Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The '53 in October - Twelfth Night

Although the nights are drawing in, ’53 members have their sights firmly fixed on the end of winter – more specifically, the Twelfth Night Feast which, in Shakespeare’s time, would have marked the end of the Winter Festival.

At the beginning of the Twelfth Night merrymaking, a cake that contained a bean was eaten. The person who found the bean would become the Lord of Misrule and the normal social order was reversed – for the duration of the feast, peasants became overlords and nobles became peasants. At midnight, as in many well-loved tales, the world would return to normal.

Shakespeare’s play, in which the heroine spends most of her time dressed as a man, and a servant believes that he can win the hand of a noblewoman clearly exploits this tradition, and it was written to be performed, we believe, at a Twelfth Night’s entertainment in 1602. And four hundred and ten years later, as the culmination of our collaboration with the RSC Open Stages project we bring it to you on the Saltburn stage, from the 17th to the 20th October.

Our Twelfth Night contains all those elements of misrule which you would expect from a production of the play – and a few more besides! One of our challenges has been to restore our award-winning extract (Oh, oh,
Malvolio!) to its rightful place within the full play and to extend the fun and the mischief of the comic trio, Sir Toby, his dim-witted sidekick, Sir Andrew and the ever- resourceful Maria.

The music, which was a key feature of the extract, is equally important in the full production and audiences can expect a range from beautiful madrigal to foot-tapping music hall, in the play to which Shakespeare himself gave the most music.

For us, the music hall tradition was particularly resonant, permeated as it was with a sense of transgression and an ability to mock the established social order without giving any real offence. And of course it does contain some of the most suggestive lines in vocal music...!

In the best tradition of misrule, you can expect to see a very different Twelfth Night but one which aims to preserve the essential spirit of the original. Both youth and adult members of the company promise you a lively and entertaining evening, with the colourful costumes, musical talent and imaginative set design of a ’53 Shakespeare production.

Come along – you are warmly invited to take part in the fun and merrymaking which will banish the early winter chills!


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