Notre Dame staff and students contribute to Shakespearean classic

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Summer 5-2-2013

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia

Publication Place



Love, suspense, humour and a unique setting characterised the latest performance by Shakespeare WA, Much Ado About Nothing, held at the Kings Park Botanic Gardens in 2013.

The production, which ran for four-weeks, was directed by Theatre Studies lecturer, Adjunct Associate Professor Paige Newmark and also included significant contributions from staff, students and alumni of The University of Notre Dame Australia's (UNDA) Fremantle Campus.

One of the leading roles was performed by third-year Law/Arts student Sophie Lester. Front of the house was managed by Bachelor of Education (Secondary) graduate Jayde Clark, while Theatre Studies graduate Jasmyn Woodford worked behind the scenes as the production's General Manager.

Set in the coastal Italian city of Messina at the end of World War II, Much Ado About Nothing is a Shakespearean comedy about two pairs of lovers – Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero.

Playing the part of Hero, the beautiful and kind-hearted daughter of the Governor of Messina (Leonardo), Ms Lester said she was extremely privileged to have been given the opportunity to perform and enhance her on-stage presence.

Ms Lester said she always tried to think creatively about ways of portraying the emotions of love, hurt and anger through her character each night.

"I wanted to make the audience feel the pain that Hero was feeling after being rejected by her one true love," Ms Lester said.

Ms Lester's love of the theatre began as a student at Mercedes College where she immersed herself in the school's drama program, plays and musicals.

In Year 10, she played Dorothy in the school's Wizard of Oz production and the following year scored a lead role as Captain Hook in Peter Pan.

Since commencing at Notre Dame, Ms Lester has further developed her passion for Shakespearean theatre with the Performing Arts Society of Notre Dame Australia (PAANDA). This is highlighted by her role as Juliet in PAANDA's recent production of Romeo and Juliet.

Ms Lester said she would like to gain more experience as a theatre performer this year and hoped to audition for more productions in 2013.

"I have loved every moment of playing Hero in Much Ado About Nothing," Ms Lester said.

"The experience of performing to large audiences each night and seeing their response to your dialogue and actions is thrilling for a young actress."

With the motto of 'theatre for everyone', Shakespeare WA attempts to catch the attention of infrequent theatre goers by delivering a traditional, yet contemporary, Shakespearean experience.

An interpreted performance for the WA Deaf Society, which was signed by Auslan interpreters, and an audio described performance for the Association for the Blind of WA were also part of the play's calendar.

"A massive amount of effort goes into productions such as Much Ado About Nothing. We practically have to build a theatre in Kings Park and take most of the set to and from the location each day for a month," Adj Assoc Prof Newmark said.

"The best part about working with a Shakespearean play is that it constantly challenges as a director. Every time you revisit one of his plays, there's always sometime new to discover.

"Shakespeare is a wonderfully balanced playwright whose words are just as contemporary today as they were in his time."

Discipline Coordinator of Theatre Studies and English Literature at the UNDA School of Arts and Sciences in Fremantle, Professor Chris Wortham, is the Chairman of the Shakespeare WA board.

Prof Wortham, an internationally recognised Shakespearean expert, said excellence in movement and gesture, clear and concise vocal projection, and an overall understanding of a play itself were core elements the Theatre Studies curriculum taught to Notre Dame students.

"A cardinal point of my teaching at Notre Dame is that in order to understand a play, you have to act it out. The practical component of Theatre Studies gives students an unparalleled insight into the minds and writings of classical playwrights such as Shakespeare," Prof Wortham said.

"The University is also extremely fortunate to have Adjunct Professor Newmark, one of the best modern directors of Shakespeare, to teach our students the necessary principles of Shakespearean theatre."

Wanting to study theatre at The University of Notre Dame Australia? Contact the Prospective Students Office on (08) 9433 0555 or email future@nd.edu.au.

MEDIA CONTACT: Michelle Ebbs: Tel (08) 9433 0610; Mob 0408 959 138 Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093