By Andrew Conover
On Wednesday night, St. Bonaventure University’s theater department kicked off its fall production of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
SBU Theater’s production of the Shakespearean comedy took place in 1920s New Orleans during an event similar to Mardi Gras – a unique twist considering the original production was meant to take place in the fictional land of Ilyria in the early 1600s.
Ed Simone, Ph.D, St. Bonaventure University theater professor and Twelfth Night director attributed the success of the show to the cast’s understanding of the play after several weeks of “table work,” a process in which the actors read through the play line by line.
“The language is challenging. It’s modern English, but it’s an older version of modern English,” he explained.
SBU Theater actors agreed that learning Shakespeare had its challenges, but that putting in the extra hours every night to understand the language was worth it.
Clarissa Ahumada-Aubert, a junior english major who played the role of Viola in the production, explained that, “people study Shakespeare for months at a time in high school, and that’s because they go into every line in depth.”
Table work was not enough for Ahumada-Aubert, and she had to Sparknote the play several times to gain a better understanding of Twelfth Night. However, she is not alone as the actors, managers and other production crew members put many hours into studying, memorizing and understanding the play.
Bryce Spadafora, a junior journalism and mass communication major, played the role of Malvolio who had long monologues that made memorization difficult.
“Monologues took a lot longer to memorize,” he said. “I’ll be speaking for long periods of time with no prompts or help from anybody else.”
While the actors feel that performing a Shakespearean play is difficult, they see the advantages to it, as well.
“You learn so much about performance,” Spadafora said. “You really get the chance to grow and evolve as an actor.”
“Altogether, I’d say the actors put in about 100 hours,” Simone said. As he was commending the actors, assistant directors and technical crew for their dedication, he excused himself for a moment to congratulate the cast and crew members personally walking by on a great show.
Kristen Caputo, a junior journalism and mass communication and theater major, has been performing with SBU Theater for two years; however, this is her first time working as one of the stage managers.
Caputo worked directly with Simone and technical designer Rebecca Meisenheimer, a professor in the theater department, by going to production meetings in addition to nightly rehearsals and table meetings.
“I feel that I have definitely put in more work as a stage manager than the years I was acting,” she said. “Instead of worrying about you and your lines, you have to worry about everybody else and make sure everyone knows what is doing.”
SBU Theater will have a break from production for the rest of the semester; auditions for next semester’s show will be announced in January.