By Jim Durham
News Bureau Director
In William Shakespeare’s comedies, often the secret lives of his characters aren’t always what they seem.
“Definitely…Shakespeare could’ve written (ABC’s) Desperate Housewives with characters who aren’t what they appear on the surface,” said Jeremy Larson, who portrays Feste in the National Players’ touring production of Twelfth Night in Georgetown College’s John L. Hill Chapel on Nov. 26. Curtain time for this Foust Artist Series performance is 8 p.m.
“You learn in this show, if you’re looking for love, you may have to put on a mask to get it,” said Larson, who was Pompey in Louisville’s Kentucky Shakespeare in the Park production of Measure for Measure this summer.
Director Clay Hopper wrote in the Players’ study guide: “In our production of Twelfth Night, the designers and I were struck by the fact that all of the characters endow others with what they want them to be. It’s as if they are so blinded by their desires that they (consciously or not) use all of their considerable ingenuity and energy to turn other people into what they are not. This allows them to fool themselves into thinking that what they are seeing in others is real.”
“They use whatever is around them to make the things that they need,” Hopper continued. “If they need a golden chalice, they use a plastic bottle. If they need money, they use buttons. If they need a candle, they use a flashlight stuck on plate. A piece of tightly wrapped fabric becomes a corset. An apron becomes a tailcoat…”
This popular comedy about twins Sebastian and Viola, who are separated by a shipwreck, is full of mistaken identities, misdirected passions, unrequited love, fools, reveling, and madness. But this version is set in Regency England (1811-1820). “As with any (of our productions) we aim to make the show as accessible as possible,” said Diana Fooksman, the company’s general manager. “With Shakespeare, his text lends itself to be presented in a variety of styles and time periods, and we try to choose one that helps to illustrate the themes in the story.”
“Our Twelfth Night is one of the funniest shows I have ever done,” said Larson, an ’07 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. “The fact that we are using golf clubs and canes for swords adds just another comic element to go only with the appearance of things.”
Many a common household item has been used to enhance the costumes – but in clever, cost-effective ways. Look closely at Olivia’s dress and the tails on the coats of Viola, Sebastian and Orsino – and just try to stifle a chuckle.
The National Players production of Twelfth Night is Monday, Nov. 26 in John L. Hill Chapel, right off Giddings Circle at Georgetown College. Curtain time is 8 p.m., with a running time of 2:25 including the 15-minute intermission. Tickets for this Foust Artist Series event, are $10 adults; $8 seniors; $5 students (other than Georgetown students). Call (502) 863-8041 for reservations.
Maryland-based National Players – America’s longest-running classical touring company, dating to 1949 – is made up of young professionals from the best college drama programs in the country. Since 1992, it has been the company in residence for the department of theatre at the University of Maryland, College Park. The National Players have received accolades from such luminaries as Walter Kerr, drama critic emeritus of The New York Times; Patrick Hayes, founder and managing director of the Washington Performing Arts Society; and the late Helen Hayes, first lady of the American theatre.