"I am playing Juana, who originally in the play is Don John. Matthew Dunster has reimagined that and I think it's working really, really well...I think! I hope! But it's so much fun, because I get to hang out with the boys and do all the boys' stuff. It works really well as a woman, so you can give the text double meaning..."
As rehearsals get underway, Jo introduces us to Juana, the other characters, and themes in Much Ado About Nothing.
Time: 3 minutes 6 seconds
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Transcript of Podcast
Rona Kelly: Let's talk a bit about your character. So you are playing Juana...
Jo Dockery: I am playing Juana, who originally in the play is Don John. So Matthew [Dunster, Director] has reimagined that and I think it's working really, really well...I think! I hope! But it's so much fun, because I get to hang out with the boys and do all the boys' stuff. But I am...I mean, we're half way through the process, so there's still quite a way to go with it. But I think when you read the text, a lot of it really makes sense with her as a woman. I mean, she talks a lot about, 'No man will make me do this or that or that'. She...or he is originally referring to mankind. But it works really well as a woman, so you can give it double meaning.
RK: Well it's like we've got the female Mercutio this year, with Romeo and Juliet.
JD: Of course, it's brilliant! Brilliant!
RK: And can you tell us a bit about the character of Juana, for our listeners who may not be familiar with the play?
JD: Yes. So she's got beef with her brother, basically. The revolution in our story is still happening, but they've come back from some sort of defeat (they're not defeated, they've defeated their opposition). And somewhere along the line, her and her brother have fallen out. And she feels kind of betrayed, she feels like she should have higher status to the point where she's been punished (I think we're going to have her coming in, with her hands tied). So she's been really punished for that, but then forgiven at the beginning of the play. So although she's been forgiven, there's a lot of history there and that fuels everything that she does in the play.
RK: And were you familiar with the play before you started rehearsals?
JD: Not really...well I'd seen it quite a few years ago. A friend of mine was in a production Nick Hytner did actually at the National [Theatre] which was brilliant. So I remember bits from that, but I hadn't read it or studied it at school or anything like that. So I did have to revisit it. But it's such a fun play, as the title says! There's so many little things and little stories going on. It's brilliant!
RK: Yes, because Steve [John Shepherd] was saying that, who we're also talking to in this series. It's a joy to play with, but there are also some really dark moments there, really dark undercurrents coming through the play.
JD: Oh, there are. Yes, absolutely! Oh God, yes! Really what people are capable of and doing to each other, to people that they supposedly love and then [they] kind of drop bombs really quickly. What were we saying the other day? It's also a play that is like, 'Who knows what?' You're like, 'Hang on, who knows this? Who knows what so and so is doing to them? And that person knows that, but that person doesn't.' That's all we seem to do in the rehearsal room...not all we seem to do! But before we start, [we discuss] who knows what; it's like secrets and whispers, that sort of thing.