Encore Michigan

Gender-bending cross-dressing Shakespeare at Hilberry in March

Preview February 16, 2017 Encore Staff

DETROIT – Theatre and Dance at Wayne continues its 2016-17 season at the Hilberry Theatre with a dose of Shakespeare in Twelfth Night.

Guest director J.R. Sullivan will take the helm of this production. Sullivan has worked with the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Pearl Theatre Company in New York City, and with many additional theaters across the United States.

When twins Sebastian and Viola are separated during a shipwreck off the coast of Illyria, Viola disguises herself as a man and enters the service of Orsino, the Duke of Illyria. Viola goes to see Olivia, a noblewoman who has sworn to see no man for seven years while she is in mourning, with messages of love from Orsino. Olivia falls in love with the man she thinks Viola is, though Viola is smitten with Orsino. Challenges mount towards a resolution in one of Shakespeare’s most admired comedies.

Viola’s disguise is the main source of the play’s misunderstandings, and it also affords her protection and freedom while she is in a strange land. Combining her feminine experiences with her masculine liberty, Viola reveals herself to be loyal, clever, and passionate. Twelfth Night celebrates the spaces between masculinity and femininity, sorrow and joy, hate and love. As a play that features one of Shakespeare’s cross-dressing heroines, and was originally performed by all-male casts at the time it was written, Twelfth Night naturally explores gender dynamics and questions of what makes a man or a woman.

The cross-dressing plot takes a cue from the tradition of Twelfth Night festivities, which occurred at the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas and were marked by reversals of class and gender roles. The title reflects the play’s complications, including a woman dressed as a man, twins getting confused for each other, accidental same-sex attraction, and the need for resolution in spite of the chaos. As with traditional comedy, the eventual restoration of order allows for love to blossom as siblings are reunited and lovers paired off together.

The production opens on Friday, March 3, at 8:00 p.m. and  performances continue on select dates throughout March. Ticket prices range from $10 to $30 per person and may be purchased online at theatreanddanceatwayne.com, by phone at 313-577-2972, or in person at 4743 Cass Avenue, inside the Hilberry Theatre.

Week of 4/23/2018

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