BWW Interviews: Fringe Spotlight: A TWELFTH NIGHT that began in a Wedding Chapel
In January 2014, Mine is Yours Theatre Company produced TWELFTH NIGHT, or WHAT YOU WILL, guerilla-style, in a local wedding chapel; a decision producer Hannah Pell says seemed especially appropriate. "More than any other Shakespeare comedy, this one seemed to specifically look at how life and death exist side by side, and the chapel was perfect for that."
Now the company will remount the story of gender confusion, love unrequited, a jock strap, a drunk and a harmonium played by four women and two dudes at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, June 8 - 28. Christopher W. Jones directs the fast-paced 90-minute adaptation by Chris Greenwood as it evolves from a storybook fairytale into a complex, contemporary pursuit of love and revenge, exploring the tempestuous fury of affection not returned.
Mine is Yours is the creation of Hayley Brown, Hannah Pell and Mary Ellen Schneider, who worked together during one wild summer of Shakespeare and Shaw at Theatricum Botanicum. Realizing the vast difference in the number of male and female roles they decided to do something about it.
Schneider says, "There are over 1,200 characters in Shakespeare's 38 plays. Excluding the servants and messengers and other gender-ambiguous parts, there are over 1,000 male roles and fewer than 150 female roles...and even fewer meaty, once-in-a-lifetime female characters. That doesn't accurately reflect the world at all so we decided to create more opportunities for women and (however negligibly) bring the overall gender breakdown of consistently working classical theatre artists in LA closer together. Thus, Mine is Yours was born!"
Pell adds that they decided to remount this particular production at the Fringe because they weren't ready to lay it to rest. "We had such a blast pulling the show together every night in the wedding chapel. And although we received amazing praise, we felt that we'd only scratched the surface of the intricate relationships, both between the characters and between the character doubling."
Each of the actors plays multiple roles: Hayley Brown as Viola/Cesario, Nate Grams as Sebastian/ Sir Toby, Chris Greenwood as Orsino/Malvolio, Katelyn Myer as Antonio/Maria, Hannah Pell as Feste/Captain/Valentine/Fabian/ Priest/Officer, and Mary Ellen Schneider as Olivia/Sir Andrew.
Their quick changes and impossible entrances will take mistaken identity to a whole new level according to Brown. "At one point Sir Toby and Sebastian (both played by Grams) engage in an epic bout of hand-to-hand combat, as Sir Andrew bursts in on Olivia (both played by Schneider) professing her love to Cesario, while Orsino chases after a furious Malvolio (both played by Greenwood) in a dizzying and dazzling comic display!"
"The double casting didn't only give us extra opportunities for hilarity," adds Pell. "The relationships in TWELFTH NIGHT are some of Shakespeare's richest and most complex, and doubling the roles allows us to explore deeper facets of those relationships."
Why should Fringe folks check out the show? "The fiery quick changes and impossible entrances, and the extraordinary live, original music!" exclaims Brown. "So many of the scene changes are spectacular feats of theatre. We all remember how audibly involved the audience was in our first run, and we're excited to see how Fringe audiences respond."
The music she is referring to is that of composer Liz Eldridge who has created an original score using Shakespeare's lines of verse and a variety of musical instruments like the ukulele, omnichord, harmonium, and kazoo.
Sounds like audiences are in for a treat.
June 8 (preview), 13, 20, 22, 27, 28, 2014
The Actor's Company, The Other Space
916 A North Formosa Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90046
Parking available in lot and on street
Tickets: $10 (discounts available for Fringe participants)
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