Alec Volz, Crystian Wiltshire, Gregory Maupin & Abigail Maupin-Bailey in rehearsal for Twelfth Night.
Photo courtesy of KY Shakesepeare.
By Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2015 Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Twelfth Night is the eve of the Epiphany, twelve days after Christmas and the date of a festival in some branches of Christianity that marks the night that the three wise men came to visit the nativity. Tradition suggests you keep your tree up until this date. It is also, of course, the name of a play by William Shakespeare from late in his career.
Kentucky Shakespeare makes a rare move inside for a new production of Twelfth Night opening on twelfth night, January 5, in the Bomhard Theater at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. The play runs through January 10.
Artistic Director Matt Wallace directs the production, set in the Elizabethan period, and describes the play as containing, “…no overt magic, such as we would find in A Midsummer Night’s Dream or The Tempest, but magic of another kind. It casts a spell through character.”
Conventional wisdom holds that William Shakespeare didn’t write many good roles for women. The social restrictions of Elizabethan England forbade women from taking the stage, thereby removing one motivation. Perhaps, if a community of talented actresses had surrounded him, he would have developed more female characters. But when he did turn his attention to women, he was quite capable of creating dynamic and complex characters.
Viola in Twelfth Night is considered to be one of the finest of these. Kentucky Shakespeare Artistic Director Matt Wallace counts her as his, “…favorite Shakespeare woman.” He cast Katherine Martin in the role, making her debut with this company after a run of striking performances in local productions with Stage One Family Theatre, Theatre , and Wayward Actors Company. She will find herself in good company, as the play also delivers two other interesting women in Olivia, played by KY Shakes mainstay Abigail Bailey Maupin, and Maria, played by stage veteran and Youth Performing Arts School instructor Georgette Kleier.
Twelfth Night also features one of the more developed set of “clowns” in Shakespeare; so compelling that they risk upstaging the primary story of love and reconnection. Feste is described by Wallace as, “…a world weary character who doesn’t give a sh**, but he is the framing character for the narrative.” Alec Volz, a veteran director and member of the Louisville Improvisors, takes on the role in his first turn onstage in a scripted role in years. Volz directed and taught at Walden Theatre for 15 years and felt the need to challenge himself again with Shakespeare. He should feel at home with fellow Improvisor Brian Hinds as Sir Toby Belch, Crystian Wiltshire as Fabian, and Tony Milder as Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Another signature KY Shakes player, Gregory Maupin will take on the cross-gartered Malvolio, who is one of the most set-upon characters in the Shakespeare canon. Says Wallace: “He is a mysterious character. Its easy to describe him as a victim, and his journey in the play is certainly very dark, but he is also no villain; Malvolio doesn’t come back for revenge.”
Jeremy Sapp (Orsino), Braden McCampbell (Curio), Jon Patrick O’Brien (Valentine), Jon Huffman (Sea Captain\Priest), Kyle Ware (Antonio), and Jordan Price (Sebastian) fill out the remainder of the cast.
Jack Ashworth from the University of Louisville School of Music has arranged music to be played on Elizabethan period instruments by musicians John Aurelius, Anna Blanton, and Michael Vettraino.
Twelfth Night (Or What You Will)
January 5-10, 2016
501 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Tickets available by calling 502-584-7777 or visiting http://www.kentuckycenter.org/all-shows/twelfth-night
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being one of the hosts of PUBLIC on ARTxFM, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.