Thursday, July 22, 2010

Show #38 "Twelfth Night" at Oregon Shakespeare Festival

When coming to the Shakespeare in Ashland class this year, Twelfth Night was the only play I was very familiar with. Of all the plays the Bard has ever written, this is my favorite.

We saw this play in the evening following our viewing of the marathon Hamlet. Everyone was a bit worn out because of that, so I think it took some of the students a while to get into the spirit of the event.

Not me. I had been looking forward to this show for months. I was not disappointed.

Some of the production elements puzzled me, such as the Astro-Turf set, the over-the-top portrayals of some of the characters and some of the costuming choices. But, that really didn't matter to me. This was Twelfth Night, and that meant fun and laughter.

Again, non-traditional casting was a refreshing change from the usual and expected. Setting the play during Mozart's time was visually colorful and entertaining. The farcical approach to the story served it well.

One of the objectives of the class I am taking is holding discussions about each play that we see. Our students hold varying opinions based on varying backgrounds and educational experiences. It usually is interesting to hear their comments. Sometimes it is enlightening.

In an academic setting, there is this tendency to over-think the elements of the show. Perhaps I am just a shallow actor, but I find this tendency amusing. I suspect Shakespeare himself wouldn't even have thought of many of these theses and debates about his scripts.

To me, "the play's the thing." I guess in this case that means I don't want to lose sight of the fact that these plays are, first and foremost, entertainment. Yes, there are deeper and complex issues that are explored within the plays, but they were written and performed to entertain a mass audience. When I am not on stage, I am part of that mass audience.

So, that means I want to have fun and laugh. As an actor, I can't help but analyze the actors' performances and choices, but outside of that, I am there to be entertained.

"Twelfth Night" did just that. Bravo.

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