There’s an old saying often used in the world of performing arts that asks actors to “wear many different hats.” Brooke Hardman-Ditchfield, educator, mother, producer and actress, is no stranger to this phrase. She currently serves as the co-founder and producer of New Writers/New Plays at the Vineyard Arts Project, runs the theatre department at the regional high school, teaches three different theatre classes, is a mother of two young children, and currently stars as Beatrice in the Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s production of Much Ado About Nothing playing in Cambridge.

The show puts a modern twist on Shakespeare’s classic tale. Ms. Hardman-Ditchfield and her castmates dance and sing to the likes of Beyoncé and Miley Cyrus, sprinkle the old English with snippets of contemporary speech, and use improv to interact with the crowd.

“I really feel like there’s a reason why we continue to tell Shakespeare’s stories,” Ms. Hardman-Ditchfield said during a short break from her busy schedule. “It’s not about the time they were written in, it’s about the fact that they illuminate the human condition. It’s about death, it’s about war, it’s about pain, it’s about joy. So that’s why they persist, why they’ve survived, and why 400 and plus years later we can sit in a theatre in Cambridge and laugh and laugh and laugh.”

Ms. Hardman-Ditchfield’s creative spirit was largely fed while growing up in the Berkshires before moving to Boston where she earned her BFA in theatre at Boston University. After college it was off to New York and Chicago before landing on the Vineyard where she lives with her husband Brian, and their two children Isla and Owen.

“I think a lot of how I approach my work now was formed in Chicago because it’s such a make arts by any means kind of city,” she said. “Make art by any means, so you know, church basements or public parks or use a cardboard box, use puppets, use shadows, charge five dollars and serve’s that kind of hard core theatre town. I feel like I really kind of sowed my oats there in Chicago.”

Those oats were sowed to good use as her role as Beatrice has earned her glowing reviews in the Boston Globe. Held in the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, the show entices the audience before it even begins. The nine-person cast gleefully engages in a series of breathing exercises, stretching and singing while the audience enters the theatre.

“Our director really wanted to set the tone and have us actually set up the space and be there to welcome audience members when they come in,” Ms. Hardman-Ditchfield said. “I feel like it immediately breaks down that fourth wall from the moment you walk into the room.”

Ms. Hardman-Ditchfield greets audience members as they take their seats, reciting parts of her lines and gliding from one length of the marble floor to the other. She stands out in her orange dress, a serene flower amongst a field of her mostly green-clad castmates.

While she doesn’t consider herself an “improvisational actor” she broke out of her comfort zone for one of the play’s most famous “gulling scenes,” a he said/she said scenario where Beatrice overhears Benedick’s true love for her. The scene has Ms. Hardman-Ditchfield sneaking around the cast and practically into the laps of various audience members.

“I was super nervous about it,” she admits. “But truthfully I thought of my students. I thought of how in class I tell them to take risks or tell them to push themselves or surprise themselves or do something that is a little bit frightening because you never know what will happen.”

It is with her students in mind that Ms. Hardman-Ditchfield’s theatrical worlds intersect. She says that teaching theatre and preforming does inevitably feel like “two sides of the same coin,” with lessons of stepping out of your comfort zone swirling interchangeably between the two. “It reminds me, if I can’t ask the same thing of myself as an artist then I don’t really have any business asking my students that.”

She also credits the delicate balance of that proverbial coin to the help of her family and her colleagues.

“There’s no way that I could have done this without the support and enthusiasm of my colleagues at the high school who are artists too,” Ms. Hardman-Ditchfield said. “There’s sort of this understanding where it’s like yes, go do your art because it makes you a better teacher, and when you come back you bring that experience to show your students.”

Much Ado About Nothing will run at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center until May 6. For tickets and more information visit