June 14 – November 27, 2016

Love flows freely and confusion runs rampant in Shakespeare’s tale of shipwreck, mistaken identity, and unrequited love. Nobles and servants alike navigate twisted paths on their quests for love. The ASC’s vibrant, unplugged, and live music underscores this hilarious, heartwarming, frolic through imagined Illyria.

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Stuff that Happens
Stuff that Happens During the play
  • Orsino, Duke of Illyria, expresses his love for the mourning Lady Olivia, who is not admitting the Duke’s men sent to woo for him.
  • Viola arrives in Illyria after a shipwreck, which seems to have killed her twin brother. She decides to disguise herself as a man and serve the Duke.
  • Olivia’s gentlewoman, Maria, chides Olivia’s kinsman, Sir Toby Belch, for staying out too late, for drinking too much, and for bringing in a foolish knight, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, to woo Olivia.
  • The Duke sends his new servant, Cesario (the disguised Viola), to woo Olivia for him. Cesario/Viola confesses “whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife.”
  • Maria, Olivia, and Malvolio all chide Feste, Olivia’s clown, for being absent from Olivia’s household. Feste regains the favor of Olivia while earning the scorn of Malvolio.
  • Cesario arrives to woo Olivia for the Duke; Olivia says she cannot love the Duke; when Cesario leaves, Olivia confesses affection for Cesario.
  • Olivia then pretends that Cesario gave her a ring from the Duke and sends Malvolio to run after Cesario and return the ring.
  • Malvolio “returns” the ring and Cesario/Viola realizes Olivia is in love with him/her.
  • Viola’s twin brother, Sebastian, is still alive and tells the man who saved him, Antonio, that his sister is drowned and that he must leave Antonio and go to Orsino’s court.
  • After Sebastian departs, Antonio confesses he has enemies in Orsino’s court, but he will follow Sebastian anyway.
  • Toby, Andrew, and Feste stay up late singing and drinking. Maria advises them to be quieter; Malvolio then breaks up the party and threatens to report them all to Olivia.
  • Maria devises a plan to put Malvolio in his place.
  • Cesario/Viola falls more deeply in love with the Duke, while Olivia falls more deeply in love with Cesario/Viola.
  • Sebastian arrives in Illyria.
  • Yellow stockings, dark rooms, challenges, and marriage proposals ensue.
Notes from the Director
Life is a Celebration

“Even so quickly may one catch the plague?”

Of course the answer to Olivia’s question is “yes, even that quickly” when speaking of both the stealthy hit of love and the deadly grip of sickness. This is especially true in 1602, the date of Twelfth Night’s first performance. With many thousands of Londoners dying every year from bubonic plague and no end in sight, what kind of world was left for the living? How might one exist in the wreckage left behind, much less find something as beautiful as love in it?

Twelfth Night is absolutely packed with rich motifs for a director to focus on in such an honorable exercise as the pre-show notes. The search for one’s other/ better half; the literal hunt for love; nature’s inconstancy and the inconstancy of our nature; and of course the end of the party – the Twelfth Night itself. So why choose the PLAGUE?

Because just as the shipwreck pulls us to an extraordinary land, the twins’ separation urges a fantastical search, and the hind spurs on a passionate chase, the plague brings us Shakespeare’s ode to life – Twelfth Night. The acknowledgment of death gifts the living with a reason to celebrate the simple and miraculous achievement of getting another day on earth, even when it is cold, painful, wanting, or cruel. Sickness can strike like lightning, and after that fashion, love can take hold even in an instant and seem to “purge the air of pestilence.” With Twelfth Night, Shakespeare offers a love letter to the breathing, and in it he relishes the many kinds of music that our perseverance can bring.

Survivors of this wreck that we all are, we who sit together today to hear this play, we’re alive, and that is cause for a celebration. Inside of that life, we can choose to concern ourselves with societal rigidities: the hours we keep, the respect we pay to the hierarchical order, the lonely clawing towards personal advancement; the pulling tight of our mourning veils, or we can choose to concern ourselves with joy: the songs we sing, the jests we pull, the friendships we forge, and all the perfectly wrong people with whom we fall in love. Knowing that this very well may be the last night of the party, with the sun just about to rise, which will it be?

It is with great joy that we offer Twelfth Night to you, to do with what you will.

Beth Burns

Guest Director