Shakespeare Comes to Georgia Southern

Rachel Kelso

It’s Shakespeare like you’ve never seen before. The Georgia Southern Theatre Department is performing a new rendition of William Shakespeare’s famous comedy “Twelfth Night.”

“Twelfth Night” tells the story of a crash-landed woman disguised as a man who gets tangled up in a complicated and comedic love triangle. However, there’s a twist.

“Our production of ‘Twelfth Night’ is taking place in the 1920s and kind of has a New Orleans French Quarter flavor to it,” Gage Crook, director and GSU alumni, said.

According to Crook, the change of setting did not greatly affect the show or its content. He did, however, make small adjustments to the production, such as cutting all lines referencing swords due to the more modernized weaponry in the 1920s.

“I [think] that it [is] a fun place to set the story,” William Leach, sophomore theatre major, said. “The thing I love about William Shakespeare’s work is that you can really take it and make it your own and do so much with it.”

Leach will be playing Sir Andrew Agucheek, a rich, cocky and foolish character. “He’s a little fabulous,” Leach said. This is his first Shakespearian role that he’s ever performed. The main and understandable struggle he faced with the script was the language. “It’s a huge challenge to learn a whole different language,” he said.

Crook agreed with Leach, admitting that the language barrier is difficult at first for everyone involved.

“For me, the challenge has been making sure I get exposed to the language enough to where I am comfortable with working with it,” Crook said.

Shakespeare isn’t just challenging for those on stage and working with the script.

“Shakespeare, when you are re-interpreting period, can be challenging,” Dr. Sarah McCarroll,GSU theatre professor, said.

She is designing the costumes for “Twelfth Night” and explained how she researched other film and theatre takes on the 1920s era to help inspire her designs.

“I spent some time looking at contemporary re-imaginings of the time period,” she said. “For menswear, I looked at a lot from the Robert Redford version [of ‘The Great Gatsby’.]”

With Shakespearian style including Elizabethan and complicated pieces, the setting change actually made for a simpler design process with more room for interpretation and creative changes.

While one may get wrapped up in the endless design possibilities, a designer has one true goal. “The most important thing to think about [when designing costumes] is how you’re telling the story of a character with their clothing,” McCarroll said. Comedies and tragedies, as she explained, are designed completely different than one another.

The director, designer and cast must all have a common understanding of any revisions to a production in order to give every element of the show a cohesive theme.

Crook explained how much he enjoys collaborating with actors and designers to create the best show possible. “Just looking at the cultural excesses and things in the 1920s, I think it lends itself really well to ‘Twelfth Night,’” he said. “We’re right where we need to be.”

“Twelfth Night” will be opening Thursday, March 3 at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. Student tickets are $6 and all others are $12.

Dates: March 3-5

Location: Performing Arts Center

Prices: $6 for students, $12 for others