We all love a voyage of discovery… especially when, after wild seas, wrecks and restorations, loves and losses, it is ourselves that we discover. Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night asks us, ‘What country friends is this? Where true happiness can be found in freedom, or ‘what you will’…Now wouldn’t that be a magical place to live?
With Damien Ryan, of Sport for Jove Theatre, as our director, our Senior School Drama production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in May aimed to remind our audience of the golden summers of family memory, the freewheeling spirit of a sun-filled beach holiday at the water’s edge, between heat and storms, idyll and ice-cream, bickering and irritability, and then in an ultimate ‘miracle’, the restoration of family that may have lost each other.
The set was conceptualised as a 1960’s summer resort, replete with surfboards, a jetty, and beach umbrellas. Throughout there was a languid golden tone evoking shimmering summer heat, with iconic 60’s music playing background to the multiple misunderstandings around the central characters, separated twins, Sebastian and Viola. Damien’s encouragement and patient guidance taught 24 students, from Ascham, Sydney Grammar and Cranbrook, to cleverly mine rich veins of comedy in a manner that clearly affirmed the choice of play.
One of the cast’s great rehearsal joys was to observe Damien’s mastery of Shakespeare’s language in practice, of Shakespeare’s intentions in each moment of the play, and of how a 16th century Twelfth Night is a vision of recognisable, contemporary human behaviour — especially amidst the crisis and uncertainty that has a place in our 2022 understanding.
By the opening night on 19 May, Twelfth Night was very much owned by our outstanding cast, led by four of our exceptional Year 12 students – Isabella Alexiou, Scarlett Banks, Rose Mather and Amelia Tabary-Edwards. Special thanks must go to our brilliant student crew, to Megan Venhoek for her costume and set designs, to Theatre Manager Michael Linney for his patient management of all sound and lighting, to Bronte Barnicoat, our ever-resourceful Producer, and to all Drama staff who supervised all aspects of this production over the last four months.