"More than a publication"

TWELFTH NIGHT at Drayton Hall Theatre

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Date(s) - 10/12/2017
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Drayton Hall Theatre


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*Additional Matinee show at 3 pm on October 14th, 2017

One of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays, Twelfth Night is a madcap tale of mistaken identity and unrequited love.  After a shipwreck, twins Sebastian and Viola become stranded — and separated —  on the island kingdom of Illyria.  To survive, Viola disguises herself as a boy (Cesario), so she can work for the nobleman Orsino, whom she secretly loves.  Her new identity piques the romantic interest of the Lady Olivia, who is being courted by Orsino.  When Viola’s long-lost brother shows up and is mistaken by Olivia as Cesario, the love triangle becomes even more delightfully entangled.  Veteran Shakespearean director Louis Butelli (Folger Theatre, Aquila Theatre Co.) is shaping this Bard favorite into a fun, music-filled delight, with a design evoking the “Golden Age of Hollywood.”

“It’s not meta, like we’re actually on a film set,” Butelli says. “But, it is inspired by old Hollywood — the color palette, the cut of the clothes, that sort of thing.   A technicolor wonderland.”

Using old Hollywood imagery as an overarching concept works well on several levels with Shakespeare’s complex comedy, Butelli says.

“The plot is very intricate and the relationships are sometimes ambiguous,” says the director.  “This conceptualization means we can assign each of the subplots to a different film genre or old Hollywood trope, and help the audience’s comprehension by using very clear visual cues that differentiate each subplot’s style.  The framework also helps in that the play starts in this very glossy, artificial place, and then as the truth eventually comes out, the characters’ humanity starts to burn through the Hollywood gloss.”

Adding to the cinematic aesthetic will be prominent video projections, created by scenic designer Nic Ularu and videographer Noah Valentim.  “The video screen is an instant metaphor,” says Butelli, “but it also allows us the flexibility to differentiate between locations.  And, we thought it would be great to have animated backdrops, to see water moving or a tree blowing in the breeze. It adds a bit of life, and frankly just makes it a little more Hollywood.”

Music will also be a significant element of the production, as the multi-instrumentalist cast will perform songs that Shakespeare wrote for the play itself (set to original music by NYC-based composer Matthew Marsh), as well as popular standards of the old Hollywood era.  There are even plans to use the intermission to stage a mini-concert that will lead into the production’s second act.

“Thematically, music is a really important part of the play as the playwright gave it to us,” says Butelli.  “It just feels like music is a really necessary ingredient to fuel these characters on their journey.”

The director says his ultimate goal is to create a production that does what Shakespeare intended — keep the audience entertained.

“The playwright wants us to engage our audience, and so I think we should honor and respect that, and maybe even go a little further than he would have imagined.  We’re in a world where people constantly have their faces in their phones, and only connecting with each other visually and electronically.  What we do as theatre artists is something that no other medium can do, and that’s to engage them directly as flesh and blood creatures.”

Appearing in Twelfth Night are second-year MFA Acting students Gabriela CastilloKaleb EdleyKimberly GaughanDarrell JohnstonDonavon St. Andre, and Nicolas Stewart, and undergraduate students Lochlan AngleReilly LucasAndy RatliffJohn Romanski, and Lindsey Sheehan.  Lighting design for the production is by Professor Jim Hunter.  Costume design is by Assistant Professor Kristy Hall.  Sound designer for the production is Danielle Wilson.

“It’s a big production,” Butelli says, “but really it’s a very simple story about love in all its many iterations.  The kind of love that we yearn for and don’t get. The kind where it’s love at first sight.  The kind where it’s frustrated love.  All the different ways that humans love are represented in this play.”

“If we do it all right, the love part will be what people walk away with.”

For more information on Twelfth Night or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at bushk@mailbox.sc.edu.