Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Dr. Robert Vrtis
Center for the Arts: Jewel Theatre
October 6-8, 2016
A contemporary take on this timeless show, Luther’s production features live music and two casts, male and female, playfully exploring gender performance. After washing up on the unfamiliar shores of Illyria, Viola, believing her twin brother Sebastian to be lost at sea, disguises herself as a boy and enters the service of Duke Orsino. The Duke sends her to woo the Lady Olivia on his behalf, and a series of hilarious events follow involving the perplexing members of her court.
In a year marked by the loss of Prince and David Bowie, I wanted to explore what these artists meant for me (and perhaps for some of you too) and filter that through Twelfth Night. Specifically, in the way that they brought to a broader cultural consciousness a different way of performing gender. A younger me was grateful for the revelation that was their performance of masculinity – or rather, the way they managed to perform a masculinity that exposed the performance of gender and the slippages possible between a received masculine/feminine binary.
I cannot claim this production dives deeply into the questions of gender identity so important to our time now. Rather, we aim only to echo Viola’s example in Illyria. In an uncertain time and place, she performs a role that is both unlike herself and a deeper revelation of her self. We want to examine gender in performance – so important to identity, but still distinct. I believe this is important because seeing someone else’s performance is a way of seeing the potential for that possibility in you.