‘Twelfth Night’ colors the stage

Bradley’s Theater Department will present Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” from April 20 to 30.
photo by Cenn Hall

The Bradley Theater Department will perform its rendition of Shakespeare’s comedy “Twelfth Night” April 20 through 30 in the Hartmann Center.

Shakespeare wrote “Twelfth Night” in the early 1600s, but today’s generation mostly recognizes the 2006 movie “She’s the Man.” Its plot involves romance, melancholy, a love triangle and deception.

According to stage manager Emily Goldman, Bradley’s production will be set in an early 20th century place suggestive of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, which will add to the tone of vibrancy and comedy.

“We have got classic Mardi Gras colors [on set] with purple and green and gold … [and] we have two levels to the set, which is cool,” Goldman, a senior theater production major, said. “It is the first time that we have done, since I’ve been at Bradley, multiple levels … We’ve got cool music too, and everything coming together is just a true Shakespeare [experience].”

The comedic elements of the play are enhanced by the larger-than-life plot, according to play director and Theater Department Chair Scott Kanoff.

“We get into the theme of excess,” Kanoff said. “This is a play where everybody loves too much, everybody grieves too much. There is one of the great practical jokes in all of theater that is perpetrated in this play, and it goes a little too far. So, the play deals with people who are behaving in very excessive ways, and so they get themselves into all kinds of pickles. For me, that idea of excess is a lot of fun to explore.”

The play was cast in December, and once the actors returned from winter break, table readings began, during which the actors came together to translate and interpret the complicated prose of Shakespeare.

“It is like learning a foreign language,” Kanoff said. “The thing about Shakespeare is he gives you all the clues through the words, through the verse … there are a lot of skills to learn.”

According to Sarah Heilbronner, who plays the character of Olivia in the play, learning these skills adds more to the rehearsal process.

“With regular contemporary shows, you have your lines, and then you find your intentions behind them,” Heilbronner, a senior theater performance and advertising double major, said. “With Shakespeare, you have your lines, you have to translate those into modern English and paraphrase it for yourself and then figure out as an actor your intentions with that character.”

After completing table readings, the actors and crew attended rehearsals for six days a week and four hours each day.

Kanoff is no stranger to the production of “Twelfth Night” as he performed the play twice during his own acting career. Kanoff said his experience with the play has allowed him to have a deeper understanding of the content. However, he said he is not bringing many ideas from his previous performances, but rather working to the strengths of Bradley’s cast.

“I have a life-long investment in the play emotionally, so, if anything, I bring a lot of passion for the play,” Kanoff said. “It’s not so much wanting to replicate my experiences with it, apart from maybe conveying some of the joy I feel for it … as for how we are approaching it, I am not stealing very much from either of the productions … this is an approach based on the people that we have.”

As a comedy, “Twelfth Night” poses a stark contrast to the department’s previous, darker play during the fall semester, “These Shining Lives.” However, this spectrum allows Bradley theater students to demonstrate their range while also gaining experience in a variety of plays.

“With our productions, we try to serve the needs of our students,” Kanoff said. “So, who is up for this kind of experience, who is up for the that kind of experience? Over a period of four years, we hope that our students will experience a pretty complete range of theatrical literature and theatrical production.”

The cast and crew of the Bradley production included students of all grades. Tickets are $5 for students, who can use QuickCash as payment, and $12 for non-adults. To purchase tickets over the phone, call (309) 677-2650.

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