Thursday, January 6, 2011

1-6-11 Epiphany Eve

It's the night of the feast of Epiphany, or Twelfth Night. Tradition holds that you need to have your Christmas decorations down before midnight to avert bad luck for the year. (Just sayin', you people across the street whose yard is still all decked out. . . )

Since college however, this night has always brought back memories of Shakespeare at Winedale and our performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, or What You Will.

It was the spring semester of 1990 at the University of Texas and I'd come off a packed fall semester whose highlight was Dr. Ayres' Shakespeare class. So when I was selecting the next semester's schedule I spotted his name beside some vaguely titled English class selection "Shakespeare and Performance" and signed right up, thinking we'd be watching all manner of film and theater in addition to reading and studying the plays.

I was a little taken aback that the class had been scheduled in a far flung classroom in the stadium all the way at the far end of campus (but it was right near the bus stop . . . ).

When I walked in there were about a dozen students sitting down front in an otherwise large and empty theater. When Dr. Ayres arrived, with his teaching assistant, handed out the syllabus and began talking about our performances, I nearly got up and walked out.

I'm so grateful I didn't.

Shakespeare at Winedale was one of the richest, most out-of-my-comfort-zone, fear-filled and exhilarating experiences of my life. It stretched me in ways nothing ever had. Everyone else who signed up seemed to know all about the program and what they were jumping in to. I was the one with the perpetual deer in the headlights look. We worked through scenes from a number of plays I loved, and for the Spring performance in the beloved barn at Winedale Doc selectedTwelfth Night. While my roles were small, I learned more about Shakespeare than I ever could have sitting at a desk.And I learned to play. What a wonderful gift.

That summer was the 20th anniversary of the program. This past summer they celebrated the 40th. And the final weekend, the grand alumnus productions was. . . Twelfth Night. ;

Herewith, some favorite shots (not in order, which is kind of the point of the play).

Happy Twelfth Night everyone.

The converted, and magical, barn, at dusk before the play.

Sweet Dylan, still studying her lines after our run through.

Clayton directing at dress rehearsal.

Doc's welcome.

(I was the sea captain, eye patch and all.)

Olivia and Malvolio

Olivia, Sir Toby, and Feste

Maria and Toby

Viola (as "Cesario) with Olivia

Sir Andrew Aguecheek (run-through photo -- he wore tights for the play)

"Cesario", Orsino, and Feste

One of the highly choreographed and technical swordfights.

Maria, Fabian, and Toby

Antonio (me) and Andrew, in another high impact fight scene.

If music be the food of love, play on.


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