Springing into Shakespeare

Posted: April 12, 2013

Minnehaha Academy Players present a modern twist on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

As the ice melted outside, a group of students enjoyed sunny, warm weather-or at least they imagined it, since that will be the setting of the school’s production of Twelfth Night. Twelfth Night is a Shakespearean comedy that has been performed many times and adapted to film with different spins, the most well-known being the movie She’s the Man. Minnehaha is taking a contemporary look on the play, using Shakespearean language but putting it in a more timely setting to be more relatable.

Having done Midsummer Night’s Dream two years ago, several actors asked Freeman if they could do another Shakespeare play because they enjoyed it so much.

“I loved doing Shakespeare so much freshman year, and I really wanted to do it again,” said junior actor Carter Schuld.

Director Nicholas Freeman listened to their thoughts and agreed.

“I wanted to honor those who were interested in doing Shakespeare again,” Freeman said. “I love the message of this play. How do we hide behind our identities and make choices in our lives that stifle us from making ourselves vulnerable. How do we, as people, cover up or disguise ourselves in order for other people to not see who we are?”

Minnehaha’s production of Twelfth Night debuted last night at 7:30 pm in the North Campus chapel and continues tonight and tomorrow. It’s a black box production, which means that the audience sits on stage and the actors act around them. Midsummer Night’s Dream was also a black box production.

At the core of this play is a messy love triangle. Freeman is using triangles throughout the whole production, hoping that the audience will be able to see the different triangles that are in our everyday life.

“What are the good triangles in our life and what are the messy ones?” said Freeman. “For example my wife and I, in our marriage, have a triangle that we like to use with God at the top. So the closer that we become to God, the closer that we can become to one another.”

This theme extends to the set, stage and plot.

“How we stand in dialogue every time comes to some sort of a triangle,” said senior John Hellevik. “The stage in every part is a triangle. The scenes when we’re in my palace it’s a triangle, Lady Olivia’s palace is a triangle and the rest of it cuts out to be a triangle as well.”

Triangles are incorporated on the stage and also as you walk into the chapel. In the plot there is the love triangle between Orsino, Olivia and Viola, along with Cesario, who is really Viola dressed up as a boy.

Even though they are taking a contemporary style to the play, they will still be using Shakespearean language. This brings up a few challenges for the actors.

“Not only is trying to fully understand the language difficult, even harder is finding a way to convey that to an audience who won’t fully understand most of what you’re saying,” said Schuld. “You really have to rely on facial expressions and gestures.”

Sophomore actress Caroline Pellegrin agrees.

“I don’t know if [the audience] will understand the whole thing because [of the language],” said Pellegrin. “But I definitely think they’ll connect with our triangle theme.”

Freeman is working with his actors and actresses to get through this difficulty. They need to make sure they understand the whole script and have to be clear so the audience can understand them.

“We work very hard at making sure that as actors and as the director that we understand everything that’s being said,” said Freeman. “If we don’t understand it we have to stop and truly dissect it. Sometimes Shakespeare will give one word but there are several different meanings to it. So our actors have to be very clear with how they’re speaking.”

“One of the big things this play examines is identity,” said Schuld. “I hope that people are able to not only enjoy the jokes, but also look beyond that as to what the play actually has to say.”

Twelfth Night will run tonight at 7:30 pm and Saturday at 2:30 and 7:30 pm.

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