Snake Oil: Rehearsals Part II


by Christian Riboldi, dramaturg

Welcome back to the 4th wall! We are in our second week of our tour of Twelfth Night. Last time we were able to learn a little bit more about how we have used rehearsals to overcome the challenge of deeply understanding the language and story of Twelfth Night. Today I’d like to share how we’ve used that knowledge from rehearsal to tell the story in a way that makes everyone else feel like they understand the story just as well as we do.

First lets start with the mediums that we as theater practitioners have to tell stories. We have body language, vocal intonation, music, costumes, set, sound effects and props. Basically in this production that is it. Now that is a lot to work with, but it’s difficult for it all to work together to tell one cohesive story.

This process of collaboration began months before rehearsals with the production team and designers. The main duty of the designers was to use their different mediums tell the story that supported Professor Jones vision for this show. Here’s one of the designs for the set from Professor Scanlon.

Twelfth Night Backdrop

Fast forward two months and we were starting rehearsals with the memorized actors. The main first immediate concern for the production was adding the musical element to the show so that the story was completely cohesive and made sense. Obviously music takes a while to rehearse especially when we needed to incorporate live instruments, singing, dancing and percussion. This was the main focus of most of the rehearsals and we used the time in between singing to block and rehearse the scenes between the songs.

The challenge with music and choreography is that is needs constant attention and practice in order to stay crisp. So as we continued on with the individual scenes we still focused heavily of rehearsing and refining the songs during each of our 6 hour rehearsals. Continue reading

Snake Oil: Rehearsals Part I

Toby and Maria being directed by Professor Jones

Toby and Maria being directed by Professor Jones

by Christian Riboldi, dramaturg

Last week we closed our doors to the BYU audiences and this week we began our traveling tour. Recently on our blog we were able to learn a little bit about each of our cast members in order to learn how each on is a little different from the other.

This show has been an adventure from the start. For those of you unaware of how long Young Company productions have to be rehearsed it’s only about 4 weeks total. That’s not a lot of time to put together an entire show let alone a piece of Shakespeare. For everything to work we needed efficient rehearsals that could serve as effective problem solving sessions. The only thing that could solve our issues was rehearsal, our metaphorical snake oil. The cure for all the challenges that come with putting on a production quickly.

The two main challenges we needed to overcome during the rehearsal process were understanding the language and story of Shakespeare, and sharing that story in a way that helps others, especially kids, to understand and enjoy the story as well. In this blog post we will focus on how we overcame the first challenge during the rehearsal process.

Before our rehearsals began, our talented adapter Rick Curtiss, the director Professor Jones, and myself, worked for over a month on cutting the script down from a 3 hour show to a 50 minute show that contained only the essential characters and scenes in it. As a part of that process we passed around draft after draft, checking for gaps in the placement of the scenes and the lines. One of the goals of Professor Jones was to maintain Shakespeare’s language throughout the entire play. So aside from the songs, and a few western expletives, every word of the play is in the original script.

Sebastian discovering how sad he needs to be. Professor Jones directing

Sebastian discovering how sad he needs to be. Professor Jones directing

By the time the script was ready we had just cast the show with our amazing actors you learned about last time. Our first rehearsal with the actors was about understanding the vision of the director and how Twelfth Night helped tell that story. The first few rehearsals were all done from a table reading through the script and trying to understand what the meaning of certain phrases and words were. If anyone had a question about a phrase we wrote it down and kept moving. By the time Christmas break came we had read through the play a couple times and answered most of the questions that had arisen through reading the script. Continue reading

Who’s the Troupe!?: Part II

Twelfth Night Cast

Twelfth Night Cast

by Christian Riboldi, dramaturg

Well we have officially opened! The show is going great and we were happy to see many of you come out and support us. For those of you who are still planning on making it, we are excited to see you soon!

Last post we were able to get to know half of our cast members a little bit better than the programs allow you to. Today we’d like to get to know the rest of the cast as well. I feel like the more you get to know about a person the more you get to know them as an individual. I hope that as you get to know our cast you realize how different individuals can come together to make something great. Their differences don’t hurt the process rather they make it richer and more fulfilling.

Without further ado here is the rest of the cast!

