The third production of the 2016-2017 University Theatre season, “Twelfth Night,” opens on Friday and will be running in the Hemsley Theatre live for only three weekends. As a classic comedy by William Shakespeare, “Twelfth Night” would be a great weekend getaway from your mundane college life by traveling to 17th century Illyria, where a twin brother and sister, Sebastian and Viola, respectively, reunite after they are separated in a shipwreck. Both thought they lost each other, and both have experienced different lives and identities than what they once had. “Twelfth Night” will be both an engaging and relaxing performance, both with the intriguing adventures that the hero and heroine take and the variety of people they encounter on their journeys. The witty punchlines with wisdom—thanks to Shakespeare’s great gift in using language—and the hyperboles will certainly make you laugh.
Please don’t be scared off by “Shakespeare” and the fancy “thee,” “thou” and “thy” because of your failure to get an “A” in a Shakespeare English course. The “Twelfth Night” cast interprets the play not only by lines, but also by acting, which is a more straightforward and intricate way for the actors to communicate with you as the audience. Live theatre performance is able to bring you a show and an opportunity for audiences to experience the lives of the characters in the play.
The story is set in the 17th century when social class distinctions were significant, yet solace is that Shakespeare neglected these boundaries and let romance happen across them. Characters, regardless of whether they are from the noble class or servant class, fall in love with each other. Some of the protagonists disguise themselves to be a different gender for living. Dramas, ambiguities, hyperboles and disguises all add joy to the play.
There are hilarity upgrades in this particular production; the Department of Theatre and Drama describes the play as “an ‘East meets West’ experience—setting the play on a South Seas island at the beginning of the previous century and focusing on multiethnic and multicultural casting.” It sounds very American, doesn’t it? Diversity is a fundamental value in the U.S. today. I will save the mystery of how this affects the humor by restraining myself from spoiling anything. Gender blinding is an interesting feature as well. Actresses playing male roles and actors playing female roles may occur in our UW-produced “Twelfth Night!”
Born and raised in Hawaii, Professor David Furumoto in the Department of Theatre of Drama is the director of “Twelfth Night.” Furumoto is dedicated to bringing different cultures from various parts of the globe into theatre and will proudly bring the diverse traits of Hawaii to the Illyria. With battle scenes with swords and Hawaiian dancing and folk songs, “Twelfth Night” will surely be a visual feast for the audience to enjoy.
According to the latest update, tickets for the opening night have already sold out. Time is ticking!