ACT puts 20th century twist on “Twelfth Night”

By Danielle Silvia
Production Manager 

Senior English and communication studies double major Scott Glading wanted to bring Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” to life for a contemporary audience. As director of All College Theatre’s first major production of the year, he put a 1930s spin on the playwright’s classic.

Orsino and Viola test the strength of their romance. (Kelly Ganning / Staff Photographer)

From Wednesday, Oct. 3 to Saturday, Oct. 6, ACT performed the classic comedy in the Don Evans Black Box Theater in Kendall Hall. It was produced by Sam Franz, a junior English and communication studies double major, and Jill Merbach, a junior marketing major.

ACT’s Twelfth Night tells the story of siblings, Viola (played by senior math major Rebecca Conn) and Sebastian (played by senior science Political Science major Robert Hicks), who were separated after a shipwreck, but then unite in a foreign land. They find themselves intertwined in a love triangle.

Orsino (played by Alec Skwara, a senior secondary education and history major) is in love with and eventually rejected by Olivia (played by Sydney Blanchard, a sophomore English major). Viola makes her way into Orsino’s land after the shipwreck disguised as a male under the alias Cesario. Meanwhile, Viola is falling in love with Orsino, but Olivia is infatuated with Cesario, not knowing that he is truly Viola.

Conn was thrilled to play Viola and enjoyed every moment of the production process.

“It was a great experience to put on this show with both the cast and crew,” she said. “Everyone’s worked so hard and it really shines through when you’re performing.”

The plot thickens as each character begins to reveal his or her true identity with many elements of comedy sprinkled within.

Glading explained the darkness behind the show’s humor. Some moments are funny at a glance, but its serious in undertones to give the show a certain flare Glading strived for.

“I edited the three-and-a-half-hour show to a 80 to 90 minute script to add my own touches but also keep the story intact,” Glading said.

Rehearsals for the play began in late August, and the entire show was cast, rehearsed and performed in five weeks. Glading attributed the play’s success to the cohesiveness of the group.

“As a 15-member cast, the students were responsible for being communicative with me and one another,” Glading said. “We had some rehearsals that began in the late afternoon, and some that just began at 9 p.m. Because everyone has a different schedule, it is always a challenge for every show to set a schedule.”

In the early stages of rehearsals, it became evident that there was a discrepancy in the set design. While the production team and Glading had their own vision, the set design team had different thoughts, putting the set in an opposite direction.

“Everyone, the cast, crew, worked together to flip the set around,” Glading said. “We used the carpet as a base and strategically lifted each corner of the set to get it right. It turned out great because there was never a ‘bad’ spot for the audience to enjoy the show. Any angle allowed for the same view as the next.”

Despite some challenges in the play’s production, Glading was grateful for the successful performances.

“The students really are passionate about both academics and the arts, and it never fails to show,” he said.

The show on Saturday evening was sold out, and the audience members there were eager to catch the final performance.

Senior iSTEM and elementary education double major Alanna Jenkins left the Black Box Theater smiling.

“Not only was I laughing, but I felt transformed into the eras of both Shakespeare and the 1930’s, and it was definitely a fun way to spend my Saturday night,” she said.

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