Practise your staging skills

Watch this short clip (subtitles are available), answer the questions then check your responses against the sample answers.

This clip is from Propeller Theatre Company’s production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Propeller is an all-male Shakespeare company influenced by mask work, animation, film and music.

Question

How can you see that the director has updated the setting/era of the play?

The actors all wear suits and modern dress. They use modern instruments on stage and the setting is most definitely not contemporary to when the play was written (at the beginning of the 17th century).

Question

What is the director’s interpretation of the female roles in the play?

The women in the play are all played by male actors, as would have happened in the original production in Elizabethan England. Although they look like men, the female characters wear make-up, female costume and the actors embody feminine characteristics in terms of voice and movement.

Question

How does the choice of set and lighting support the play’s themes of disguise, illusion and mistaken identity?

The set is a collection of mirrored wardrobes and cabinets which can be moved through to create entrances and exits. This suggests transformation and change. Objects (and people) can transform and change. The lighting is low and moody and the half-light echoes the themes of disguise and of everything not being what it seems. The use of smoke and mirrors suggests illusion and deception, creating a magical atmosphere. The set is representational and non-naturalistic which gives the piece a further dream-like and ‘other worldly’ quality.

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