Scott Jackson playing Orsino

Scott Jackson playing Orsino

Scott Jackson – plays Orsino

Scott studies marketing in the Marriott School. Before transferring to BYU, he studied dual drama/English and education degrees at Queen’s University, Canada. At BYU, he manages the Prop shop and has designed the props for many department shows since fall 2014 (including this one). Onstage he has performed as Melchizedek in a mask-club adaption of “the Alchemist” (fall 2014) and danced in two “Christmas Around the World” productions. He has enjoyed this wonderful opportunity.

  • What is your favorite line that your character says in the show?
    “Oh, thou dissembling cub!”
  • What is one random fact about you?
    I speak Spanish.
  • Where is the furthest place you have traveled and why did you go there?
    The Netherlands for a high school history trip.
  • How many kids are in your family? And where do you fit into the mix?
    I have 2 older sisters and a younger sister and brother. The Jackson 5!!
  • What is your favorite book?
    The Harry Potter Series…or Lord of the Rings…or many others.
  • What is your favorite T.V. show?
    Avatar: The last Airbender and of The Adventures of Kora…or Once upon a Time.
  • What is your favorite Movie?
    Stardust…or Ghost town
  • What is your favorite animal?
    Komodo Dragon
  • What is your type of favorite food?
    Pizza…but I shouldn’t really eat dairy.
  • What was your first theater show and how old were you?
    An original play for Christmas. I was the abominable snowman. I was about 12 years old.

Continue reading

Who’s the Troupe!?: Part I

Twelfth Night Cast

Twelfth Night Cast

by Christian Riboldi, dramaturg

Welcome back to the 4th Wall! Tonight is opening night for our production! It’s going to be such a blast we can’t wait for you to come see the show! Make sure to come a few minutes early to make your very own fake mustache that you can wear into the play!

As you’ve seen in our past posts, we’ve been putting a lot of work into this show behind the scenes. Today, in preparation for you coming to see the show, I’d like for you to get to know the casts just a little bit more. In your program you’re going to be able to read a little bit about each cast member. I’m going to include those biographies here. However, there’s only so much information you can get out of cast biographies that have to meet a certain standard for BYU productions. Our main theme for this show is to be true to yourself. I would like to help you get to know our cast members and who they really are. Because they are pretty amazing people.

In preparation for today’s posts I sent around a survey to the cast and asked them to answer the following questions as honestly as they could. It was really fun to see their reactions because sometimes they had to think really hard to narrow down their answers.

Here is half of our cast and a little bit about each of them.

1601-33 2671601-33 Twelfth Night PlayBYU Young Company production of Twelfth Night. January 19, 2016Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU© BYU PHOTO 2016All Rights (801)422-7322

Savanah Smith playing Viola

Sherry Kopischke – plays Viola

From Vancouver, Washington. Senior in theater arts studies with a minor in nonprofit management. Last seen as Liana in the BYU adaption of Princess Academy. Upon her return from the Alpine German-Speaking Mission, she met her husband and they have been happily married since August.

  • What is your favorite line that your character says in the show?
    My favorite part is the Viola reveal, “that I am Viola!”
  • What is one random fact about you?
    I love Reese’s peanut butter cups.
  • Where is the furthest place you have traveled and why did you go there?
    Northern Italy; an exchange on my LDS mission. Or Vienna for Mission Zone Conferences. I’m not sure.
  • How many kids are in your family? And where do you fit into the mix?
    Four and I’m the second oldest.
  • What is your favorite book?
    Oooohh tough question. I love to read the Chronicles of Narnia, but it’s hard to pick a favorite.
  • What is your favorite T.V. show?
  • What is your favorite movie?
  • What is your favorite animal?
  • What is your type of favorite food?
    German food. Bratwurst, Schnitzel, Rotkohl, Raclette…yuummmmm!
  • What was your first theater show and how old were you?
    In 4th grade my elementary school did a little Disney pageant program, I got to be Sleeping Beauty – my favorite princess at the time. Now I’m a big Rapunzel fan.
BYU Young Company production of Twelfth Night.January 19, 2016Photo by Jaren WilkeyBYU© BYU PHOTO 2016All Rights (801)422-7322

Cameron Bridston playing Feste

Cameron Birdston – plays Feste

Cameron Bridston has been performing from a very young age. He has been playing trombone since he was twelve, and has been singing since even earlier. When he isn’t onstage with the young company, he is either writing music, recording music, or performing his over the top original music for any crowd that will hear him. Notable roles include a lamb in a production of The Christmas Story, and the Bill of Rights in his Elementary School performance of The American Revolution Musical. Continue reading

The Ballad of the West

TwelfthNightby Christian Riboldi, dramaturg

As we discussed last time, Shakespeare has been changed and adapted over time for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s in order to be true to Shakespeare, and other times it’s purpose is to appeal to a different audience.

