Twelfth Night, or What You Will
A daring vision of Viola's journey through Illyria, suffused and flooded with images from the deep. The play begins with a shipwreck. So do we.
Taffety Punk Theatre Company presents Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Adapted and directed by Michelle Shupe
Featuring company members Tonya Beckman, Daniel Crane, Daniel Flint, Kimberly Gilbert, and Esther Williamson
Where: Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 7th Street SE, Washington, DC 20003
When: Opening Night: Friday, February 1 at 7:30 PM; runs Wednesdays through Saturdays until February 23 at 7:30 PM; Saturday matinees at 2:00 PM
Price: All tickets $10 at http://tix.taffetypunk.com/ or 1-800-838-3006
Twelfth Night begins with a shipwreckand from there, Taffety Punk takes a daring leap into the waves to explore Viola's journey through Illyria. Director Michelle Shupe's adaptation immerses the play in a watery grave through which Viola fights for breath and fights to survive. "The play takes place in the time it takes Viola to drownor not drown, as the case may be," says Shupe, a veteran Riot Grrrl whose Shakespeare credits with Taffety Punk include Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet and the Duke in Measure for Measure. "It's an Alice in Wonderland of sorts. When we go down the rabbit hole with Viola into the depths of her subconscious mind, we find that everyone in this world is drowning in something."
Twelfth Night tells the story of Viola, who washes up in Illyia following a shipwreck and disguises herself as a manCesarioto enter the service of Duke Orsino, with whom she falls in love. Duke Orsino, believing himself to be in love with Olivia, sends Cesario to woo the lady on his behalf, but she falls for Cesario instead. The love triangle is further complicated when Viola's twin Sebastian arrives in Illyria and is mistaken for Cesario.
Company member Tonya Beckman, who portrays Olivia, says, "There is something so melancholy and chilly about Twelfth Night, as funny as it is. The play as the vision of a dying girl takes that melancholy coldness and turns it from a stumbling block into a starting place. I think [Michelle's] concept is fascinating."
Shupe warns any Shakespeare purists that it's not the standard telling of the play. "But when do the Punks do anything 'expected'? It will involve dance, song, improv, great language, and all the strengths and ideas that the actors can possibly bring to it."
Taffety Punk has a history of presenting Shakespeare's work in unexpected ways from the all-female Riot Grrrls productions such as Julius Caesar and Much Ado About Nothing to the annual one-night Bootleg Shakespeare, which throws actors in front of an audience after having one day to stage and rehearse such works as Troilus and Cressida, Two Noble Kinsmen, and King John.
The company recently brought Shakespeare's narrative poem The Rape of Lucrece to the stage, complete with a punk rock band and choreography. The Express said, "The adventurous thespians of Taffety Punk take a city with a bunch of staid Shakespeare companies that think 'adventurous' means setting Merry Wives in the 1950s and just push it all into traffic."
On "pushing" Twelfth Night overboard and into the sea, Shupe says, "It's a risk to tell the play through this filter, but the hope is that it will illuminate the text in a whole new way."
Twelfth Night plays at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. The production opens on Friday, February 1 and runs through February 23 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Shows are at 7:30 PM, with 2:00 PM Saturday matinees.
Taffety Punk Theatre Company is the resident company at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (545 7th Street SE, Washington, DC 20003 two blocks from Metro's Orange/Blue Line stop at Eastern Market.
Taffety Punk Theatre Company won the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company at the 2008 Helen Hayes Awards. The company was also a 2010 finalist for the D.C. Mayor's Arts Award for Innovation in the Arts. Taffety Punk's mission is to establish a dynamic ensemble of actors, dancers and musicians who ignite a public passion for theatre by making the classical and the contemporary exciting, meaningful, and affordable.
Taffety Punk Theatre Co at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop
545 7th Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
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