Much Ado About Something, Michael Rubbo's documentary film exploring the claim that Shakespeare was not the writer of the plays that bear his name takes its title from one of those very plays, appropriately a darkly comic exploration of attachment and deception called Much Ado About Nothing (c.1598). An exploration of Shakespeare's dramatic authorship or, rather, a lively challenge to establishment complacency and acceptance of that authorship - given Shakespeare's apparently scant credentials to even qualify as literate - is the basis for the film which follows.
This documentary will have interest and relevance for teachers and senior year students in English, English Literature, Theatre Studies, Media Studies and Cultural Studies. Its contemporary focus on people who challenge perceived problems with the received Shakespeare biography and literary work makes direct connections with Elizabethan history, theatre activity and personnel, and indirectly informs comic(?) material in the non-print text Shakespeare in Love. The documentary style structures a controversial (but entertaining and accessible) argument on film, while the subject matter calls into question the ongoing status of a Western high-culture icon, which could lead to further questions about what constitutes that status and for whose interests the icon (as opposed to the plays themselves) attracts special protection.
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