So what happens once the game is over and the victors return home? Love, of course. DePauw Theatre gives Shakespeare's comedic classic "Much Ado About Nothing" a new twist in this second production of the 2010-11 year.
"Much Ado About Nothing" opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Moore Theatre of the Judson and Joyce Green Center for Performing Arts. Performances continue through the weekend, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. A Sunday afternoon matinee will also be held at 2:30 p.m.
Triumphantly returning home, DePauw students Pedro, Claudio and Benedick join their peers in post-game revelries. There Claudio is captivated by Hero, a cheerleader and the most popular girl in school.
With some help from his friends, Claudio and Hero fall in love and are engaged. Love is also in the cards for Benedick and Beatrice, two childhood friends whose witty insults quickly give way to feelings of affection.
But Pedro's brother John, a Wabash student embittered by the Little Giants' loss, has other plans for the happy couples. Looking to crash the party, he starts a rumor regarding Hero, one that ruins her reputation and makes Claudio doubt her love for him. Don John's evil scheme leads to a tragedy within the Greencastle community, one that Claudio's attempts to right results in a highly unexpected turn of events.
DePauw University serves as the creative backdrop for a story about rivalry, courtship and status. The idea to contemporize Shakespeare within the context of the DePauw-Wabash game first came to director Andrew Hayes in a Theatre Production and Design course.
In a class exercise, Hayes asked his students what present-day scenarios were relatable to events in the play; football player Luis Davila suggested the infamous Wabash-DePauw competition. The two teams did not battle for the Monon Bell trophy until 1932 after which the game became know as the Monon Bell game.
"As soon as he said it, the whole class started nodding their heads like, 'yeah, there's something to that,'" Hayes said. "The celebration of a Monon Bell victory is definitely similar to the post-battle euphoria in (Shakespeare's) original work."
Young love also presents a powerful theme in the play -- one that Hayes found very appropriate for a university production. The play's characters, however, are largely preoccupied with anxieties about marriage -- an issue Hayes felt was dated for contemporary students.
So Hayes chose the 1928 DePauw-Wabash game in which to contextualize the play. This era of early marriage, prohibition, bathtub gin, flappers and economic prosperity between the two world wars was most fitting for the themes of the play.
"The 1928 game was the first win for DePauw (after) a seven-year losing streak in the rivalry series, and (the period) tends to be a heyday for American football and college athletics," Hayes said.
With this new twist localizing the comedic classic to the Greencastle community, "Much Ado About Nothing" is sure to delight audiences as they savor the universality of Shakespeare's work.
"Shakespeare is still relevant, interesting and fun. Shakespeare is more than just good for us -- the experience is beneficial, pleasurable and enjoyed by performers as well as the audience," Hayes said. "It doesn't bother me that the good guys are DePauw and the bad guys are Wabash, either."
Tickets for "Much Ado About Nothing" are $3 for students and $6 for adults and are available for purchase at the DePauw University Green Center for the Performing Arts Center Box Office. Box office hours are Monday through Friday from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. and one hour prior to show time. Information and reservations are available by calling 658-4827 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
DePauw Theatre patron passes are also available for purchase. Purchasers are entitled to five tickets for the price of four.