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Brown Box Theatre Project brings more Shakespeare to Boston’s outdoor stage

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Brown Box Theatre Project brings more Shakespeare to Boston’s outdoor stage
Debbie Aboaba as Hero and Christopher Ho as Claudio in Brown Box Theatre Project’s production of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” PHOTO: Nile Scott Studios

Boston is receiving an extra dose of Shakespeare this season with the arrival of Brown Box Theatre Project’s 10th annual Summer Shakespeare Tour. The international cast will perform “Much Ado About Nothing” at outdoor venues throughout Massachusetts August 6-29, including Boston’s Atlantic Wharf and Christian Herter Park in Allston.

“Much Ado About Nothing” is a classic Shakespearean comedy. The plot centers on two romantic pairings, Claudio and Hero, who are crazy about each other but encounter challenges when tricksters attempt to sabotage their relationship, and Beatrice and Benedict, who despise marriage and each other, until they don’t. 

A scene from “Much Ado About Nothing.” PHOTO: Nile Scott Studios

Debbie Aboaba, a recent Boston University graduate, plays Hero. “I really loved the mission of bringing live professional theater to places that don’t really get it on a regular basis,” she says. “I think during a time like this, when everything has been closed for so long, it has been great for people.”

In the Boston theater scene, Aboaba has performed in Front Porch Arts Collective’s “The Three Musketeers” and Entropy Theater’s “The Moors,” but this is her first Shakespeare production. “It feels really good to be doing what I love in the place where I’ve been doing it for so long and I’ve built a theater community,” she says. “I think that’s one of the greatest things that art does, it brings people together.”

The show comes here from Indiana and will travel to Delaware in September. Here in Massachusetts, the show will run in Wilmington, Chelmsford, Uxbridge, Newton Highlands, Webster, Fall River, Plymouth, Easton, Boxborough, Allston and Boston. This wide map will reach audiences that don’t always benefit from Boston’s robust theater scene. Four workshops will also be held during the Massachusetts leg of the tour.

In this contemporary cut of “Much Ado About Nothing,” the cast has been condensed for ease of performance. Benedict will take on the additional role of a friar who participates in Claudio and Hero’s wedding, and Hero’s lady-in-waiting and friend Margaret also takes on the role of Ursula, who deceives her. These edits deepen the complexity of the characters and increase the already abundant drama of the story.

The performances of “Much Ado About Nothing” are free and open to the public. No reservations are required. Blankets and lawn chairs are welcome for outdoor performances.

Despite the comedic bent of the play, many of the characters experience great risk. Aboaba identifies with that as she puts herself out there for her first Shakespeare performance. “Sometimes vulnerability is your biggest strength, and it gets you things you never imagined you could have,” says Aboaba. “I think that’s going to be one of the big takeaways from the show.”

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