Production of Twelfth Night challenges actors

Production+of+Twelfth+Night+challenges+actors

The State University Theatre brought together the 1920s and Shakespeare for audiences in their production of “Twelfth Night.”

“Twelfth Night” took place at Donor Theatre from April 22 to 26. The premise of the show focuses on a woman, Viola, who disguises herself as a servant boy. She falls in love with the man she serves, Count Orsino, and the woman that the Count is in love with, Olivia, falls in love with Viola, who is dressed as a man. 

According to J. D. Ackman, the director of theatre and director of “Twelfth Night,” this play was chosen because the theatre program does a classic in spring semesters of odd-numbered years and even-numbered years they do children’s productions.

“[The theatre department] feels like we have an obligation to our students, whether they’re actors or designers or whatever, to allow them the opportunity to work on a piece of classical drama and for the larger community on campus,” Ackman said. “We try to blend contemporary stuff with traditional stuff with new stuff.”

In addition to choosing a classic for learning opportunities, the language in “Twelfth Night” was easier for most people to understand in comparison to other plays by Shakespeare.

Ackman said the play was set in the 1920s so that it would still feel foreign to the audience and it would convey same silliness the original production contained.

“The woman who is going to mourn her brother’s death and not see men and the Count who all he cares about is wooing this woman who doesn’t care for him at all and sort of the silliness and foolishness of love and what it does to people,” Ackman said.

To prepare for the production the cast got together and had practices where they practiced reading the lines, looked up different words and interpreted the various implied meanings of the words.

“There’s a real challenge in an actor, particularly young actors, college-aged people, learning to speak verse so it sounds like dialogue yet doesn’t quite lose the elevation of verse,” Ackman said.

An actress in the play was Allie Kantack, a freshman English major, who played Olivia in the production; this character’s brother dies and she vows to be without men, but then she falls in love with a woman disguised as a man.

“It took a lot of work to create my character just how I wanted her to be. I really had to step outside my comfort zone,” Kantack said. “There are so many different emotions.”

Kantack was also in the fall production of “Spamalot.”

“The really cool part is that [“Twelfth Night”] was that it was set in the 1920s, which is the best decade you can live in,” Kantack said. “It’s just so classy and everything is jazzy and comical and it really fit well with the dynamic of the play … it was fun to be in all of the costumes and the set looked old timey. [It was] a fresh look on Shakespeare.”

While being a part of the production, Kantack said there was practices Monday through Friday and eventually practices everyday. There was also a weekend where sets and costumes are made. After the production, the cast strikes the set.

“The great thing about theatre is that we take the language and interpret it for you and it’s our job to make sure you understand what we’re saying,” Kantack said. “It’s not [the audience’s] job to memorize the lines, but we just want to show you how alive and entertaining even Shakespeare can be.”