Shakespeare in the Fragrance Garden: Much ado About something

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

This weekend, the Fragrance Garden will be the site of a series of Shakespearean scenes. The scenes range in content from tragedy to comedy to history, with selections from “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Henry V,” and “Pericles.” Shakespeare in the Fragrance Garden will be performed on Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm.

The scenes are being directed by Micaela Baranello ’07 and Phil Katz ’07. Originally intended as a complete performance of “Much Ado About Nothing” to be performed in the Amphitheater, due to varying commitments and the already extensive number of theater projects Phil Katz explains, “We decided that an afternoon of scenes might be a better choice. We decided on the Fragrance Garden because we did not want our scenes to be dwarfed by the size of the amphitheater, and the Fragrance Garden is an underutilized, beautiful space that people tend to forget about.”

The performers are pleased with the space as well. “I think it will bring the audience into the scene even more than it would have on stage,” notes Allison McCarthy, ’09, who will be performing a scene from “Much Ado About Nothing.” Fellow “Much Ado About Nothing” performer Katie Bates, ’08, explains, “We haven’t been taking ourselves too seriously, though we have been working hard to make sure that we have a wonderful show – I think it’s really important to take Shakespeare’s work out of an academic context and perform it.”

The performances should be a pleasure for devotees and more casual fans of Shakespeare alike. Phil Katz hopes that the pieces will expose students to less known plays such as “Pericles” as well as spark more interest in the theater department as a whole. “Drama Board has grown a lot in the time that I have been at Swarthmore and I would like to see that growth continue,” explains Katz. Additionally, all involved clearly desire to share their love of Shakespeare with the Swarthmore community, an affection that, given the enthusiasm those involved have for the project, will undoubtedly be contagious.

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