A Shakespearean comedy featuring a shipwreck, a love triangle and a secret identity is coming soon to Kalamazoo College. The Festival Playhouse will present Twelfth Night, known as one of Shakespeare’s liveliest comedies and a complex look at love and gender identity, as its spring production.
In the play, Duke Orsino of Illyria falls in love with Olivia, who rejects him. Viola shipwrecks on Orsino’s shores. With the help of a captain, Viola disguises herself as a man, calling herself Cesario to enter Orsino’s service. Orsino sends Cesario to woo Olivia for him not realizing Cesario is really Viola, who begins to fall in love with Orsino. As Cesario charms Olivia, Olivia falls in love with Cesario, again rejecting Orsino.
Everybody got that? Welcome to the final installation in this season’s Playhouse theme, Assumption and Confusion.
“With Shakespeare, you know (the comedy) is going to be funny,” said Rebecca Chan ’22, who is serving as the play’s dramaturg. “You just never know how much until you act it out. Both (Director Karen Berthel) and the actors have been good at finding those moments. People love Shakespeare, but this play is one of Shakespeare’s more accessible works.”
In her role as a dramaturg for Twelfth Night, Chan is responsible for working with the director on background research and how current events and perspectives might inform or shape the production. Chan will oversee a lobby display, which will promote the idea that queerness isn’t a modern phenomenon, emphasizing the character Viola, who poses as Cesario. Chan said she hopes the display will be educational and help debunk some misconceptions about gender and queerness, while contextualizing those themes for the audience.
“In classic literature, many characters were gender queer or presented differently from how you would expect,” Chan said. “The myth is that queerness is a modern concept. It’s really as old as time.”
The play will run from Thursday, May 16-Sunday, May 19. Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows begin at 7:30 p.m. The Sunday show will start at 2 p.m. All shows are at the Nelda K. Balch Playhouse Theatre, 139 Thompson St.
Tickets are available through the Playhouse’s online box office. They cost $15 for adults, $10 for seniors 65 and older, and $5 for students. Tickets for Kalamazoo College students, faculty and staff are free when they present K-IDs at the door.
For more information on the play, visit the Playhouse’s website.