DIRECTOR’S NOTES

The course of true love never did run smooth – and the same can be said for theatre. In the most difficult of economic landscapes with a myriad of obstacles, the arts have always found a vital role to fill. This year a dedicated cast and tireless crew held firm to the belief that this show would be something special and the desire to share this story with you, the audience.

There is a sense that we know Illyria. It is reminiscent of some place we’ve been, or perhaps have forgotten. It rings of a different time, when pangs were more dearly felt, when love was more encompassing, and laughter more contagious. The action is felt through a nostalgic gauze.

We are greeted with a land in mourning. The death of two dear ones, a father and son, has spiralled the land into a sense of depression. The mode played out is one of performers aware of their theatricality, of taking on a role when needed, but where the emotional division between self and character has become intertwined. Visually we are presented with a sense of ‘that which was’ has been stripped bare. Echoes of transient soup lines and economic recession are felt. We are given characters that are destitute, if not materially or financially, then emotionally. They too, long to flee to a nostalgic past, a happier time.

Into this environment is thrust a young girl, barely a woman. A stranger to this land, who has likewise been robbed of all that she had held dear. With no family, fortunes or future, Viola astounds us with such a simple act of grace. Seeing the hurt in others, ignoring her own pitiful circumstance, she chooses to serve them. Out of her own pain, she hopes to bring relief to others. And so we, the audience and the players, begin what is a long and intricate climb.

The Twelfth Night holiday, for which this play was written, took place at the end of the familiar 12 days of Christmas, and was observed as Epiphany Eve. Epiphany celebrates the adoration of the Magi and marked the end of the winter festivities and the beginning of the season leading up to spring and Carnival – figuratively and literally a journey from darkness into light. The journey of the play mirrors this trajectory: from a world of mourning, to a world of celebration; from a world of silence, to music; from a world stuck in the past, to living for the future.

And because the rain, it raineth every day, we know we are left with an imperfect world. Life will not be bliss. That the story ends well for some is a relief, but it certainly is not without its consequences. There will be marriage for some, and loneliness for others. What we and the players take away from this story must be much more layered, more personal, more of our own making. But we will always have the shores of Illyria to revisit when we need to and fondly reminisce of disguises, duels, loves and yellow stockings.

Or, What You Will.

Thank you for coming tonight and supporting DreamNorth. I hope you enjoy the show and have a wonderful evening.

-Brad Lepp

NOTES ON THE MUSIC

Nearly all of the songs in Shakespeare’s plays were popular tunes of the day which would have been easily recognised by both the actors in his company and the audience at the theatre. There was no need for Shakespeare to write down such well-known melodies, so what we find ourselves with is lyrics without music. These songs are often dismissed as superfluous and thus omitted in modern productions. But I think we must assume that a dramatist as accomplished as Shakespeare did not interpolate songs lightly or without purpose into his text, particularly in a play so abundantly musical as Twelfth Night, whose opening lines refer to music and its power to both inflame and subdue emotional appetites.

Music in Twelfth Night is a part of the dramatist action: Feste makes his living at least party by his musical abilities, and characters as diverse as Sir Toby and Orsino both call for music from the Fool to soothe and indulge them in their reflective moods. Viola knows that her talent with music can help her gain a place in Orsino’s court. Malvolio shows antipathy towards any music or celebration. Feste uses his music, like his wit, both to mock and to reveal, and musical moments in the play can often reveal subtle elements of character that would otherwise remain unknown to us. After all, you can tell a lot about a person by the songs he chooses to put on his Ipod.

I chose to draw on North American folk music for Feste, who would undoubtedly have travelled much to make his living. Orsino’s music is dark and brooding, while Sir Toby and Andrew prefer their tunes, even the sad ones, to have some rhythm to them.

The play begins with a shipwreck and a loss at sea, and Brad and I agreed to adapt part of Sonnet 64, with its themes of loss and instability as a lyric to open the play. “Wind and Rain” is a storm in the beginning, and a reminder of a larger plan at work in the end.

-Adrian Marchuk