Theatre presents Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’

Photo from NIU's production of "Twelfth Night"The plays of William Shakespeare are some of the most recognizable and beloved productions in the world.

Beginning Thursday, Oct. 21, the NIU School of Theatre and Dance will present its interpretation of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” on the stage of the Stevens Building O’Connell Theatre on the DeKalb campus.

The classic Shakespearean comedy follows Viola, a young woman separated from her twin brother in a ship wreck and stranded in the unknown land of Illyria. Disguising herself as a pageboy under the local Duke Orsino, Viola falls in love with her employer.

However, Viola acts as messenger for Orsino, delivering his love letters to Lady Olivia. The love triangle is complete when Olivia falls in love with Viola dressed as a pageboy.

Alexander Gelman, the director of the NIU production, believes that “Twelfth Night” is a play driven by interpretation.

“The highlight of any Shakespearean play is the language,” Gelman says. “Any uniqueness of the production is in the interpretation, be it by the director, the actors or even the audience.”

Gelman sees the play as being one of questions to be curious about. In his second time directing “Twelfth Night,” Gelman says he is “curious about the way that established modes of being come in conflict with our own desires and wishes.”

Photo from NIU's production of "Twelfth Night"Rather than attempt to answer his own questions about the play, Gelman leaves it to each member of the audience to interpret for his or herself. He wants the audience “to see what jumps out at them.”

A major part of interpreting the play, for crew and audience, is costuming. The NIU production will utilize an eclectic mix of modern costume as opposed to the use of classic Elizabethan costume.

“I drew heavily on the French New Wave films that came out of France in the late 1950s and early 1960s,” costume designer Angela Enos says. “(T)hat sort of disheveled, effortlessly chic style fit very well with our vision of Illyria.”

Enos is not restricted to any one period of influence though.

“(T)here are many, many influences in the creation of each character’s look, in addition to all the sources that inspire the other designers and the performers, which result in this fabulous creation of something totally individual,” she says.

The unique expression of the production is built upon the timelessness of the text. “(We are) looking at (this) play as if it was a brand new play,” Gelman says. “(Shakespeare’s plays) are still performed today because they are great, not because they are old.”

“Twelfth Night” will be performed in the O’Connell Theatre from Thursday, Oct, 21, through Sunday, Oct. 24, and from Thursday, Oct. 28, through Sunday, Oct. 31. Weeknight and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday performances at 2 p.m.

Tickets have been on sale since Oct. 4. Ticket prices are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $8 for students.

Tickets can be purchased from the Stevens Building box office in the lobby of the Stevens Building on the DeKalb campus. It is open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from noon to 2 p.m. Friday and one hour before show times.

Tickets also can be purchased online. For more information, call the box office at (815) 753-1600.

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