Twelfth Night at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Twelfth Night at Chicago Shakespeare TheaterWilliam Shakespeare is not only known for his tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet, but he also has crafted many plays that are classic staples. Included in this array of masterpieces is the clever romantic comedy Twelfth Night, which is a delightful story of mistaken identities and love conflicts set on the twelfth night celebration of Christmas. Since its premiere a long, long time ago, people have been captured by its comedic genius. Like other classic works, this play has been the subject of many recreations. Nonetheless, it remains the same — love can be messy from time to time, but it does prosper. The majestic Chicago Shakespeare Theatre is premiering Twelfth Night this fall. Get ready to indulge in this topsy-turvy showcase of theatre prowess.

Twelfth Night Tickets:

“Filled with witty commentary on gender, class, and sexuality, this sparkling romance brims with heart and revels in the intoxicating power of love.” — TheaterMania

Twelfth Night Tickets

Going back to the yonder years, Twelfth Night was created by Shakespeare as part of the celebration of the Eve of the Feast of Epiphany, which occurs twelve nights after Christmas Eve. This holiday was marked with merriment, and what usually happens is that people dress up as other people. Servants wear looks that their superiors wore, and men wear women’s clothing. This festive activity is said to be the root of gender-bending stories wherein people swap genders and roles. The play preserves the activities during this festive day, most especially the chaos that ensued back in time. The occasion was so memorable that people, through the years, have brought the play to the public consciousness. These days, many people might not have heard of this showcase, but they definitely are aware of stories with influence bled through the pop culture by this play. Have you ever heard of the teenage flick She’s the Man? If so, it was based on the play.

This Shakespearean classic is said to have premiered in 1600. However, its exact year cannot be completely pointed out. Evidence from texts says it was between 1600 and 1601. The earliest written document reporting the public display of the play was in 1602. Its publication only occurred in 1623 as part of the compiled First Folio, which contains the works of Shakespeare.

Twelfth Night Synopsis

In its tale of a debacle, a shipwreck serves as the backdrop for the chaos that follows in the play. The main character, Viola, poses as a young man named Cesario to survive in the strange land of Illyria because she thinks her brother Sebastian has drowned. A recurring theme that gives the plot layers of complexity and humor is the use of false identity. This would then lead to intricate and entertaining romantic entanglements. At one point, Viola represents a character by the name of Duke Orsino and Olivia as a loving ambassador under the guise of Cesario. However, issues arise when Olivia, who is unaware of Viola’s true identity, falls in love with Cesario. The fact that Viola is secretly in love with Orsino adds to this love triangle. In the totality of the show, the audience is engrossed in the web of comedic situations produced by the intertwining relationships. This play really is a showcase of how Shakespeare expertly incorporates situational comedy and verbal wit into the play’s humor.

Twelfth Night History

In the years after, the play is said to have been performed with Queen Elizabeth I as its audience. Documentation of the play popped up from time to time. Twelfth Night is among Shakespeare’s works that had early showings during the Restoration — a period when the Stuarts held the kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland back again as King Charles II was reinstated to his position. This version of the play was adapted by Sir William Davenant. 

By the 1700s, other adaptations also appeared, such as Love Betray’d or The Agreeable Disappointment by English writer William Burnaby. Another remake was made in 1741 at the Drury Lane, which is found today in West End. During the 1800s, its most notable adaptation was its operatic version by Frederic Reynolds with music from Henry Bishop.

Fast forward to the 20th century, many documented Twelfth Night versions have been known. The film became a new avenue to showcase the play. A silent film was made in the early 1910s. During the 50s, theatre shows left and right produced the play — a Broadway showcase included, which ran for more than 100 performances. In 1955, the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre showcased a star-studded cast with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh as leads.

As the 2000s came, the play became a mainstay in many theatres and holds a high ground among theatre productions. In recent years, many of its performers are veteran actors who are excellent in their performances. Patrick Stewart, Judy Dench, and Stephen Fry all starred in productions of the play.

Twelfth Night Chicago

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s version of The Twelfth Night is directed by Tyrone Phillips. Alongside him are creative individuals who put their heart into the productions. Since the play is a tale as old as time and many have witnessed its cleverness, it is finally time to add changes to its story. In this version, the island where the shipwrecked characters went to has become part of the Caribbean Isles. This story is going to be a fresh take on the classic, and audiences will surely fall in love with it. The scenes have changed, and the scenarios are outright modern-leaning but stay true to the original source.

This showcase will commence on October 25 and run until the 26th of November. The cast of this production includes Shelby Lynn Bias as Fabian, Christiana Clark as Olivia, Ronald L. Conner as Sir Toby Belch, Naphtali Curry as Valentine, Danielle Davis as Maria, Yao Dogbe as Orsino, Israel Erron Ford as Feste Alex Goodrich as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Jaeda LaVonne as Viola, Arielle Leverett as Gentlewoman, Roberto Mántica as Curio, Adam Poss as Antonio, Justen Ross as Sebastian, Paul Oakley Stovall as Malvolio and many more. The fall season is sure to be quite chilly, but it can become hotter if you watch this play. Tickets are now available, and you can reserve yours here by hitting the “Get Tickets” link.