Twelfth Night

 

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Viola is in love with Orsino.  Orsino is in love with Olivia.  Olivia is in love with Viola. Malvolio is in love with Olivia.  Antonio is in love with Sebastian. Sebastian is in love with Olivia.  Maria is in love with Sir Toby.  Sir Toby is in love with beer. (Here is where you say, “Love sucks!”)

But to complicate the situation — Viola (for personal reasons) has been dressing like a boy.  Sebastian is Viola’s twin brother.  Olivia (in love with Viola) takes one look at Sebastian and — well, you should watch the movie!

Twelfth Night is a farcical comedy, written by William Shakespeare in around 1601. It is a perfect play for the celebrations of Twelfth Night (January 6th) which mark the end of the Christmas season. Role reversals, mummers and merry-making were the Elizabethan order of the day. The Lord of Misrule came to rule. Servants were masters and masters were servants.  The play’s full title was ‘Twelfth Night or What You Will’, seemingly because Twelfth Night is a night to do precisely what you personally will.

I still say The Shakes was way ahead of his time, constantly delving into themes of gender identity, cross-dressing and homoerotic love, centuries before they ever became political or civil rights issues.

If you have never seen Twelfth Night, you are in for a treat! This 1988 version, made for television and produced by Kenneth Branagh is one of my favorites. Running time is about 2.5 hours. Hope you get the chance to watch it, or — do What You Will!

 

 

 

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Twelfth Night (or What You Will)

 

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January 6th is a holiday that marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas. It is also known in the Christian church as Feast of the Three Kings, Feast of the Magi, or Epiphany.  This is the day when it was believed  the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem  to give gifts to the Christ child, thus beginning a tradition of gift giving at Christmas. Seems pretty sacred and special, right?

Well, our medieval counterparts  did not have much reverence about it.   In Medieval and Tudor England, Twelfth Night was a night for the biggest, wildest party EVER!  Everything was reversed on Twelfth Night.  Traditions and formalities went out the window.  Craziness and frivolity were acceptable behavior.  The Lord of Misrule came to rule.

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Servants became masters and masters became servants.  Kings became peasants and peasants became kings.   Everything was put into a chaotic frenzy, accompanied by much drinking, dancing and general goofiness.  Sounds like a good time, eh?  It reminds me of what modern day folk do on New Year’s Eve, which just goes to show, we are never far from our ancestors.

Shakespeare never missed  a good commercial opportunity.

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He knew this time of revelry could and should  be celebrated with plays!   He went to work on an awesome comedy called ‘Twelfth Night’.   Continue reading