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Twelfth Night
or What You Will

13 - 29 MAY 1999

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Bob Eaton
With original music by Bob Eaton & Greg Palmer

We invite you to join us on a magical (mystery) tour of Shakespeare's mythical lllyria - a land of love, peace and happenings, where illusion and fantasy collide and appearances are not quite what they seem ...

Bob Eaton has taken Shakespeare's classic tale of love, deception and trickery and transformed it into a psychedelic musical comedy.

The 60s era lends itself perfectly as the setting for this humorous and romantic tale: a period of free expression, of love, intoxication (in all its many forms), and above all - music!

A fantastic cast bring some of Shakespeare's most memorable characters to life including Graham Fellows (aka John Shuttleworth) as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and Belgrade favourites Katy Stephens (last seen as Carraboss in 'Sleeping Beauty') as Viola and Jeremy Harrison (who appeared in 'She Stoops To Conquer' at The Belgrade and most recently in the title role of 'Face' on national tour) as Orsino.

Adapting Twelfth Night
by Director Bob Eaton

There are countless ways for a director to approach a Shakespeare play. For me the first step is to decide upon a world for the play to inhabit; a place and time where the themes and events, the characters and their social relationships seem to fit. There are some who would advocate doing the plays 'traditionally' but I'm not sure anyone really knows what that means. Of course it's possible to set the plays in a reconstruction of Elizabethan / Jacobean England, and there's nothing wrong with that. However it doesn't seem to be the total answer since not one of Shakespeare's plays is set in the England of his own lifetime. They are of course crammed with contemporary reference and comment and the landscape of A Midsummer Night's Dream feels much more like Warwickshire than Athens.

Shakespeare was always ready to blend his contemporary, everyday world with the exotic and the historical, causing for example, clocks to strike in Julius Caesar's Rome. In fact it's often the coming together of diverse elements of time and space that gives the plays their vigour and massive scope. And you can’t really damage Shakespeare.

Alan Ayckbourn once likened Shakespeare to a beach - we all take our turns with our buckets and spades to mess up the sand and then the tide comes in and leaves it pristine and undamaged for the next person.

So why have I chosen to set Twelfth Night in a place rather like England in 1968? It has a less specific geographical location than most of his other plays, being set in an invented Illyria, which may be somewhere in the eastern Adriatic, but it seems to me the most 'English' of his comedies. And the late sixties was, at least in out popular mythology, a time of love, music, madness, foolery, intoxication and generally turning the world upside down.

I feel it's important that the audience should understand the society in which the play is being set. The society of the sixties is still very much with us, whether in the unreliable memories of those of us who are old enough or the retro-fashion and music of those too young to have been there. Music and love are both mentioned in the first line of the play. In the late sixties social barriers seemed to be breaking down and it seemed that music and love were going to change the world. Young musicians and other artists from working class backgrounds were getting famous and rich overnight and becoming a sort of new aristocracy with their country mansions and estates. What we didn't realise was that we were merely enjoying a brief 'feast of fools' and that the Malvolios of the seventies, eighties and nineties were waiting in the shadows to get their revenge on the whole pack of us.

Love in Twelfth Night, is a form of madness and madness was distinctly cool in the heyday of R.D. Laing. The other main ingredient of the heady mix was intoxication, which took several new forms. The sixties also saw the advent of 'unisex', many youngsters taking on an androgynous appearance. "You can't tell the boys from the girls" was a common complaint of the older generation. I think this was the element that finally convinced me that this was the soil in which Twelfth Night could flourish.

Some may find the setting irreverent but I think that's very much in keeping with the spirit of the play. The subtitle of the play "What You Will" is an invitation to take liberties which I find irresistible. I mean if you can't do what you want with "What You Will", when can you ... man? Love and Peace.

MORE INFORMATION: Cath Pitkethly  01203 846 703

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