Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Shakespeare at the Rock - Twelfth Night

Shakespeare at the Rock - Burlington’s Tottering Biped Theater.

At The Play
While in Burlington, Ontario last month, I had many wonderful experiences which will be shared over the next few days. One was attending an outdoor presentation of William Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night. The play presented by The Tottering Biped Theater at Burlington's Royal Botanical Gardens, was fascinating. The historic Rock Garden provides the perfect atmosphere for a night of inspiring theater under the stars - a delicious, only slightly cool, summer evening. 

The site Shmoop offered this play description:  

Gender is a biggie in Twelfth Night, and the play brilliantly demonstrates how gender, a socially constructed identity, can be "performed" and impersonated with the use of voice, costume, and mannerisms. The theme is largely explored in relation to Shakespeare's profession as an actor and writer for a transvestite stage (in Elizabethan times, all-male acting companies performed the roles of women). The relationship between gender and performance is particularly complex in Twelfth Night because the part of Viola is played by a boy actor, who is cross-dressed as a female character, who disguises herself as a young man. Of course, the text also meditates on the relationship between gender and desire as it explores the erotics of androgyny.

Viola (Cesario) and Olivia 

The Shakespeare at the Rock rendition of the play took liberties with the original time period and setting while still staying true to the old English dialogue. The play’s time was moved forward to the 1980s, place Miami. The court jester, Feste, is now an over the top drag queen. This is a space where young people - not unlike the ones Shakespeare was writing about - are taking chances, experimenting with self-expression, and show a side of themselves they may not reveal in the light of day. We’ve all been there - or are there- so why not put Shakespeare’s characters there too?

Spoiler alert - "The girl gets the girl. Or was it the boy gets the girl?"


What a fun, interesting and beautiful evening. 

Royal Botanical Gardens, Burlington, ON Canada

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