Some people are born directors. Some achieve directing. And some have directing thrust upon them.
Dale Daigle, Associate Professor of the Drama department, belongs to the first category.
Those who were here last year might remember when he directed an ensemble of rookie and veteran actors in the hilarious production, Duchamp Sat Here, in which the audience was promised thirty plays in sixty minutes or their money back.
Those who have been here even longer may recall when he directed a moving production of The Laramie Project, the play written in memory of hate-crime victim Mathew Sheppard.
Now, in Spring 2004, with a new breed of ambitious young drama recruits eager to break into the acting scene, and a handful of old-timers looking for a fun show to sharpen their teeth on, whats a versatile, culturally aware director to do?
Hmmm...how about a Shakespeare play?
For those of you who managed to avoid taking History of English Lit., Twelfth Night (or What You Will) is one of Shakespeares most widely performed comedies.
Its a light-hearted tale of infatuation, mistaken identity, and cross-dressing, told in a spirited, playful fashion which harkens back to the festivities held on the Feast of the Epiphany (the Twelfth Night of Christmas.)
The plot revolves around the misadventures of a young woman named Viola, who disguises herself as a man in an attempt to get close to the object of her affection, the Duke Orsino.
However, the Duke already has his sights set on the beautiful lady Olivia, who is too busy mourning the death of her brother to concern herself with romance. When Olivia begins to fall for the handsome young man Viola is impersonating, the bizarre love triangle is complete.
Plus, there is much more trouble to be had concerning Olivias mischievous uncle Sir Toby, Olivias prudish steward Malvolio, and the surprise appearance of Violas lost twin brother.
So, when putting on a show thats been produced numerous times, how does one make it unique, yet true to its original spirit, while at the same time accessible to even those who cringe at the mention of Shakespeare?
The answer is simple: audience participation, rap music, and drag queens.
I met with Daigle a few days ago to discuss the show. He said that with this version of Twelfth Night, he hopes to portray the story in a manner to which contemporary audiences can relate by incorporating various elements of pop culture. The play itself is a very musical one, so throwing in a little rap music was not very difficult to do.
Keeping in tune with the playful nature of the script, the set will be a giant playground, complete with swings and a big sliding board.
He hopes these and various other creative touches will make the play more accessible to the audience, while still exploring its original themes, such as desire and gender roles.
Unfortunately, the batteries in my digital recorder died 43 seconds into our conversation, so I dont have any quotes from Daigle. Sorry.
Daigles large cast is made up of a fine mix of newcomers and veterans, all who have been having a blast preparing the show since the beginning of winter break.
Graduating senior Kevin Brotzman, who directed last semesters Blue Surge, had worked with Daigle in the past and was eager to do so one last time.
The thing that really drew me in was Dales vision, cause I wasnt really familiar with Twelfth Night before, but Ive done a couple shows with him before and had a great time, and hes got a lot of great ideas for this show Brotzman remarked.
Type-cast actor Mike Barron will once again be playing a sexual deviant.
I had to masturbate on stage in Under Milkwood. I shot my gay lover in a public bathroom in Porcelain. I tried to give myself a blowjob in Duchamp Sat Here. Now Im playing a drag queen said Barron.
He is referring to his role as a member of Mikey and the Mikettes, a trio of Olivias Ladies in Waiting, whose sole purpose is to follow her around. The other two ladies will be played by Mike Ridgeway and Mikey Meagher.
When asked what would make this play appealing to those who normally dont attend theatre productions, freshman Molly Weeks stated, A huge part of the show is the audiences reaction and participation.
Audience participation is a very old tradition, going back to when Shakespeares plays were first performed at the Globe Theater, where audience members would shout at the characters on stage.
Stage director Michelle Disney expects the play to go over very well with theatre-goers, regardless of whether or not they would normally enjoy a Shakespeare play.
This will be unlike any production of a Shakesperean play you've ever seen before. An explosion of color, sound, and excitement . . . an incredible mixture of acting, singing, rapping, and comedy set on a giant playground . . . a mix of the contemporary and the traditional . . . fun for the whole family Disney stated.
Now, if that doesnt sound like a liberal arts students wild night, I dont know what does.
Washington Colleges rendition of Twelfth Night will run for four days, over the last weekend of February.
If youre a Shakespeare fan, a non-Shakespeare fan, or you just want to try doing something cultural on a Friday night, come check it out. Ill be there.