WHAT YOU WILL (12TH NIGHT)
A Note from the Director
Shakespeare gave this play two names. The first and most commonly known one, Twelfth Night, dates back to a holiday celebrated twelve days after Christmas - a holiday which was also called Epiphany Eve. On Epiphany Eve, if you were lucky enough to take a bite out of your traditional Twelfth-Cake, and find a hidden bean or pea, you were dubbed king for the night. Although rooted in Catholicism, while Shakespeare was writing, this holiday was often seen as an excuse for disorderly conduct, social inversions, and a general air of festive misrule. Epiphany comes from the Greek word epiphaneia, which roughly translates to manifestation. And manifestation, comes from the latin manifestationem, meaning the materialization or discovery of something that is secret, obscure or obscene.
In other words, rebellion and revelation are written into the architecture of this play. From what I have read, it seems audiences in 1602 loved this play for the same reason they loved Epiphany Eve: for the night, they could live in a world where anything was possible - desires could be unconventional, class status could be challenged, and mischievous ambitions could be acted upon without reproof. Equally important to this Twelfth Night fantasy, however, is that both the holiday and the play would conclude at the end of the night and normalcy would be restored. By the morning, all inappropriate behavior was pardoned and disregarded, and the mantle of societal norms was taken back up.
I suppose, in this production, we are wondering how normal things really can be the morning after the Epiphany. Once we bring a desire, or an identity, or a dream out of the darkness, can we really close our eyes to it again? Even if we pretend not to see it, we cannot unthink a thought. For so many people in the LGBTQ community, our desires, dreams and fantasies are our first steps towards self-actualization. When our identities are stigmatized or made dangerous, sometimes the insides of our journals and minds are the only safe places to try loving who we do, or being who we know we are. I would argue, however, that all of us have those secret moments, full of longing, in front of bedroom mirrors - where we imagine ourselves as who we want to be - instead who we are supposed to be.
To me, the characters in this play are role models - they allow their inconvenient desires to forge new realities. This is not always easy: our heroes will navigate shipwrecks, heartbreaks, and very real violence. However, they will also experience epiphany. They will forge a new identity into existence, enabling others to do the same. Their bravery will will a fuller version of themselves into being. And Illyria will never be the same.
So, welcome. To what you will. I hope you will discover exactly what you need to here.
Artistic Director of Project Nongenue
Cast & Creative
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December 2019 Cast
Robert Arthur Angell, Sebastian · Ryan Brophy*, Orsino · Carlo Figlio*, Sir Toby Belch · Max Havas, Feste · Darius Levanté, Antonio · Erin Manker*, Malvolio · Kyra Morling, Viola · Tiana Randall, Olivia · Gabrielle Sigrist, Jack · Emily Tuñon, Maria · Noga Yechieli Wind, Andrew
*Members of the Actors Equity Association. This production was presented under the auspices of the Actors’ Equity Association Los Angeles Self-Produced Project Code.
Robert Angell, Internal Support Lead · Clint Blakely, Music Lead · Ryan Brophy* Producer · Olivia Buntaine, Director · Richard Fong, Set Design · Taylor Jackson-Ross*. Producer, Stage Manager, Text Coach · Janelle Ketcher, Graphic Designer · Marie Osterman, Associate Director, Movement Director · Gabrielle Sigrist, Community Engagement Lead · Ann Slote, Design Lead · Mimi Ruth Stiver, Dramaturg · Al Washburn, Company Manager
The Buntaine Family
The Washburn Family
The Havas Family
The Silicano Family
The Slote Family
The Actors Company of Los Angeles
Project Nongenue is proud to partner with Latino Equality Alliance for this production. LEA’s mission is to promote liberty, equality, and justice for the Latinx Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer + community. LEA is located at Mi Centro LGBTQ Community Center in Boyle Heights. For more information, go to http://www.latinoequalityalliance.org/
Project Nongenue acknowledges our presence on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Tongva peoples.