In our version of Twelfth Night we have set the stage in the Wild West. Sebastian and Viola were separated in tornado and now Viola finds herself in a town called Illyria. But this isn’t your regular western Shakespearean town. It’s a town where everyone can sing and dance…well almost everyone.

As you can imagine, cutting Twelfth Night down from 140 minutes to 50 minutes is a major feat. In order to do so many scenes and a few characters were merged with others in order to simplify and essentialize the plot. In addition to cutting, a few musical numbers are added throughout the script to clarify and connect one scene to another. Our script adapter Rick Curtiss and our director Professor Jones did an amazing job creating the lyrics to accompany these comical musical parodies

Every song that is in this show is an original parody of a famous western song and will be sung and accompanied by our talented cast. We have a guitar, trombone, tambourine, ukulele, percussion, and even a cow bell.

As an example here are some of the lyrics to a song sung by Sebastian as he enters sung to the tune “I’m So Lonesome, I Could Cry”.
I bet you all forgotten me,
I’m an unlucky guy,
Stuck out in the desert alone,
I’m so thirsty I might die.
I only had one can of beans,
for when the end was nigh,
a coyote came and stole the can,
I’m so hungry I might die.
At night the critters crawl on me,
by day the vultures fly,
I met a snake, it bit my foot,
I’m so poisoned I might die.Hey what is that up on the ridge,
Is that a ranch I spy,
I hope it has some pretty girls,
If not, I just might die.

Continue reading

The many Phaces of the Moon

by Christian Riboldi, dramaturg

TwelfthNightLast time we had a brief overview of the play Twelfth Night. Today we’ll be talking about a few for the versions of Twelfth Night that are currently out there today.

One of the great things about Shakespeare is it’s timelessness. These are stories that will be told and retold over and over again, because of how they speak each of us.

Over the years Shakespeare has been performed in a multitude of genres. The most well known Shakespearean style is perform it as accurate to Shakespeare’s time as possible. The Globe Theater has recently put together one such performance. It’s not only accurate in how they dress but in the types of actors they use. In the times of Shakespeare all actors were male. Even the female characters were played by male actors. Here are two very funny clips from Twelfth Night performed at The Globe that show this style of Shakespeare. Continue reading

What in the blazin’ is a Twelfth Night?

by Christian Riboldi, dramaturg

Welcome back to the 4th Wall. Today we’re going to cover the basic overview of the plot for Twelfth Night. Unlike Romeo and Juliet, the plot for Twelfth Night might not be as widely known to most of you. I know I had to brush up my Shakespeare in order to remember.

First let’s cover our basic characters.

Orsino: He’s a…you guessed it, duke, who is in love with Olivia.
Olivia: A wealthy maid who is the fairest of them all.
Viola: Twin to Sebastian and main heroine of the story. When dressed as a boy she goes by the name Cesario.
Sebastian: Twin to Viola. Get’s lost at he very beginning of the story.
Malvolio: Servant to Viola and in charge of the other servants. A little on the snooty side.
Sir Toby: Olivia’s Uncle. He’s a little loud and good friends with Feste and Maria.
Feste: The town fool. In this town he is a man of many talents.
Maria: Olivia’s hand maiden, though she quite spunky.

Joseph Timms as Sebastian (left) and Samuel Barnett as Viola (right) in the Globe Theater.

There you have it. In this cutting of our show those are all of the characters.

The show starts out with Sebastian and Viola getting separated by a storm. The now desperate Viola decides that to make it on her own she will need to find work, which she can’t to as a woman, so she dresses as a man and calls herself Cesario.

