Clip | Much Ado About Nothing - All in the Details: Why Much Ado About Nothing is Relevant Today

Learn how director Kenny Leon added a number of modern touches to Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in hopes of communicating something both contemporary and universal. 

Premiered Friday, November 22nd at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/gperf and the PBS Video app. Streaming until Friday, December 13th.

All in the Details explores the finer details behind a Great Performances production so you can learn all about the behind-the-scenes magic and more!

Transcript Print

- We must follow the leader.

- Ay!

♪ Let's see what happens ♪ ♪ See what happens ♪ ♪ See what happens ♪ ♪ If we ♪ ♪ We make the magic, baby ♪ ♪ We can make it happen, baby ♪ ♪ Let's take a chance ♪ ♪ And we can dance ♪ ♪ All night through ♪ ♪ Baby me and you ♪ - Now, whenever Shakespeare called for song I'd say, 'Ah!

'That probably is Marvin Gaye.

'Now, that probably is Mahalia Jackson 'Wow!'

So you just put those little gentle touches in there and it seems authentic to the audience.

♪ What's goin' on ♪ ♪ Oh, what's goin' on ♪ ♪ Oh, beautiful ♪ ♪ For spacious skies ♪ ♪ For amber waves of grain ♪ ♪ Mmm, what's goin' on ♪ ♪ For purple mountains majesty ♪ ♪ What's goin' on ♪ - Our version of Much Ado About Nothing takes place in 2020.

Since we don't know what's going to happen in the future, we don't know what's going to happen in the play. (chuckles) - Coming back from a war of ideals, and fighting for what we believe in.

And I think that's something that a lot of people now in our nation, are using their ideas and getting them out, whether through social media, or through protests, so we bring some of that into our show as well, - I wonder that you will still be talking, senior Bene-dick, (audience laughs) nobody marks you.

- What didn't just look contemporary, it sounded really contemporary, even though Shakespeare's words weren't altered, because we had these amazingly talented actors, who were embodying Shakespeare in their own bodies, but also speaking in their own accents.

- And I would, I could find in my heart, that I had not a hard heart for truly I love none.

- A dear happiness to women.

- They weren't using any received accents.

They weren't speaking in a fake British accent and instead Shakespeare sounded very differently, very relevant, very fresh, - Gimme no hus-band, for the which blessing, I am at Him upon my knees, every morning and evening.

Lord, I could not- - Uncle and cousin and hus-band.

Those made the lines sound so new and so beautiful, and brought out new meanings that I think were always there, but until you hear it in a different voice, in a different accent, you can't always tap into that meaning.

- And Benedict love on. (squeals) I will requite thee, taming my wild heart to thy loving hand.

♪ Twirl that thing around ♪ ♪ Twirl that thing around ♪ ♪ Giddy on up and jump ♪ (Cast claps once) ♪ Giddy on up and jump ♪ (Audience hoots and hollers) (Audience claps)