Shakespeare's Staging
Twelfth Night
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Friday, 22 April 2005 06:18

Twelfth Night: Peter Hall Company, 1991. Olivia: Sara Crowe; Viola: Maria Miles; Director: Peter Hall; Designer: Timothy O'Brien; Photograher: Donald Cooper. Courtesy AHDS.

STAGING TWELFTH NIGHT

Many critics, such as Stephen Booth, consider Twelfth Night Shakespeare's outstanding comic achievement, and it is usually very successful in performance. Recently critics have treated Malvolio's humiliation as close to tragic, and Orsino's affection for the "boy" Cesario/Viola as raising serious doubts about his heterosexuality, both views reflected in modern performances. Olivia has also been treated more critically, as obsessive (5.4.8). These issues make the play much darker, to the point that Sir Toby Belch may seem a sinister drunkard (6.2.30). The result is a play nearer in ominous temper to Measure for Measure (6.2.31). Feste's rueful songs thus become truly choric. It is not certain whether this reading is true to the original audience expectation figured in the alternative title, What You Will, or merely reflects the impact of modern critical morbidity. HMR

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Berry, Ralph. "The Season of Twelfth Night." In Changing Styles in Shakespeare, 109-19. London: Alan and Unwin, 1981.

Billington, Michael, ed. Approaches to "Twelfth Night," by Bill Alexander, John Barton, John Caird and Terry Hands. RSC Directors' Shakespeare. London: Nick Hern Books, 1990.

Booth, Stephen. Precious Nonsense: "The Gettysburg Address," Ben Jonson's "Epitaphs on His Children," and "Twelfth Night." Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Booth, Stephen. "Twelfth Night and Othello: Those Extraordinary Twins." In  Shakespeare Set Free: Teaching "Twelfth Night" and "Othello," edited by Peggy O'Brien, 22-32. New York: Washington Square Press, 1995.

Brown, John Russell, ed. Twelfth Night. New York; London: Applause, 2001.

Coursen, H. R. "Disguise in Trevor Nunn's Twelfth Night." In Shakespeare in Performance: A Collection of Essays, edited by Frank Occhiogrosso, 84-92. Newark: University of Delaware Press; London: Associated University Presses, 2003.

Gable, Frederick K. "Two Songs in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night: Suggestions for Practical Performance." American Recorder 19 (1978): 52-56.

Grief, Karen. "A Star is Born: Feste on the Modern Stage." Shakespeare Quarterly 39 (1988): 61-78.

Nunn, Trevor. William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night": A Screenplay. London: Methuen, 1996.

Osborne, Laurie E. The Trick of Singularity: "Twelfth Night" and the Performance Editions. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1996.

Osborne, Laurie E. "The Videotexts of Twelfth Night." Shakespeare on Film Newsletter 16, no. 2 (1992): 5-6.

Pennington, Michael. Twelfth Night: A User's Guide. New York: Limelight Editions, 2004.

Potter, Lois. "Twelfth Night": Text and Performance. London: Macmillan, 1985

Richmond, Hugh M. "A Twelfth Night to Remember." Review of Twelfth Night, directed by Gregory Doran, Royal Shakespeare Company, Duke of York's Theatre, London. Internet Shakespeare Editions Performance Chronicle, February 12, 2010.

Schafer, Elizabeth, ed. Twelfth Night. Shakespeare in Production. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Shurgot, Michael W. "Seeing and Believing: Eavesdropping and Stage Groupings in Twelfth Night and Troilus and Cressida." In Shakespeare: Text, Subtext, and Context, edited by Ronald Dotterer, 42-55. Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press, 1989.

Twelfth Night at Talkin' Broadway.

Wells, Stanley. "John Barton's Twelfth Night, 1969-72." In Royal Shakespeare, 46-63. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1977.

Wikander, Matthew H. "Secret as Maidenhead: The Boy-Actress in Twelfth Night." Comparative Drama 20 (1986): 349-63.

Twelfth Night: William Farren (1786-1861) as Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

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