.”

The play is an Italian tale set during the Renaissance, so the design of the set and costumes needed to correspond to the original, she said.

“The research and influences for the set designs both came from Renaissance Italy in the 16th century,” Schreyer said. “Since the play takes place in Sicily, there is a Mediterranean feel to structure and color of the set pieces.”

Costuming decisions

In Shakespearean plays, costume design plays a big role, said Elizabeth Redmond, senior theatre major and assistant costume designer to theatre faculty member Kitty Macey. Redmond said research for costumes is geared less toward the individual dresses and more toward the fashion trends of the time.

“It’s a lot of about researching the time period in which we’re designing the outfit for,” Redmond said. “We had to research what the clothing was like back then; the clothes, the styles, the designs, that sort of thing. And everything needs to be discussed with the director before we decide on changing an idea or a design.”

Izzo expressed his gratitude toward the students involved, and how each brings something different to the production.

“It’s a great cast of dedicated students, with a variety of skill levels,” Izzo said. “There are some theatre majors, some communications majors, and they are all rising to meet the challenge. It’s students who are all committed and serious to do the job. There’s a breadth of interest all around the college community, not just with the theatre students.”

Tickets for “Much Ado About Nothing” are available at all SUNY Oswego box office outlets, online at http://tickets.oswego.edu, and by phone at 312-2141. Prices are $15 for the general public ($12 for seniors over age 62, SUNY Oswego faculty and staff; $7 for SUNY Oswego students). All April 19 preview-night tickets are $5. Parking is free in campus lots for those attending these performances.

PHOTO CAPTION: Renaissance, by design—SUNY Oswego students Jessica Quindlen as Beatrice and Dylan Duffy as Benedick engage in a “merry war” as they proclaim their scorn for love, marriage and each other in Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” whose Italian Renaissance era inspired the costumes and set design for the production that previews at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 19, in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

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(Posted: Apr 06, 2012)

Tags: theatre, theater, shakespeare, none, much ado about nothing