The program accompanying Maria Aberg’s production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing sets the intellectual mood for the performance. Its main body consists of three articles. The first article ‘Stranger in the House’ by Julie Summers describes life in Britain after the Second World War. Women (wives, girlfriends and mothers) are highlighted for their roles in helping soldiers settle back into civilian and family life. During the war, however, some young women enjoyed a hedonistic lifestyle created by a patriarchal free society, especially when the American GI’s landed on British soil. Therefore, post-war Britain became blighted by divorce and unwanted pregnancies. The second article ‘An Age of Uncertainty’ by Scott Ferguson marks the birth of Government state surveillance developed from spying in the Second World War. An epidemic of phone tapping, miniaturised bugging devices hidden in offices and homes and intercepted mail plagued a suspicious world divided by conflict. In ‘Reading Between [Blurred] Lines: Staging Shakespeare’s Women Today’, Benjamin Fowler examines a subtle undermining of patriarchal power in Much Ado About Nothing. What is particularly interesting is Fowler’s discussion of Innogen who is Hero’s mother, and Leonata’s wife, as the epitome of the silent female. Her mysterious appearance as the stage direction Innogen his wife on only two occasions (the beginning of acts 1 & 2) in the Quarto and Folio led to her deletion in 1733 by Lewis Theobald. She has rarely been seen since.
It is no surprise, then, that Aberg begins Much Ado About Nothing in