by Christian Riboldi, dramaturg
Last 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.
Another medium for performing Shakespeare is film.
A slightly more realistic take of this story is Kenneth Branagh’s version of Twelfth Night. In this version he doesn’t try to be true to Shakespeare’s times, but he does keep the production stage like. Though it’s a film notice that every scene is set up like a stage, with the camera being the audience. If you’re interested in watching the whole thing or just poking around the scenes here is the full production.
Still more movie like is the 1969 version. Where the illusion of the stage is completely dropped, and with some movie magic the same actress plays both Viola and Sebastian. If you pay attention you might recognize the actor for Malvolio from a special film he’s famous for.
Now we get into the movies that drop all sense of the stage and turn Twelfth Night into a full movie.
These are just a few of the ways that Shakespeare has been performed over time. There are also movies like She’s the Man which is based on the plot of Twelfth Night. That movie however removes all of Shakespeare’s words altogether and just uses some names and basic plot points to tell it’s story. It also changes the time period to a modern high school.
Here in the BYU production we are going to be performing the show on stage, but the time period is going to be drastically changed to the Wild West. Even thought the show has been shortened significantly, almost every word we have in the script is part of the original Shakespeare. We hope to see you there.
Next time we are going to focus on one of the fun ways that we have made this show into a western musical! See you then!