What... You Will?
A devised play based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
Twelfth Night has been transported to a modern day Scotia (a not very well disguised Scotland) whilst retaining the characters and the themes of the original. The cast worked together to re-write their lines in modern speech, except for the two characters who come from "Shakespeare Land" - Viola and Sebastian - who retain the original dialogue, although it has been shortened somewhat.
Devising a play in this way has proved to be an interesting and exciting experience. The cast has had 'ownership' of the play from the beginning and have developed their characters as they re-wrote their lines. This has meant that the rehearsal period has been more enjoyable for all concerned.
The play is set in the Highlands of Scotia, with the action taking place around Duke's estate and Olivia's estate. Duke, a love-sick rockstar, pines for the reclusive American film star, Olivia. Enter Will, a woman disguised as a man, to create a confusing love triangle. Add a mischievous Hungarian housekeeper, a manipulative drunkard with his gormless, gullible sidekick and a pompous puritanical steward. Toss in a measure of mistaken identity to spice things up and you have all the ingredients for a great romantic comedy.
Twelfth Night was Shakespeare's most musical play. Its opening line, "If music be the food of love, play on." strongly points to this. Throughout the play, Shakespeare used songs to heighten some of the poignant moments, or to emphasise comedy. In our production, it therefore seemed fitting that Duke should be a somewhat faded rockstar, seeking solace in music with his musician friends. His household is characterised by a more melancholic musical style reflecting his lovesickness, while Toby's debauchery lends itself to a more upbeat soundtrack. We have chosen modern music that we hope reflects Shakespeare's original musical choices and captures the character of the play.
What... You Will? was first performed by the Linlithgow Players as an outdoor production in Linlithgow, Scotland in April as part of the RSC Open Stages project. Our delight at being chosen to take part in the RSC Open Stages project has now been surpassed by being given this opportunity to perform our play here in Stratford. We hope you enjoy in as much as we have enjoyed devising, rehearsing and performing it.
Viola/Will (Sebastian's shipwrecked twin): Liz Drewett
Duke (The 'King of Rock'): Gavin MacDonald
Karl (His sidekick): Charles MacKenzie
Tina (His other sidekick): Barbara Innes
Toby (Olivia's uncle): Ian Stewart
Maria (Olivia's housekeeper): Sue Spencer
Andrew (A friend of Toby): Ray Myers
Phoebe (Olivia's friend): Judy Barker
Olivia (A famous actress): Thérèse Gallacher
Malcolm (Olivia's estate manager): Les Fulton
Sebastian (Viola's shipwrecked twin): Mark Eggeling
Tony (Sebastian's rescuer): David Wotherspoon
Fay (Olivia's personal assistant): Sue Vizard
Police: Charles MacKenzie and Barbara Innes
Alanna (A lawyer): Barbara Innes
Directed by Sandra Moar,
assisted by Eleanor Bain
Produced by Liz Drewett
Sound: John Barker
Staging: David Wotherspoon
and Sue Spencer
A memorable performance
My glum mood was soon dissipated when I took the opportunity to watch a performance of What...You Will? presented by the Linlithgow Players. This adaptation of Twelfth Night was at times hilarious and at times deeply moving. I thoroughly enjoyed its easy transition from Shakespearean to modern language and its uplifting and joyful conclusion.
I am told that the play will be staged again on Saturday and Sunday of this week and I would heartily recommend it. It is truly memorable.
And our performance at Stratford-upon-Avon at the invitation of the Royal Shakespeare Company
(photos by Phil Mansell)
(photos by Phil Mansell)