Giant Storm Flips identities and genders in classic comedy

Winnipeg, MB – The University of Winnipeg’s Department of Theatre and Film opens its theatre season with Shakespeare’s gender-bending comedy, Twelfth Night: or What you Will, directed by faculty member Christopher Brauer. The show runs at the Gas Station Arts Centre from November 24-28, 2015.

Ridiculous, laugh-out-loud comedy is the satisfying result of a tangle of unrequited loves that affect the unforgettable characters of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. While the lovelorn Duke Orsino plots to win the heart of the mourning Olivia, an alliance of servants and hangers-on scheme against the high- handedness of Olivia’s steward, the pompous Malvolio. When Orsino engages the cross-dressed Viola (one of Shakespeare’s most endearing characters) who has disguised herself as a young man under the name Cesario, to plead with Olivia on his behalf, a bittersweet and hilarious chain of misunderstandings and comeuppances follows.

Twelfth Night: or What you Will is directed by faculty member and recognized local director Christopher Brauer, who will be directing the upcoming Richard III for Shakespeare in the Ruins.

“To add to the confusion, all of the roles in the play have been cross-cast – meaning that men are playing the female roles, and women are playing the males,” said Brauer. “This started out as a simple programming problem – the 4th-year class has two men and seven women – but has turned into a terrific opportunity for the students to develop their character work, and adds an interesting layer of identity politics to the play.  The way we’re handling it is that we’re beginning the play with the storm and in the storm everyone gets so shaken up that they’re able to recreate themselves in the gender of their choice, rather than the gender their physical biology dictates.  The storm creates a kind of chaos, and instead of trying to reduce the chaos back to a comfortable order, the characters are offered the opportunity to embrace the chaos and make themselves at home there.”

UWinnipeg’s Twelfth Night is also filled with live, original music.  The play contains some of Shakespeare’s most famous songs, which have been set to original music by student Davis Plett, and which will be played and sung by the cast.

Inspired by images of the recent Japanese tsunami, set and costume designer Darryl Audette is recreating the GSAC stage to look like it has just survived a colossal hurricane, with toppled buildings, ship’s masts and the flotsam and jetsam from all of western history.  Bold and evocative lighting will be provided by design instructor Sean E. McMullen.  The substantial production team is made up of a range of junior and senior students.

“This production shows how laugh-out-loud funny, thrillingly theatrical and startlingly contemporary Shakespeare’s plays can be,” said Brauer.  “To see a team of young actors finding resonance and urgency in these 500-year-old words, while their colleagues on the production team create a professional quality visual and auditory environment, is inspiring.”

Performances are Tuesday, Nov 24 through Friday, Nov 27 at  8:00 pm nightly, and Saturday, Nov 28th at 7:00 pm at the Gas Station Arts Centre (445 River Avenue). Admission is free but reservations are recommended. Please call our 24-hour Reservation Line at 204.786.9152, or visit  UWinnipeg’s Department of Theatre and Film website at http://theatre.uwinnipeg.ca.

Based in the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film at The University of Winnipeg, the Department of Theatre and Film offers areas of study in Acting, Design, Drama in Education, Filmmaking, Playwriting, and Production/Stage Management. Our classes are small and our approach is practical. Our faculty is comprised of highly respected and award-winning professionals who are experienced teachers and remain active in their disciplines, bringing relevant and up-to-date instruction to our students.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Patty Hawkins, Department of Theatre and Film, The University of Winnipeg,
T: 204.786.9955, E:  p.hawkins@uwinnipeg.ca

Christopher Brauer, Department of Theatre and Film, The University of Winnipeg
T:  204-786-9008,  E: c.brauer@uwinnipeg.ca

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