UW Theatre and Dance Season Ends with Shakespeare Comedy

April 11, 2013
Three people acting in play
UW students (from left) Brooke Benson, Amber McNew and Sean Higgins rehearse a scene from Shakespeare’s popular comedy “Twelfth Night.” The play runs April 23-27 at 7:30 p.m. and April 28 at 2 p.m. on the Fine Arts Main Stage.

Misrule rules the day in the topsy-turvy world of “Twelfth Night, Or What You Will,” which closes the University of Wyoming Department of Theatre and Dance 2012-2013 production season. Performances are scheduled April 23-27 at 7:30 p.m. and April 28 at 2 p.m. on the Fine Arts main stage.

Tickets -- $14 for the public, $11 for senior citizens and $7 for student -- are available at the Wyoming Union and Fine Arts box offices. For tickets and information, call (307) 766-6666 or go online at www.uwyo.edu/finearts.

Directed by John O’Hagan, the play is considered by many to be the funniest of Shakespeare’s comedies. “Twelfth Night” has delighted audiences for more than 400 years with its raucous antics, ravishing language and rich characters. 

First performed in 1602 as part of the annual Twelfth Night celebration, the play expanded the musical interludes and riotous disorder expected on that occasion into a much beloved comedy.

“’Twelfth Night’ is a really romantic, light play and it should be fun,” O’Hagan says. “For this production, we’ve put it in a world that I think is tremendously fun.”

O’Hagan says he wanted to bring the play forward in such a way that it would resonate with modern audiences. Wanting to find a period that embraced some of the play’s strong theatrical devices -- romance, music and a certain element of androgyny -- O’Hagan decided to set the piece in the 1980s.

“The direct inspiration for this production came when I was reading the play and happened to be listening to my headphones and Simple Minds’ ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ came on,” he says. 

The musical cue led O’Hagan to the realization that the play is very similar in structure and dynamics to a John Hughes film, which takes basic social structures and deconstructs them throughout the action of the story, but restores them by the end. 

“Part of my job as a director is finding a way to use this play to speak to my audience, which is not the same audience who watched this piece 400 years ago,” O’Hagan says. “The universal themes are there, and it’s my job to package them in such a way that the play resonates with my audience.”

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