About “Twelfth Night”
Shakespeare’s wonderfully poetic comedy Twelfth Night, also known as What You Will centres on mistaken identity and on how men and women are transformed by love, or promise of love.
Illyria, the setting of Twelfth Night, is important to the play’s romantic atmosphere. Illyria was an ancient region encompassing the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea which is the coasts of modern day Croatia. It included the city state of the Republic of Ragusa which has been proposed as the setting of the play.
In Illyria, Duke Orsino is sick with love with Lady Olivia, who is in mourning for her recently deceased father and brother. To honour their memory, she has sworn to live like a nun for seven years and refuses to receive any messages from Orsino. On the coast of Illyria, Viola and a ship’s captain are washed ashore following a shipwreck in which Viola believes her twin brother, Sebastian, has died. For protection, she disguises herself as a young man (called Cesario) and gains employment in Orsino’s household, where (s)he quickly becomes a favourite…
Twelfth Night was a time of revelry, in which the norms of society were inverted. Set in the early 20th century, the play will have a magical backdrop in Lovrijenac Fort, one of the most famous open air venues in this part of Europe.
A Word from the Director
Twelfth Night is a comedy of mistaken identity, social position and most of all, love. Love in all its variety! Viola, Olivia, Orsino, everyone is helplessly, passionately, madly in love – probably with the wrong person. Love makes fools of them, as it makes fools of us all. In the audience we can relate only too well to the hilarity and tragedy of unrequited love. And there lies the melancholy undertone enriching the humour of this play. Add in a case of mistaken identity, a girl disguised as a boy and you have the perfect Shakespearean comedy.
The stunning setting of Fort Lovrjenac is the perfect location for this lyrical play, even more so because Shakespeare set Twelfth Night in Illyria, on the modern day Dalmatian coat. I’m taking La Belle Epoque as the inspiration for our setting, the free bohemian lifestyle before the onset of war reflects the sense of Twelfth Night as the last day of Christmas festivities. The last day that the rules of the carnival, its madness and disguises can subvert the usual order. This sense that time is running out, explored in the songs of cynical clown Feste, gives a greater intensity to the characters need for love. But as the sun sets, confusions are resolved and our heroes and heroines are united in true love. We are left with a sense that all is finally in its right place, the couples will live happily ever after, we hope…