Twelfth Night: Chicago Shakespeare Theatre Presents the Bard's Comedy
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The last date listed for Twelfth Night was Friday June 5, 2009 / 7:30pm.
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One of the most beloved dance stories of all time hustles its way onstage at Drury Lane Theatre in… More
Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) on Navy Pier concludes its 2008/09 subscription season with Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare’s rollicking comedy of disorder and revelry staged by London’s Bush Theatre Artistic Director Josie Rourke. CST’s Courtyard Theater stage will be flooded with water to create the coast of the imaginary world in which the play is set.
Josie Rourke, a celebrated director of both classical and contemporary theater, makes her Chicago debut directing Twelfth Night. Ms. Rourke was recently appointed Artistic Director of London’s Bush Theatre, a 36-year-old company that focuses on the development and presentation of new plays. The theatre has supported a number of successful new playwrights including David Eldridge, Neil LaBute, Conor McPherson and Stephen Poliakoff and, under Rourke’s leadership, was able to reverse major funding cuts threatened by Arts Council England last year, making her one of England’s foremost voices for not-for-profit theaters. Rourke has held positions at the Donmar Warehouse, Sheffield Theatres and the Royal Court and has directed a number of critically acclaimed productions, including David Mamet’s The Cryptogram starring Kim Cattrall and Douglas Henshall at the Donmar Warehouse and Believe What You Will and King John for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Collaborating with Rourke, and in the European tradition of designing both the Elizabethan costumes and scenic design for the production, is renowned designer Lucy Osborne who will fill CST’s thrust stage with nearly 7,000 gallons of water to create the coast of the dreamlike land of Illyria. “We wanted to set the play on a pier—on this pier here in Chicago,” says Osborne. “There’s something about a pier that suggests a voyage into the unknown. People like venturing out, we like to go out into open spaces, and pleasure piers are just fundamentally playful and sort of decadent.” Ms. Osborne’s extensive theater credits include designs for the Bush Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse, Northampton Theatre Royal, Edinburgh Festival and Cambridge Arts Theatre.
Often regarded as Shakespeare’s “most perfect comedy,” Twelfth Night is set in the make-believe country of Illyria where “nothing that is so, is so.” Sebastian and Viola―twins separated in a shipwreck―wash ashore on the strange land, each thinking the other dead. The tale of mistaken identities and mismatched loves is set into motion when Viola disguises herself as a man to serve as a page in the court of the love-sick Duke Orsino. She becomes enamored with the Duke who pines for the Countess Olivia, who in turn wants nothing to do with him and instead falls in love with the Duke’s new page. As the confusion persists, the surly Sir Toby Belch and his fellow pranksters humiliate the brooding steward, Malvolio, for trying to curb their merriment. Throughout all the chaos, Sebastian and Viola find each other and all, with the exception of an irate Malvolio, are reconciled.
The Twelfth Night acting company features many of Chicago Shakespeare’s most familiar faces who, over the years, have played hundreds of roles on the Courtyard Theater stage, including: Scott Jaeck (Much Ado About Nothing, The Merchant of Venice) as Sir Toby Belch; Ross Lehman (The Comedy of Errors, The Merry Wives of Windsor) as Feste; Mark L. Montgomery (Troilus and Cressida, Rose Rage: Henry IV Parts 1, 2 and 3) as Orsino and Larry Yando (Cymbeline, The Tempest, Two Gentlemen of Verona) as Malvolio. Karen Aldridge―seen earlier this season at CST in Macbeth and Edward II―returns as Olivia. Also returning to CST are: Joel Stanley Huff (Macbeth) as First Officer; Ora Jones (A Flea in Her Ear, The Merry Wives of Windsor) as Maria; Dan Kenney (The Comedy of Errors, The Merry Wives of Windsor) as Andrew Aguecheek; John Lister (Edward II, A Winter’s Tale) as Sea Captain/Priest; Dan Sanders-Joyce (Amadeus, The Comedy of Errors) as Fabian and Chris Sullivan (Edward II) as Antonio. Making their CST debuts as the shipwrecked twins Viola and Sebastian are Michelle Beck and Peterson Townsend. Additional cast members include: Creighton Hofeditz as Musician; Dominic Johnson as Musician; Cristina Panfilio as Gentlewoman; Edgar Miguel Sanchez as Valentine and Jack Scott as Musician. Rounding out the ensemble are Walter Owen Briggs, Brandon Ford and Jonathan Helvey.
Twelfth Night’s production team includes Lighting Designer Robert Wierzel, Sound Designer James Savage, Wig and Makeup Designer Melissa Veal, Composer Alaric Jans and Properties Master Kate Glodoski.