By William ShakespeareDirected by Corey Atkins
Countess Olivia scolds the Fool for disrupting her mourning. Attendant and Malvolio stand behind. By Joshua Williamson
Duke Orsino pleads with Viola to court Olivia on his behalf surrounded by his crew. by Joshua Williamson
Sir Toby Belch enters drunk and dancing. By Joshua Williamson
Professor Mary McClung fixes Sabrina Zillinger's (Viola) wing. By Joshua Williamson
A Conversation with the DIRECTOR
by Hannah Thompson, Dramaturg
First, what is the play about? Essentially, it is about a pair of twins who, after getting lost at sea, both wash up on shore in Illyria, but each thinks the other is dead. The female twin, Viola, decides that her best option is to disguise herself as a man and join the court of the Duke Orsino until she can figure out what to do with her life. From there, there is a lot of mistaken identity, a lot of servants messing with the upper class, and eventually, everybody is reunited and united in love.
Why do you think it is important to tell this story? The reason that we are still doing Shakespeare four-hundred-plus years after his plays were written, 1602 in this case, is that they are universal in themes. One of the things that I really key into about this play is the subtitle—What You Will—and I take that a couple of ways. One is each of these characters finds themselves in surprising, frustrating, frightening, exciting situations, and they have to improvise and decide what they will they make of their situation; and will can also be taken in a sense of strength, your will-power. In those situations, how do you use the power that you have to make things happen? Which is true for everybody from the serving class in this play who decide to get revenge on the prudish steward of their house, to the Duke, and Countess Olivia.
What was your biggest challenge throughout the rehearsal process?The most unusual thing about this process has been the fact that I came into a process that, in terms of pre-production, was already essentially finished. So, costumes had been designed, the set had been designed and was about to start being built. There were some adjustments that we made, [the costume designer] and [the set designer] were both great about making adjustments I felt that I would need in order to tell the story clearly the way my brain works.
So, you’re using a lot of ’80s music in the show. How do you think that the ’80s music changes or adds to the story? There are a couple of ways. I love using contemporary music in theatre because music is such an emotional short-hand and can really help you tell a lot of story or start to hint at story in a brief amount of time. So there were a couple of things that I was thinking about listening for as we were going through and picking songs. One was trying to be sort of on-theme and on-topic with the songs themselves, what are the lyrics saying, what is the title of the song, does that speak to what is happening in the scene. Simultaneous with that, you have to think about what does the song sound like, does it fit the mood of the scene. The lyrics might be great, but if the song is a ballad, and the goal of the music is to get people excited, then a ballad is probably not what you want to look for. So, finding those songs that did both of those things, that told some story through the lyrics and some ideas in the song as well as does it contribute to the energy of the scene.