Cal Poly’s theatre and dance program has chosen the classic Shakespeare play “Twelfth Night, Or What You Will” as their Fall 2022 production. The play, which opened on Nov. 3 and will resume on Nov. 10-12, is filled with humor, music, romance and action.
“You say the words Shakespeare, immediately you are afraid. It’s because the words are heard and you don’t understand what it is you’re reading. But that’s because Shakespeare’s plays are meant to be seen, not read,” theater arts senior Carson Roman said. Roman plays Duke Orsino, a pivotal character in the show.
“Twelfth Night” paints the story of a young woman, Viola, disguised as a man in a foreign country called Illyria. Here, she mourns the loss of her brother as she encounters some foolish characters and falls in love.
While sticking to the original intentions of Shakespeare, some modern elements are worked into the play, as well. Fabian and Feste, two traditionally male characters, were reworked to be non-binary for this adaptation.
“This role helped me explore what this character [would] have been like in this time if they were non-binary. They might have explored fencing and other things men typically did in Illyria, while also exploring things that a woman might have enjoyed,” theater arts sophomore Ella Marchal, who plays Fabian, said. “It was interesting to analyze my character through this lens of being non-binary.”
The production is directed by Peter Hadres with help from many other talented staff and students, including composer and musical director George Walker and assistant director Jenna Brock. Hardres has over 20 years of experience with Shakespeare, providing the cast with new insights, perspectives and techniques.
“Peter showed how much [of] a map the pentameter can create. It feeds so much into the character and shows you what the focal point of each character is,” theater arts senior Jackie Morales said. Morales plays Viola in the production. “I feel that it’s easier to drop into character because you know their thoughts better than in modern texts.”
The cast has been rehearsing since the second week of the fall quarter. For some, it was their first time working with Shakespeare. For others, it was a welcomed reunion.
“I did Shakespeare a lot in high school and I really really love it. I knew right away that if I was going to be in a production this year, this would have been the one,” theater arts freshman Liam Armistead, who plays Antonio, said.
Tickets for “Twelfth Night” can be purchased online at tickets.calpoly.edu. All showings begin at 8 p.m.