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OU School of Drama debuts 'What Happened While Hero Was Dead'

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what happened while hero was dead

A photo from the set of "What Happened While Hero Was Dead" via the OU School of Drama Facebook page. Photo by Drew Lotter.

The OU School of Drama is presenting “What Happened While Hero Was Dead,” a brand new play beginning Feb. 16. 

The play — written by Los Angeles playwright, screenwriter and lyricist Meghan Brown — centers around Shakespeare’s character Hero from “Much Ado About Nothing,” according to Great Plains Theatre Commons. After Hero is accused of adultery, rumor spreads that she is dead. The play explores Hero’s reaction to rumor and accusation, providing a new perspective on Shakespeare’s classic character. 

Alissa Branch, an OU associate acting professor, is directing OU’s production, which is the play’s debut. Branch said OU chose this production because it reexamines a classic. 

“(The play) honors the original text, but then asks a lot of thoughtful searching questions about how we as an audience and as a society have grown and evolved since the time of the play,” Branch said. 

The cast is composed of eight undergraduate students, and some students play multiple roles. Branch said she hopes the audience will be engaged by the cast’s energy. 

“I hope (the audience) has a blast,” Branch said. “The play is a comedy and it's definitely unrealistic. I think (the audience) will be pleasantly surprised by the energy of the cast and the design choices. It will feel very modern and fun, and there is some fairly explicit material.” 

She also said she hopes those involved have learned more about critical thinking through the rehearsal process. 

“I hope that (cast members) have gained a deeper understanding of the Shakespeare play that it is inspired by, and that they will go into the reading, rehearsing and performing of other plays with the critical eye that they've been exercising while they've been exploring this particular plot.”

“What Happened While Hero Was Dead” will run at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16-19, and at 3 p.m. on Feb. 20 at the E. Frank Gilson Lab Theatre. Online viewing will be available. The play contains explicit material and is rated R. 

“It’s worth taking a deep look at the way society has portrayed women in plays and other kinds of art over time, and reexamining what we're willing to say about women, what kinds of support we're willing to give women and how much agency we're willing to give women on an artistic basis,” Branch said. 

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