Encore Michigan

Award-winning playwright, director, and actor Gus Kaikkonen returns to Lansing

Preview November 04, 2019 Encore Staff

EAST LANSING—Award-winning playwright, director, and actor Gus Kaikkonen returns to Lansing as a guest director for the Michigan State Department of Theatre production of Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, running November 8 – 17 in Auditorium building’s Arena Theatre.

Prior to its closing in 2010, the BoarsHead Theater was mid-Michigan’s oldest professional resident theatre. In the theater’s 43 years of business, Kaikkonen directed, acted in, or wrote over a dozen BoarsHead shows, including three separate productions of his play Time Steps. His prolific career includes being in the original Broadway cast of Equus and most recently, directing a New York production of Hindle Wakes, which was nominated for Outstanding Revival by both the 2018 Drama Desk Awards and the Off Broadway Alliance. For the past 25 years, Kaikkonen has served as Artistic Director of Peterborough Players in New Hampshire.

Known as one of Shakespeare’s classic comedies, Twelfth Night explores themes of gender confusion. A girl, Viola, disguises herself as male to be near the man she loves, only to be pursued by the woman that he loves. The result is a madcap tale of mistaken identities and misplaced affections.

EAST LANSING—Award-winning playwright, director, and actor Gus Kaikkonen returns to Lansing as a guest director for the Michigan State Department of Theatre production of Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, running November 8 – 17 in Auditorium building’s Arena Theatre. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $13 for seniors and MSU faculty/staff, $10 for MSU students and are available online at whartoncenter.com, at the Wharton Center box office or by calling 1-800-WHARTON.

Prior to its closing in 2010, the BoarsHead Theater was mid-Michigan’s oldest professional resident theatre. In the theater’s 43 years of business, Kaikkonen directed, acted in, or wrote over a dozen BoarsHead shows, including three separate productions of his play Time Steps. His prolific career includes being in the original Broadway cast of Equus and most recently, directing a New York production of Hindle Wakes, which was nominated for Outstanding Revival by both the 2018 Drama Desk Awards and the Off Broadway Alliance. For the past 25 years, Kaikkonen has served as Artistic Director of Peterborough Players in New Hampshire.

Known as one of Shakespeare’s classic comedies, Twelfth Night explores themes of gender confusion. A girl, Viola, disguises herself as male to be near the man she loves, only to be pursued by the woman that he loves. The result is a madcap tale of mistaken identities and misplaced affections.

“Shakespeare wrote really strong female roles in a time and medium that was inherently misogynistic.” says Kaikkonen, “Yet, he wrote with a discipline and awareness that isn’t making fun of anyone. He was adept at holding a mirror up to society. The characters of Olivia and Viola are finding their own way and are not interested in doing what the men in the play want them to do.”

His concept for the production is simple. “We want the audience to understand the story. In directing the show, I’m not trying to find the best Viola, for example. I’m trying to find the actor’s best interpretation of that character. What will make the play unique is the fact that this specific actor is playing that character. I work to see who my cast are as people and try to infuse their behaviors in the characters.”

In addition to his role as a guest director, Kaikkonen is also instructing Michigan State students in a classical acting course. “I’m very impressed by the student talent and hope to instill in them an ear to interpret and articulate the work. The pentameter is their friend. It breaks the text up into little chunks that are easier to understand. It sets up a rhythm and, in that way, it’s like rap music.”

Tickets are $15 for general admission, $13 for seniors and MSU faculty/staff, $10 for MSU students and are available online at whartoncenter.com, at the Wharton Center box office or by calling 1-800-WHARTON.

Week of 11/18/2019

Current Shows

  • All
  • mon
  • tue
  • wed
  • thu
  • fri
  • sat
  • sun