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Steampunk meets Shakespeare for ‘Twelfth Night’

April 11, 2014

Tony Shek / The Courier - Sans costumes, freshman Johnny Williams and senior Mike Bennett rehearse a scene.

While there have been many modern adaptations of Shakespeare, the theater department is putting on a unique interpretation of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night (or What You Will).” Directed by Emily Rollie of the theater department, “Twelfth Night” has been adapted in the style of steampunk. It will take place April 24-27 in the Wells Theater.

Steampunk is a futuristic style that centers on the concept of steam-powered inventions. It is not uncommon to see things like gears, mechanical marvels, and other technological interests when looking at steampunk. It is also a blend of the future and the past. Oftentimes you will see futuristic inventions while people wear corsets and top hats.

“I think steampunk as an aesthetic speaks to the themes in ‘Twelfth Night’,” said Rollie. “Steampunk spins out of control, just like the characters and events in ‘Twelfth Night,’ and they just keep going. It makes a lot of thematic sense.”

Ellen Johnson, a freshman who plays the lead, Viola, echoes this sentiment. “It’s a really cool, interesting concept. It gives an edgy twist to the story, and it’s pretty awesome to be part of such a rich interpretation of Shakespeare.”

“Twelfth Night,” a gender-bending comedy, follows Viola who pretends to be a man. Love triangles and difficulties abound as characters start to fall in love with each other, with Viola’s secret throwing a wrench in the story. According to Rollie, the steampunk aspect really adds to overall atmosphere of the story. “It’s going to visually impact what you see,” she said. “The set is awesome, as are the costumes.”

Unlike other Shakespeare plays, this adaptation will be under two hours. “It’s been cut and rearranged to streamline it a little more,” Rollie said. “That way, modern audiences don’t get lost. While the language is still beautiful, the audience shouldn’t get lost in those phrases.”

She also added, “The students are working very hard and are really excited about it. There’s been a lot of energy in this production.”

Aimee Miller
Contributing Writer

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