Shakespeare's Twelfth Night
Apr 11 – May 4
Barter Stage II
By William Shakespeare, Adapted by Katy Brown
Outrageous high comedy ensues as the pangs of unrequited love affect the unforgettable characters of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. While the lovelorn Duke Orsino plots to win the heart of the mourning Olivia, an alliance of servants and hangers-on scheme against the high-handedness of Olivia’s steward, the pompous Malvolio. When Orsino engages the cross-dressed Viola, who has disguised herself as a young man under the name Cesario, to plead with Olivia on his behalf, a bittersweet and hilarious chain of events ensues.
To See Again
At the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, the dance instructors often remind students of the meaning of the word ‘respect’ in relation to dance in Shakespeare’s day. “Re-spect”- to see again. I dance away from you, and then I return to you and see you again, but with a deeper understanding. What an incredible definition of respect for our times, as well.
Let’s admit that it’s sometimes hard to talk to each other these days. There hasn’t been, in my memory, a time when conversation about politics, beliefs, or ourselves has felt more loaded than it does now. Nationwide, people are spending more and more time with those who are similar to them. Even online, people disconnect from others who don’t believe as they do, and it gets more difficult daily to cross the divide. Sociologists are noting the way we scan new acquaintances in an almost tribal way—are you on my ‘team’? Do you and I believe the same things? Can I talk to you? More than ever, we draw conclusions about a person based on a small amount of information, and act accordingly.
Twelfth Night takes that very human penchant to leap to conclusions based on very little to wonderfully comic heights. The characters assume so many things about each other; assumptions based on what clothes a person might wear, an offhand comment, a cryptic letter, and what gender they perceive a person to be. It’s easy to see, looking at their follies, that they would save themselves a lot of trouble if they looked more closely and perceived the truth about the person in front of them. If they stopped gazing at their own problems and saw each other for who they really were, their problems would melt away. Shakespeare makes them easy to laugh at, easy for us to shout to the stage “Look closer, dummies!”
But it’s true of us, too. It’s hard to suspend judgment, especially when the other person seems to fit every notion we have about someone we think we don’t like. But here at this moment in history, we have to take a deep breath and re-see each other. To dance back towards each other and “re-spect” what is really there. If ever there was a time to look more deeply at each other and to see each other in all our nuances, it is now.
Director, Twelfth Night
Cast & Credits
Director/Adaptor: Katy Brown
Scenic Designer: Hana Goff Eichen
Costume Designer: Lee Alexander Martin
Lighting Designer: Camille Davis
Sound Designer: Tony Angelini
Props: Helen Stratakes
Wig and Makeup Designer: Whitney Kaibel
Stage Manager: Sara Douglas