Saturday, July 9, 2016

Twelfth Night: On Tour

Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch Performance
We tour! Yesterday and today we celebrated the wit, wonder and words of William Shakespeare with some wonderful audiences, and look forward to more performances this next week.

On Friday, Great Lakes Theater opened it’s mini-tour of Twelfth Night (As Told By Malvolio) at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch of the Cleveland Public Library. The MLK Branch is on Stokes Blvd., adjacent to University Circle and the Cleveland Clinic, and yet I was curious as to just how many would choose or decide to enjoy Shakespeare at 1:00 PM on a weekday.

The company with the ArtWorks Team
Well. Word got out and while we were surprised and delighted to see many familiar friends and supporters in attendance, it was also delightful to see the library staff not only chose to bring their squad from day-care, which composed half a dozen or so kids in the Kindergarten age-range, but had prepared them all week by talking about stories from Shakespeare!

Also, I had the good fortune of running into Ray McNiece that morning at the art museum, as he was leading teenage members of Young Audiences’ ArtWorks art-based job training program, and suggest they join us, and they did - some dozen or so students, several of whom were already familiar with members of our cast from GLT’s School Residency Program.

Our set.
We also had at least one audience member who walked over from their office at the Cleveland Clinic on their lunch break.

I had great fun editing Twelfth Night, shaving the work down to the central love triangle of Orsino, Olivia and Viola, and also working to incorporate the Malvolio storyline without adding additional characters. I pulled speeches from the First Folio to further illuminate the (personal) emotions of Olivia and Malvolio and also to give them more stage time -- my first cutting was merely thirty minutes long and most of it was Orsino and Viola.

Today we followed up with an afternoon performance at the Shaker Heights Public Library, and even though it was a gorgeous summer day, we still had a large turnout of folks who came indoors for a little bit to enjoy our program.

Unlike the MLK Branch performance, which was in their second floor gallery space, or even the reading last month in Brett Hall (where we will return for regular performances at the end of this week) the gig at the Shaker Heights Library best represents my original concept for this production of Twelfth Night.

Don't You (Forget About Me)
Once it was decided that the tour would be Twelfth Night, and that it would be presented in libraries, I began thinking of it as a romantic comedy which takes place in a library. The library itself would be the set. And what is the best-known story which takes place almost exclusively in a library? Well, that would be The Breakfast Club.

I mean, really. What other story takes place entirely in a library?

So I conceived of a version of this play which was modeled after a 1980s John Hughes movie ... though it's really more like Just One of The Guys, which was itself inspired by Twelfth Night. And today's performance, with a backdrop of actual books and bookshelves, was just what I'd imagined.

Twelfth Night (As Told By Malvolio) will next be performed at the Tremont Farmer's Market on Tuesday, July 12 at 6:15 PM.

Complete calendar of  events presented by Great Lakes Theater in partnership with Cleveland Public Library for First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare.

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