A Shakespearian love story which showcases a tangled web of desire will be staged by the Red Deer College theatre students.
Twelfth Night opens tomorrow night at the Arts Centre at 7:30 p.m. Additional evening performances run Feb. 10-11, 14-15, 16-17 and 18. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. for all evening shows. There are also matinees on Feb. 11 and 18 with show times at 1 p.m.
Twelfth Night is one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays and one of literature’s best-loved comedies. With its confused desires, mistaken identities and a dash of cross-dressing, guest director Duval Lang, who is from Calgary, unpacks the mischief and madness the characters endure to find love despite the boundaries of the suffocating social stigma of the day.
“It’s a story about the pursuit of true love and the journey that some of the characters take to find that. It’s a comedy that has a bunch of gender-bending in it,” said Lang. “It’s kind of the sitcom of the times.”
Shipwrecked and alone on the shores of Illyria, Viola believes her brother has drowned. She disguises herself as a pageboy in order to enter the service of Duke Orsino of Illyria, who proceeds to send her to woo the beautiful Olivia on his behalf. Things are bound to get worse before they get better when Viola falls in love with Orsino and when Olivia finds herself falling for the cross-dressed Viola.
“I love the fact that there is so much hidden humour within the text that you don’t see or appreciate when you just read it. Shakespeare was never meant to be just read or studied. It was meant to be performed,” said Lang. “So when you get up on your feet and you learn the rhythm of the text you uncover a wealth of humour. There’s lots of humour within the text but there is some, if not more, when you get up off your feet.”
The Twelfth Night set is intricately designed and the costumes have a modern edge to them.
To create the fictional country of Illyria, set designer Carrie Hamilton and costume designer Bryan Bast use elements of steampunk. Steampunk is a sub-genre of speculative fiction often used to feature futuristic innovations as Victorians might have envisioned them. Victorian patterns mixed with large motorized elements, a spinning staircase and an orchard where trees are made out of cable are just a few of the creative elements of the stunning set.
Meanwhile, Lang added Shakespeare is something that is still relevant even today.
“It ties in because of the relationships. Everyone once you get into junior high is obsessed with the opposite sex and how to present themselves in the best possible way to win someone. That’s where it starts and then it doesn’t stop,” said Lang. “The fact that it has been around for 400 years is a testament to its success.”
If anything, Lang said the style of writing that was used in Shakespearian times was significantly different.
“Our average sentences today are maybe a dozen words or so and theirs was four times that. They spoke differently and they used different air. They used a lot of air in their spoken words. They also relied a great deal on wit. There wasn’t any television or really any media. But mostly people interacted by showing off how witty they were.”
He added some of the highlights of working with students and staff at RDC include their willingness to dive into the play.
“The cast and design team had a willingness to throw themselves into the world of Shakespeare and the world of this play with joyous abandon. That has been the most delightful discovery.”
Tickets for all performances are available through the Black Knight Ticket Centre 403-755-6626 or at www.bkticketcentre.ca.