Shakespeare Open-Air Workshop (16+)

Antithesis in Much Ado About Nothing
Friday 10 September 11:00-14:00


STET’s favourite open-air theatre company Illyria returns for its fifth workshop season to the beautiful grounds of Raadhuis de Paauw in Wassenaar. 

The theme of this year’s workshop is ‘antithesis’. Shakespeare often presents us with contrasting ideas, opposing perspectives and even words that seem to contradict each other, yet all of them manage to express the truth. For example, in Much Ado About Nothing, Act 2 Scene 1, Beatrice says, “He that hath a beard is more than a youth: and he that hath no beard is less than a man”. There are many more of these phrases to discover together!

The company joins in to illustrate key scenes from the play during this highly interactive workshop. Students participate dynamically, helped by professional actors, moderated by Alex Baggett. In doing so students gain insight into one of Shakespeare’s most frequently performed comedies.

Please read below for the programme plan and information on how to book, view pictures of last year’s workshop and see positive feedback from an enthusiastic teacher.


COST €14 per student (no VAT)
DATE Friday 10 September 11:00-14:00
RUNNING TIME 3 hours (incl. lunch break)
VENUE Grounds of the municipality of Wassenaar (De Paauw, Raadhuislaan 22)
AGE RANGE 16+ years
PARTICIPANTS Max. 100 students
LANGUAGE English (Illyria actors are from the UK. Alex Baggett is from the US)
PREPARATION It is advised that students familiarize themselves with the plot of Much Ado About Nothing and have some knowledge of Shakespeare before the session. 
CORONA SAFETY All current RIVM safety and health measures will be observed. This is an outdoor event and there is a lot of space to spread out.

Meet Illyria Theatre Company

Illyria was created in 1991, and ever since has delighted audiences the length and breadth of the UK, and in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France, the United States and Canada.

Illyria has also won 4 international “Best Performance” awards and attracted numerous “5-star” and “Critics’ Choice” reviews for the lively clarity of its approach to Shakespeare’s plays. Illyria has given more performances to more people across a wider area than any other open-air touring theatre company. Its presence dominates the sector and its standards set the bar high.

Illyria is proud that for 29 years its popularity has enabled it to operate on a fully professional basis.

Meet the moderator

Alex Baggett is a professional actor and teaching artist living in The Hague. He studied acting at the theatre conservatory at the Chicago College of Performing Arts and Loyola University. Since moving to the Netherlands in 2018, Alex has kept extremely busy acting on stage with Orange Theatre Company (The Pillowman, The B-Word, Noises off) and in 2019 Alex launched his very own Reckless Shakespeare Company which has already mounted three productions and delighted hundreds of audience members. Alex has also shared his passion for theatre and Shakespeare with over 700 students throughout the Netherlands (and beyond) through workshops and private coaching. Don’t miss Alex this November when he stars in Queen’s English Theatre Company’s upcoming production of 39 Steps at the CC Amstel theatre!

More about the theme, by Alex Baggett

The theme of the day will be ‘antithesis. We explore how Shakespeare presents two contrasting ideas while making each one equally valid. The drama in his plays takes place in the grey area that lives between competing truths. We see this on a macro level: Romeo loves Juliet! This is true. But the Montagues are sworn enemies to the Capulets. This is also true. Romeo’s love is contrasted with his family’s hate. Antithesis also lives on the micro level within the lines of his text: “Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon.” The sun is made more grand and beautiful when contrasted with the pale moon.

As an educator, I live for that moment of discovery: when an abstract idea finally clicks in a student’s brain. After more than three years of teaching Shakespeare to mostly Dutch students, I have found that explaining the idea of antithesis has often been the key to unlocking Shakespeare’s text for someone who speaks English as a second language. When we point out the opposites in the lines and the stories, the text transforms from intimidating blocks of old-fashioned English gibberish to touching, complicated, human poetry.

Authentic and engaging

Theatre company Illyria has a reputation for the clarity and authenticity of its productions of Shakespeare’s plays.

Illyria performs each play in the open air on an Elizabethan-inspired stage. They achieve the seemingly impossible by performing the plays UNCUT with five actors, the number they believe Shakespeare’s own company had when touring the provinces. Illyria performs the uncut Much Ado About Nothing at the same location (grounds of De Paauw) as the workshop, on 9 and 10 September at 19:30. Click here to read more…

Additionally, since we noted throughout the years that teenagers need a little more guidance for Shakespeare’s plays, we designed a workshop that helps them appreciate the experience even more. This workshop is perfectly suited for their age group. It is fun and engaging, inviting them to actively participate.

Outline of the programme

10:45 Arrival of all groups at the grounds of the municipality

11:00 Welcome, introduction and explanation of the theme

11:15 Short scene-based performances that highlight the theme

12:15 Lunchbreak (bring your own lunch)

13:00 Break out into small groups with the actors

13:45 Round-up and Q&A

14:00 Goodbyes

Teacher's review

“Our pupils loved being on stage … SPOT ON! Exactly what we want our pupils to experience.” P. de Koning, 2017, Den Haag

Booking and information

Please email or give us a call so we can help you make your reservation.
T: +31 6 20 43 1919