University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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Oct. 8, 2004

UW-RF Theatre Presents Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night"
By Molly Exner
UW-RF News Bureau
The UW-River Falls University Theatre opens the 2004-05 season with a production of William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" in the Blanche Davis Theatre of the Kleinpell Fine Arts Building Oct. 21-23 and 28-30 at 7:30 p.m.

According to the play's director and UW-RF theatre Professor Meg Swanson, the University Theatre is taking a rollicking, open-hearted approach to this piece by Shakespeare. The classic is reworked to be decidedly "unstuffy," says Swanson, in order to make it accessible to young audience members and enjoyable to all.

"Twelfth Night" follows the lives of Sebastian and Viola, twins shipwrecked and separated off the coast of Illyria, who both believe the other is dead. Viola disguises herself as a boy, becomes a page of Duke Orsinio and falls in love with him. The Duke is hopelessly in love with Olivia, but she is in the process of mourning her brother's death and becomes infatuated with Viola as she/he delivers messages for the Duke. When Sebastian shows up, Olivia confuses him with the Duke's page (Viola) and marries the astonished young man. In the midst of all of this romantic confusion, servants and family members provide comic relief with their pompous, pretentious and sometimes intoxicated behavior.

"The University Theatre staff believes it is important to do the works of Shakespeare on a regular basis, both to give the actors a chance to chew on the meaty material and to give the River Falls audience a chance to see a Shakespeare performance they will enjoy," said Swanson.

The opening University Theatre production will host the eighth annual alumni event for theatre and speech majors. On Oct. 22, alums will return to campus to watch the play, enjoy some food and share in various activities that will generate money for student scholarships.

UW-RF emeriti and retired English Professor Bernie Brohaugh will play Sir Toby Belch, Olivia's unruly uncle who lives with her despite her disapproval of his rowdy behavior, practical jokes, heavy drinking and late-night carousing.
In addition, the production will donate proceeds to the Theatre Restoration Fund, founded by Wayne Yeager, a UW-RF senior theatre major and owner of the local theatre company HearthCricket.

Iris O'Brien, UW-RF theatre major, vice chair of the University Theatre board and stage manager for "Twelfth Night," says she is the "wheels" behind the show. As stage manager, O'Brien becomes the tie between director, actor and designer and makes sure the whole machine works.

Swanson says the play is a comedy that covers the territory between love and lust and back again. Moreover, she says, it demonstrates that people haven't changed much in 400 years. What was funny then—mistaken identity, human arrogance and unrequited love—is still funny today.

Student and senior tickets are $4. Adult tickets are $7. All tickets are on sale at the door. For more information, please call the box office at 715/425-3114.


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