Cesario get’s hired by Orsino and is told to run an errand to tell the fair Olivia that Orsino is still in love with her. Viola does this but begins to realize that she likes Orsino, and wishes that he liked her back. While at Olivia’s, Viola/Cesario is so good at wooing that Olivia begins to fall for Cesario.

Meanwhile Malvolio is telling off all of the servants and Sir Toby for being rowdy, so Sir Toby, Feste, and Maria decide to play a trick on Malvolio. Maria writes a letter pretending she is Olivia declaring her love for Malvolio. The letter convinces Malvolio that Olivia is really in love with him.

Sebastian has now finally found his way back after the storm. When he enters the town Olivia throws herself at him, thinking that he is Cesario and tells him that they need to get married right now. Sebastian is surprised but goes along with it because it’s not everyday that he has women begging to marry him.

In the end Malvolio makes a fool of himself, Sebastian and Viola reunite, and Viola and Orsino get married.

Finally after all of this you may be wondering to yourself, what in the world does this have to do with a Twelfth Night? A lot of people wonder the same thing. I think it would be best to let one of our character explain what it seems to be referring to.

This is a snippet from an explanation Malvolio offers at the beginning or our version of the show. Continue reading

Tippin’ the hat to the Ol’ Taleteller


by Christian Riboldi, dramaturg

Welcome back to the 4th wall. The purpose of these blog posts is provide our audiences with inside information about these productions to enhance their experience with the show. This may include information about rehearsals, background research, and even sneak peaks into what the show will look like.

As you know, recently we were able to begin our rehearsals for Twelfth Night. This week I’d like to share some little known facts about Shakespeare and his life. I hope that in preparation for Twelfth Night, getting to know Shakespeare a little better will help all of us appreciate his masterful work more. So let’s take a moment and get to know the Bard of Avon.

  • William Shakespeare was born in a town called Stratford-upon-Avon on or near April 23rd 1564. William was the third child of eight in his family. His parents most likely couldn’t read or write.
  • William got married at age 18 to Anne Hathaway; they had 8 children with one set of twins.
  • It’s believed that William started his career as an actor, and he acted in many of his own shows.
  • In the time of William Shakespeare, a bard was a poet who shared his poems by reciting them to others. One of Shakespeare’s common titles is “The Great Bard” because he his seen by many as the most influential writer and storyteller in the English language.
  • Shakespeare was a literary genius. In his time, some of the laborers had a vocabulary of 300 words of less. Shakespeare, on the other hand, used 28,829 unique word forms in his works.
  • A wordsmith is an inventor of words. Shakespeare invented over 1700 words that we now use in our everyday language.
  • As a poet and playwright, Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets and 37 plays. Most of Shakespeare’s writing is poetic.
  • Shakespeare wrote most of his plays in a poetic style called iambic pentameter. Iambic pentameter is a style of writing where every line has exactly 10 syllables, and every other syllable is a little stronger than the one before it. For example, the opening line of Twelfth Night is: “If music be the food of love, play on;”
  • Shakespeare’s sonnets usually rhyme and are all exactly 14 lines longs.
  • A successful businessman, Shakespeare bought expensive property throughout Stratford, and was a co-owner of the Globe Theater.

Continue reading

Twelfth Night: Wild and Wooly


by Christian Riboldi, Dramaturg

Today is the start of an exciting adventure. We, as the BYU Young Company, our gearing up for our production of Twelfth Night. So far, it’s been great to get to know each other and the show that we’ll be performing for elementary schools throughout Utah.

My name is Christian Riboldi and I’m the dramaturg for the BYU Young Company’s production of Twelfth Night. I just over a month from today we will be opening in the Nelke Theater.

Unlike other BYU main stage productions, Young Company shows run for just over two months straight! During the first two weeks of the play we will hold 9 performances at BYU for the general audience, after which we will begin to travel twice a week to different schools throughout Utah. We are excited to introduce the world of Shakespeare to these children, and we hope to bring you a smile and many laughs.

One of the reasons we are so excited to bring this show to life is because of its unique and fun adaptation. As you can imagine, it’s quite the task to take a three hour work of Shakespeare and whittle it down to an understandable 45 minute show, while maintaining its integrity.

And that’s just what we’ve done. Continue reading